There are few environmental holidays in the United States, so Earth Day is certainly a great time to market solar. However, it is late in the game, so if you haven't planned anything yet, here are five quickie/fairly cheapie guerrilla marketing ideas that you can do to build solar brand and customer relationships on April 22, 2012, a.k.a. Earth Day.
1) Give a solar quote to a reporter. I’ve mentioned this before, but haven’t seen anyone do it yet. (If you have, please send me a link to the resulting story.) The idea is to contact a local reporter and pitch them the idea of giving them a solar evaluation so that they can write about the experience, dispel some myths, and learn about the new ways to finance solar. The reporter’s experience is the reader’s experience, so this will definitely get readers thinking about going solar.
2) Build a solar model dollhouse…or solar something. Handy with carpentry? Have a young daughter in school? Build her a solar dollhouse to scale. Make sure it works and at least powers a small light inside. Then ask if you can do a demonstration at her class. DON’T advertise on the house. Ultimately, this is a tool. The value (besides kid appreciation) comes from the word-of-mouth through teachers and kids. The same mini-home — if artfully crafted — can be used as a prop for home demonstrations and solar referral parties. If not a home, then build something that solar can power. Go-cart? Computer? iPad case? It can look funky and impractical. This is a guerrilla marketing conversation starter, not a real or practical product.
3) Engage environmental solar clients. Studies show that most residential solar owners go solar for the savings, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also proud to be “green” while saving green. How you engage them is up to you, but a fast and inexpensive way would be to write a 500 word or less blog post or e-newsletter that is a THANK YOU note for going solar. Be genuine and personal, and DON’T mention a sale or referral. The point here is to remind your clients that although their initial motivation might have been cost savings, on Earth Day, you’re reminding and thanking them for their environmental and community leadership.
4) Engage B to B solar installers. Similar to the above, if you’re a distributor or manufacturer, I think Earth Day is another time to remind installer pros how our solar industry really does help this world. Whether you’re a person who answers the phones, crunches the numbers, delivers the solar widget, or installs, you’re all contributing to a world with cleaner energy that benefits the air we all breathe. Few industries can say that. So, send an Earth Day thank you email to your clients for doing their Earth Day best every day of the year. Once again, be as genuine and personal as possible. If you don’t actually believe the above sentiment, then find someone in your organization who does. If it’s a well written (and possibly visual) message, it’s a genuine way to connect and build stronger bonds.
5) Hat tip to The Vote Solar Initiative for this suggestion, but the following is a great way to — once again — make people question their solar assumptions. To promote New York’s Solar Jobs Act in 2010, Vote Solar rented a billboard on the freeway where New York legislators would see it — at their freeway exit to the Capital. See the results here:
Billboards can be great guerrilla marketing…depending on what you do with it. As with Vote Solar's campaign, don't just show a nice pretty, solar home and a web address. You have to grab people’s attention in a positive way, or as I often say, “stand out and educate.” If you don’t have a billboard available or the funds to rent one, no worries. You still have time to create a sign or banner on your business—city codes and lease permitting, of course. Be sure to craft some message around Earth Day and solar, and have your web address in there too. Beyond that, it's up to your creative juices.
The above five suggestions may not necessarily give you immediate leads on Earth Day, but they will certainly help you with future referrals, customer relations, and brand recognition.
So there you have it. Five ways to Unthink your solar marketing…for EarthDay.
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