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Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza's Comments

April 14, 2014

How Much Are Your Solar Facebook Fans Worth? Around $403 Each

Fred, you're absolutely right about Facebook throttling back your page views to 10 to 20% of your fans. Their reasoning is that if there's not a lot of interaction with you and your page to a particular follower, then it's not worth interrupting their newsfeed with content that they don't care about. The lesson then is to make sure that you have content that is engaging--like your SolarPro video that you just did. The second lesson is that social media can't do it alone, unfortunately. Everyone needs a balanced marketing strategy that includes some kinds of advertising, including Facebook advertising. The argument to management is that Facebook ads can be very targeted to certain demographics, so if your boosted content is great and useful, I think these projected numbers will show their value. Boosted content will also get you around Facebook throttling, so you'll be able to reach people who are already fans--and interested in your solar service already. Otherwise, why were they Fans to begin with?

Hope that helps!

March 28, 2014

Solar PR Memo to SolarWorld: Is It Time for the Win-Win-Win?

Steven, yes, SolarWorld is winning their case, but I think it's shortsighted to dismiss tariffs affecting solar's growth in the U.S. and the poly industry.

Tariffs may also be retroactive, hurting installers who are potentially SolarWorld customers. From a customer service and PR perspective, not good to be biting the customer that feeds you. If that happens, SolarWorld will probably gain even less market share, as installers will turn to other non tariff SolarWorld alternatives. On the other hand, if they settle with SEIA plan, they get the win-win-win described above and have the potential to grow their customer base further. That's what they're in business to do, no?

SEIA is proposing a win-win-win here. SolarWorld gets their subsidies, the same as Chinese, and installers aren't hurt by tariffs or retro-tariffs. It's not like the Chinese manufacturers are going away. They may indeed eat the tariffs and then SolarWorld will still be in the same boat. So, going all the way could just shoot themselves in the foot.

Once again, let's make solar, not solar trade war. SolarWorld has made its point and it now has the potential to benefit from the SEIA settlement, and it will also enjoy my personal respect for thinking about the entire U.S. solar industry and not just about their own sector or profits.

March 28, 2014

Solar PR Memo to SolarWorld: Is It Time for the Win-Win-Win?

Steven, we're talking about a huge majority of this industry related to installers. I really don't want to see a real world case where the tariffs cause a decrease in installation numbers. That's like seeing what happens if the U.S. decides not to raise the debt ceiling.

There's a viable economically favorable solution here. Why should SolarWorld reject it out of spite and to see what happens. As I mentioned earlier, if China does end up eating the tariffs, then SolarWorld still loses. Their prices will have to remain lower to compete as China provides even more subsidies to float its leading tier one manufacturers. Will SolarWorld then sue again? SEIA's solution gives everyone what they want: to succeed in the solar business, regardless of what sector. And if SolarWorld does reject the proposal and goes all the way and prices do rise? Installers are not going to blame China or any other U.S. solar manufacturer, that's for sure. Better to have the win-win-win.

March 29, 2014

Solar PR Memo to SolarWorld: Is It Time for the Win-Win-Win?

Steven, you can't predict that it won't either. General theories of supply and demand and pricing make it a pretty good bet that prices will rise, but let's just say that we both don't know and that we'll just have to see what happens--if it happens--but I hope it won't come to that.

March 29, 2014

Solar PR Memo to SolarWorld: Is It Time for the Win-Win-Win?

Mark, I know of no solar panel manufacturer that hasn't had a bad run and had defects, number one. Two, you get what you pay for. There's going to be less chance of defects if you go with Tier 1 Chinese panel brands that all of you have heard of. I'm not going to name them. If someone sends you an email with broken English saying that they have really cheap Chinese solar panels from a no-name brand, I'd say you're not thinking of the reputation of you business. Let's not stereotype everything that comes out of China. I've only been to one Tier 1 factory there, and you'd find no better manufacturing and testing than any other country, including their sustainability/environmental practices. There are of course bad players, too, and these are being culled by the Chinese, as well, cutting off loans and subsidies to them. So, please let's not stereotype Chinese panels as all good or all bad.

March 20, 2014

Solar Fred’s 7 Golden Rules of Solar Marketing

I like your additions, Marian. Thanks.

March 21, 2014

Solar Fred’s 7 Golden Rules of Solar Marketing

Jeff, that's a terrific addition, and one that I too am always working to follow. I try to catch my typos in this blog, but I'm embarrassed to say that I do miss some. But the great thing about a blog is that you can quickly fix them when you find them. Not so easy in print, however...

March 22, 2014

Solar Fred’s 7 Golden Rules of Solar Marketing

Good ideas. That can definitely comply with the 7 tenants above, especially helpful and being useful info, as well as being visual. The only drawback is them throwing out your piece of direct mail before opening it, and of course you don't know their credit rating, energy usage, and other data points, but it's at least a conversation starter if they're interested.

April 18, 2014

Solar Fred’s 7 Golden Rules of Solar Marketing

Love it, Lawrence. Yes, that should be #8. Thanks for your leading by example and your commitment to your customers.

February 19, 2014

How the CDC and Zombies Can Teach Us to Guerrilla Market Solar

It's a good start, Thomas, but as I mentioned in the article, you need to have some kind of solar point. If there's one there, it's too "sketchy" for me right now, but glad it inspired you to sketch and think about it!

February 21, 2014

How the CDC and Zombies Can Teach Us to Guerrilla Market Solar

Ray, love your enthusiasm and creativity.

This one is a fun take on what I was suggesting in this post, but too long, a bit too inside solar with jargon (you have to first know what a ppa and lease are to get this), and like the last video, you used too much (all?) stock footage. I know that makes it inexpensive, but it's tough to pull off effectively, at least for this type of infotainment video. Regardless of what you make in the future, try to make your videos under 1 minute or 90 seconds. It's a very short-attention span world. Hope that helps!

Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza

Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza

Tor Valenza aka “Solar Fred” is the founder of UnThink Solar, a strategic communications firm dedicated to helping solar companies reach solar customers through innovative messaging, branding, and social media communications. Follow him...

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