It seems like solar energy companies have problems convincing people to buy their solar panels these days. It's not because people don't want solar panels, it's probably more due to bad marketing tactics and the lack of convincing selling-power. In today's times, if you have the power to convince people, you can go a long way even if your product doesn't meet quality standards. On the other hand, lack of it creates marketing frustration due to not meeting sales objectives.
Though my field of work is not related to the production of solar panels or their distribution, in my opinion, I think that they are definitely the next big thing. The world is already going green on power, and it also seems more and more electronic companies have already released products that are less resource-hungry or power-consuming. For example, green hard drives, green LEDs, graphic cards, etc. So if we think of power consumption as the epicenter in our daily lives, we will certainly want to make sure that we consume less of it, or the appliances we use are not power hungry as we have to pay our electricity dues. Electricity is not cheap and I will not be going into various factors involving electricity production, but in short we cannot live without it, and it is our need – everything runs on power!
Getting Inside The Customer's Head
For solar energy companies, this is a big challenge. People already have electricity in their homes, why would they want solar panels to begin with?
"The biggest challenge we face is educating people about the true costs of solar energy,” – Solar Energy Industries Association president Rhone Resch.
Think of your customers as confused people with a lot of unanswered questions in their heads. This is where you need to at least have the following questions answered, which also adds to convincing tactics.
1. What is solar energy?
2. Why solar energy?
3. Why solar panels?
4. How do they work? – in simple terms
5. Solar panels vs. traditional power source?
6. What is the energy efficiency?
7. What are the initial costs/total setup costs?
8. Power/cost savings realistic? – How much will I save? Are they worth it?
9. Are they completely safe?
10. Why YOUR solar panels?
Marketing At A Lower Cost
According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com columnist Isabelle Christensen, the cost of marketing per solar sale is between US $1100 and $2500 for national-scale companies. She says those are figures that may not be sustainable in the long term.
Marketing for solar panels is all about presentation, which should be the backbone of the overall strategy. You need to have at least the above mentioned questions answered, think like a customer, think what is going on inside his/her head. The most basic things you need to capitalize on in your presentation are the what's, why's, how's and who's. Then you need to draw an analogy between solar panels to traditional power sources and in the end finish your presentation with why the customer needs not only opt for solar panels, but yours specifically. Keep in mind that my focus here is to enlighten you on what marketing mediums/tactics will work the best for you, at the very minimal cost!
So, once you have your presentation prepared, you will need the following:
1. A person who is himself/herself well presented, with a good voice and who holds knowledge in the subject domain.
2. Instead of door to door marketing, which has its merits and demerits, we will focus on internet marketing which has a broader audience and is very cost effective at times. Create slideshows and upload them to slideshare and other pdf sharing websites with links to your website or sales page with further information. You will be surprised on how well these pages rank. This service is free.
3. Where exactly are people at these days? Social media! Create a presence on all major social media networks. You can opt for social media marketing to let this tedious marketing be done for you, which includes a lot of activities that are crafted to your business' needs. Participate in groups/pages related to solar energy, and share your thoughts. This will help direct targeted traffic to your page. This service is free (i.e., slideshare, etc)
4. Hold webinars free of charge. Once you have built your audience you can make the webinars fan/follower exclusive. Why webinars? Because people actually tune into live broadcasts where they get to ask questions directly to the presenter(s) and get on-spot answers while sitting behind their computer screens. Who doesn't want this comfort? This also works best to generate sales. In many instances, this (webinar) service is free.
5. Create videos and promote them on YouTube and other video sharing networks. What type of videos? Well, if the biggest problem is education, and the lack of knowledge amongst typical customers, you will have to focus on educational videos. Furthermore, you can have a variety of videos. For example, educational videos, promotional videos, and commercials. Creating videos is (virtually) free if you can do it yourself, and you have the equipment. If you want better quality, then you could hire a professional. The cost factor here varies from person to person, usually on the lower side; you can get cheap work done via freelance portals.
6. Create commercials! Yes people like to view commercials. I am telling you this from my personal experience on YouTube where companies that have created mind-blowing commercials, have sky rocketed in sales. Remember it's all about "how" you present your idea! So think out of the box. You can even try cartoonish or animated commercials at a lower cost. The cost factor varies depending on choice.
7. Paid advertising – You can spend a certain amount of your budget on paid advertising on search engines. This is where you will have to bid for keywords and compete with your fellow competitors. You can advertise on search engines, which is also recommended. Or you can advertise on social media and blogs via creating artistic banners! Creativity is the key here. The cost factor depends totally on your budget.
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