Remember that old Seinfeld episode where Jerry receives an unsolicited call from a telemarketer? If not, here’s the clip:
The punch line, “Now you know how I feel,” resonates with me and perhaps the rest of America. Does anybody really want to be interrupted by a telemarketer or their robo-call lackeys? No, no one looks forward to a telemarketer’s call, not even from your clean-green solar company.
When you hire an outbound telemarketing service or have your own crew, not only are you hurting your own company’s brand, but you’re also helping to destroy the solar industry’s clean energy brand in general. Yelp! and BBB, and Google searches are increasingly getting filled with bad reviews and complaints from aggressive solar telemarketers.
Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about inbound telemarketing tactics. With inbound marketing, it’s not a call out of the blue. Here, someone has seen your ad or filled out a form at a trade show or Home Depot and specifically asked your solar company to call them. I’m also not talking about legitimate solar marketing lead generation companies that use blogs, web ads, and landing pages to educate consumers about solar and collect contact information from those who want a solar quote.
I’m only talking about solar telemarketers who buy lists of consumers who’ve never asked for solar info, yet still call them. With today’s user ID technology, the consumer often doesn’t even answer the phone, and even when she does, she often hangs up, or screams something offensive — or worse, she reports you to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating the Do Not Call Registry regulations.
I don’t care how effective outbound telemarketing firms claim to be for residential solar, it’s not worth it to your long-term reputation. (I'm more forgiving of B2B solar cold calling, as this is during business hours, and many companies are open to new solutions. More importantly, B2B cold calling doesn’t violate any FTC regulations.)
Buying third-party “home improvement” email lists is another solar marketing no-no. Because these consumers did not specifically ask to be on your list, your company may be subject to fines under the CAN-SPAM Act. Deploying these lists also threatens your ability to use legitimate email services, such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, which will ban your solar company if more than just 1 percent of recipients mark your emails as spam or a significant number bounce because they were fake in the first place. Oh, and if you're marked as spam by too many recipients? You'll also end up in the spam filters of your legitamit clients and prospects email accounts, as well.
Finally, when your "prospect" yells at you not to call again or clicks "unsubscribe," do yourself a favor and unsubscribe and stop calling. Solar brands get more damaged by this aggressive marketing tactic than any other.
So, not worth it. However, there are plenty of legal and ethical solar marketing alternatives that can be just as effective while not threatening your brand or federal legal action. Below are 25 off the top of my head:
Any and all of these residential solar marketing tactics are better than telemarketing and buying email lists of people who never asked for your information or calls.
So, please, for your own sake and the reputation of the rest of the solar industry, stop unsolicited outbound telemarketing and bogus email lists. Focus on legitimate tactics…and UnThink Solar.
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him 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.