Welcome to another session of the Solar Fred's solar communications think-tank.
About that dramatic headline. I’ll admit it’s an exaggeration. You won’t die, but your solar business—and I would argue that the entire industry—is handicapped without you contributing a consistent, up to date blog for your customers.
Your blog is your company's voice, and without one, your company is, well…speechless. Plus, you’re losing customers. So what. Big deal.
Solar PV must become like balsamic vinegar. In the 1980’s, that sweet brown condiment was only known in the finest restaurants. Now, it’s in McDonald’s. It made that leap not through a massive industry advertising campaign (Got Balsamic?) but word of mouth. Solar needs to spread the same way—and blogs are one of the vital conduits to making that leap to the Street.
Who bares the burden of reaching the Street, and therefore must blog in order to more quickly grow their solar interests, businesses and the entire industry?
- Solar panel companies.
- Solar installers.
- Solar financing companies, including, but not limited to: solar PPAs, solar leases, solar unsecured loan companies, and anyone with a municipal financing plan.
- Utilities serious about offering solar incentives and meeting their state’s renewable portfolio standards.
- Local governments who want to encourage more renewable businesses in their cities and have provided tax and other incentives to consumers, businesses, and/or solar manufacturers.
- PR, media, refferal sites, and communication companies wanting to become “a trusted solar voice and authority” to solar residential, business, and government customers, other solar companies, or to all of those markets.
Why is a blog so important? I mean, heck, it’s so 2003, Solar Fred. I know. And yet, it still has many vital purposes to your company’s growth.
- Better search engine optimization. If someone is looking for solar anything, Google, that behemoth of search engines, is going to rank you higher if you’ve got a consistent blog that keeps mentioning the word “solar” and some other relevant key search term.
- It informs new and returning customers about solar news and trends—and how you fit into those trends. A good blog tells customers that you’re on the cutting edge and up to date about the world in solar. If your last post is from 3 months ago, it says you’re behind the times or don’t care. Bad. Very bad. Watch how quickly your visitor clicks away to someone who’s current.
- A blog makes you an expert. Your website is all about information about you and your products. All things being equal between two solar websites, I think a customer will more likely trust and choose to contact a company with an informative, easy-to-read blog than a website with no blog at all.
- A blog is daily, friendly, PR about all that you’re doing and accomplishing. Even if you haven’t had a sale in weeks and you’re waiting for the phone to ring, your daily insight about why your solar product is so unique and valuable can be persuasive info—and can draw new leads to contact you, as well as existing customers considering the words of your more informative competition.
- Using social networking tools, it is a word of mouth traffic driver—if you have some news or product that is unique and worthy of being passed on. This is more than a press release. Your blog post is a further explanation about that press release. It’s not written to stock holders or media, as much as directly to customers.
- Company Personality. Who is your company's face? Who is your voice? I don’t care if you’re a B to B company; all people want to relate to a person, not a solar panel. It's like shaking hands in cyberspace."Hi, I'm a solar company. Glad to meet you. Here's what I stand for. Contact me and I'll tell you more." An intelligent blog is another draw to someone who consciously or unconsciously wants to do business with a human being.
Have you looked at your company blog lately? Is it up to date? Do you even have a blog? In my next post, Solar Blog or Die--Part II, I’ll talk about content and the key elements to good blogging.
Please share your own blogging insights below. Has it been effective? Why? Has it been a waste of time? Spit that out too and why you think so. This is, after all, the Solar Aardvark Shop. We think solar. That's my new slogan, by the way. Comment on that too.
Tor Valenza aka “Solar Fred” blogs about residential solar PV at www.solarfred.com and consults about how to effectively reach solar customers through innovative messaging, branding, and social media communications. Follow him on Twitter @solarfred. See his REWorld profile for more contanct info.