Since the days of cave paintings, humans have been telling stories about themselves, whether in pictures, songs, commercials, websites, or logos, but few solar companies have sincerely learned that lesson.
Whether you’re in the B-to-B solar business or the residential market, telling some type of story about your solar company is a powerful and dynamic way to stand out from competitors, draw people into your website, and build brand trust in an increasingly commoditized and competitive solar marketplace.
How you tell your company’s solar story needs to be unique to you; it’s not something that can be copied. Not only will the content be different, but you may also choose different methods: You could have a talking head video, a tour of your facility, or just a really well written web page — or all of these.
In a moment, we’ll look at storytelling examples from two successful solar companies. But before we do that, let’s look at one wildly successful example from the non-solar world:
Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club’s brand name isn’t that exciting, but it is simple and accurate: You can buy four shaving razors for as little as one dollar per month. Like solar, it’s a great concept, but not unique. There are other companies offering the same discount opportunity. However, Dollar Shave Club caught viral internet gold because of how Mike Dubin, the company’s founder, told his company’s story. If you haven’t seen it yet (10 million have), see below:
As you can see, this is a unique, fun, story about what the company is, why it was founded, and what it stands for. You can’t repeat this viral success because your founder isn’t Mike Dubin. I have a friend who actually knows Dubin, and he says that the video genuinely reflects Dubin’s real personality and voice.
The lesson here for solar companies is that telling a funny and outrageous story can be powerful, but it only works if it’s authentic to your company. So, don’t copy Dubin, because it will probably fall flat. Instead, create your own video that tells a unique story about why you’re in the solar business and why you’re different from any other installer on the planet.
If it’s funny, terrific. But if humor isn’t reflective of your company’s values, don’t try to fake that. Your solar company probably has its own story that can stand out. You just have to discover what that story is and how to tell it.
Great Story Telling from Sungevity and Namasté Solar
Two solar examples of effective story telling come from solar leasing company Sungevity, and Namasté Solar, an installer out of Colorado.
In the case of Sungevity, its story is broken up into several sections on their website, and it starts with “Why Sungevity.” Various subpages define them further, and they not only include information about their founders, but also video stories from their customers and video stories about their employees.
None of these stories or videos are humorous, but they are authentic to Sungevity and its philosophy of offering a great customer experience, great customer service, and solar advocacy.
These various stories build trust that make website visitors want to stay, digest the info, and then click one of Sungevity’s juicy orange calls-to-action buttons that say “Get a FREE iQuote®. Go.”
Instead of a “Why Us” page on its website, Namasté Solar literally has an “Our Story” page under “About Us.” There, you can read about the meaning of its name, the history of its founders, its employee-ownership business model, and the company’s authentic commitment to service to others and the world.
Namasté is another example of a unique story that isn’t funny, but it immediately builds rapport with the potential customer who may be deciding to get a quote, or deciding between two or three competitive quotes.
With solar being a long-term commitment no matter how you finance it, that long-term contract implies risk. Reading Namasté’s story and history can help customers feel that they “know” the company, and that they can trust them and reduce that risk—especially compared to a solar company that has no story beyond a generic and vague “About Us” page.
Telling your unique solar story is an important way… 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.