This Solar Fred marketing post is inspired by a recent Seth Godin blog post. I really think Godin captures the spirit of how small but consistent efforts can make a difference — without having a million dollar ad budget.
Below is my adaptation of Godin’s one-day-effort bullet points for solar marketing and innovation. Each of these 12 ideas can be inexpensively accomplished in a single day for little or no money. Pick one a day. Repeat as necessary:
1) Send a handwritten and personal thank you note to a solar customer. These days, we rarely receive a handwritten note from anyone. Everything’s so automated. And yet, whether you’re in the solar B to B world, or the residential world, that’s precisely why you’d make a hell of an impression on a new solar customer by being as personal as possible. It doesn’t have to be handwritten, but it does have to be specific and sincere. If written well, it will inspire referrals and pay handsomely for your time and thoughtfulness. Every sales person should do this.
2) Write a blog post about how someone is using your product or service. Blogging is the anchor of any solar social media campaign today. Many people ask me about what to write about. Writing about how people are using your solar service, whether for home computers or a dairy farm, is a great way to show new customers that solar is main stream. Plus, it tells a story, and everyone loves a story—or a solar case study.
3) Research and post a short article about how something in your industry works. What’s great here is that solar marketing isn’t always about your company. People treat marketing articles like they’re press releases, and they’re not. If something in this solar industry is working or is innovative, applaud it. Congratulate that innovation and share it with your audience. Yes, they will get credit, but you will get credit for recognizing trends and innovation. If it’s not perfect, share what could be improved. Be a thought leader, not just a reporter.
4) Introduce one colleague to another in a significant way that benefits both of them. Sometimes you may recognize when a colleague is missing some connection and needs help. Help them. Your generosity and thoughtfulness in this one day can lead to help and resources for you down the road. If not, you’re still doing something good for your company, and you care about your solar company, right? If not, perhaps it’s time to rethink where you’re working and how you want to grow your career.
5) Read the first three chapters of a business or other how-to book. I take time to read at least one chapter of a marketing book every day. If not a marketing book, then at least a marketing blog post from a respected source like Seth Godin. Solar is still a tough sell, and so we must inspire ourselves with examples and advice from outside experts. Takes 10 or 15 minutes, and who knows what solar campaigns will come out of it.
6) Record a video that teaches your customers how to do something. Solar is perfect for how-to videos, and the great thing about solar products and installation is that you can easily shoot a video without interrupting work, and then use voice over to explain what’s going on. We’re in a visual world today. The more video how-to’s you have, the more you will have authority and inspire trust with prospects.
7) Teach at least one of your employees a new skill. There are so many new people to solar, and they all do need some advice and tips from veterans. Once again, do this with an open “how can I help” attitude, not a “what’s in it for me.” What’s in it for you is growing your company and building your internal business community.
8) Go for a 10-minute walk and come back with at least five written ideas on how to improve what you offer the world. I’m just going to echo this. It really does help, and I often come back with more than 5 ideas. Be sure to have a digital recorder or memo app on your cell phone to get it all down. You may throw away 4 ideas, but that 5th one may be the breakthrough idea sets you apart from other solar products or services.
9) Change something on your website and record how it changes interactions. It’s good to surprise return visitors to your website. Change a photo, create a new page. Make people look twice at what they thought was familiar. The goal is to increase curiosity and make website visitors interact/email/comment more. Experiment. See what happens. If it flops, you can always change it back.
10) Help a non-profit in a significant way (make a fundraising call, do outreach). I’m going to do that right now. Vote Solar is having its annual Equinox fundraiser on March 18th in San Francisco. I not only spent the $100 for the ticket, but I’m flying up from Los Angeles and staying at a hotel. It’s a great party and great cause for a great organization that’s working for all of us. Hope to see you there.
11) Write or substantially edit a Wikipedia article. I’ve never done this before, but I wonder how many mistakes are in Wikipedia about solar power or inverters, or Solyndra. Whatever sector you’re in, review the page that applies. If there isn’t a page that refers to your kind of product, then you, my marketing friend, have a huge opportunity to educate the Wikipedia public about your particular solar product or service. Don’t be promotional, because the Wikipedia editor elves will delete it. Just provide factual, useful information.
12) Find out something you didn't know about one of your employees or customers or co-workers. Once again, the point here is to build an internal solar think tank and to build a company community with strong, mutual, solar goals. So reach out. Have a monthly pizza party and request that everyone reveal something that people don’t know about him or her. At best, the answers may inspire a new solar marketing campaign or perhaps inspire a product innovation. At worst, a cheap lunch.
Those are just 12 more ways... to UnThink Solar.
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Want more solar marketing info? Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact Solar Fred through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.