In renewable energy marketing, size does matter. Especially when you get a bunch of solar marketers or salespeople together in a room and they start comparing capacity of recent projects. Then it’s all kilowatts and megawatts. And if they’re lucky, maybe a gigawatt or two.
Of course, this is a sign of the industry’s success and reminds us that 2014 was another record year for solar. There’s nothing better than knowing that big solar rollouts are routinely happening, helping to sustainably meet more and more of our energy needs.
Now, let’s talk about how you tell that story when you’re talking not with colleagues but with potential customers and other general audiences. Specifically, how you do tell your story on your company blog.
(What’s that, you say, your company doesn’t yet run a blog? No worries — check out this article on renewable energy blogging and solar inbound marketing to see if a blog is right for you.)
Spin a yarn
Dropping in key solar terms will gain you credibility with a more sophisticated prospect such as an energy manager at a big manufacturing plant who you may be talking with directly as part of a sales conversation.
But it’s a different story with an entry-level buyer, who’s more likely to be the audience for your company blog, which they may find through Twitter or Facebook — both places with large audiences of the general public who are not experts in solar.
With too many numbers or other inside-baseball details, most people feel overwhelmed, turning them off to the very thing you’re seeking — to generate passion and turn that passion into sales. And yes, even when they’re trying to understand what they’re buying.
Storytelling offers a better initial approach.
People want to know about people. Bait with a narrative, however simple, about how ordinary folks, various institutions, or businesses of any size are making solar work for them and you’ve already started to hook your fish.
Man + woman + house
What got me thinking about this was a great — and brief (only 7 minutes) — episode on the Whole Foods & PBS Web show Dark Rye about a Portland Oregon couple who designed their own LEED Platinum energy efficient home.
Dubbed Harpoon House, their project is rife with all kinds of strategies and materials (more than just solar) that were thoughtfully considered and which likely involved a bunch of technical applications. But rather than tell that story like they’re at a conference of architects, or structural and civil engineers, they tell that story like they’re talking to you or me. Just check their video for yourself.
It’s obvious how a customer story like this could help with a family interested in residential solar. But with a more sophisticated prospect, say for commercial solar, is storytelling going to help?
At a company, an engineer and the CFO may make the final decision about solar, so of course you’ll need a no-nonsense approach with solid facts about reliability and ROI. But even technical or numbers people are still people. And early in the sales process, along with reassurances about energy and money, they’ll want to see the wow factor of your approach to solar. Then, along the way as the sales discussion continues, good stories with emotional appeal will be necessary for other company stakeholders whose enthusiasm is essential to getting a project done such as the company’s marketing department or board of directors.
So, if you’re not already using videos, try making one. It doesn’t take an Academy Award winning production team to make a YouTube video. It just takes one of your employees who’s game for the challenge of using a webcam and video production software such as iMovie or Adobe Premiere Pro.
But whatever you do, try to find the simplest way to tell your stories. Even if it’s not video, but the mighty power of the pen (er, keyboard), bring the story back from products to people.
Happy solar stories sell solar. Try it, you’ll like it. And may 2015 be your best year ever!
— Lindsay Curren, Curren Media Group