5 Tips to Rev Up 2015 Solar Marketing with Consultants

Solar marketing budgets and human resources will be stretched to the limit in 2015.

A solar industry marketer since 2007, my experience informs these tips for using consultants to augment your marketing capabilities.

There are many advantages to hiring the right marketing consultant.  Some of these include:

  • Fast track your initiatives, tackle priority assignments and free up internal staff to actualize ongoing marketing programs
  • Extend existing staff resources in high growth spurts without adding the overhead of a full time position
  • Add fresh insights into marketing strategy, resulting in more effective overall marketing results
  • Deploy a specific skill set for a key initiative or business expansion

When Not to Hire a Marketing Consultant for Your Solar Business

When not to hire a consultant?

  • When you don’t have any idea how or where to deploy additional skill sets
  • If you are unclear as to the priority of the initiatives you want them to tackle
  • If there is not a consensus as to what they will tackle
  • If you don’t have the budget to hire or support their efforts
  • If the priority and ability to create and maintain ongoing communications and resource support is not in place

1.    Target a Key Marketing Initiative

By now gaps between your 2015 marketing initiatives and the resources needed for their fulfillment may have surfaced.  Employing outside talent can jump start an important project and is a chance to get to know a new resource.

Here are three examples of typical solar industry consulting assignments:

  1. Maximize Your Reach with Strategic Content Development and Social Media. 
    Developing effective content will / should be high on marketers’ agendas this year.  Consultants can help develop the content and get the word out with strategic social media programs.
  2. Acquire More Clients with a Customer Profile Development. 
    Your current customers hold the keys to acquiring more like them.  A customer profile development project puts an open and close date on seeking insights from your current customer base to build marketing communications to attract more customers. 
  3. Increase Sales with Dealer Programs
    A channel marketing program aimed at your installer or dealer base can help them build stronger businesses and result in more loyalty in the competitive year ahead.

2.    Deploy SWAT Team Prowess

Consultants deploy their own unique “special weapons and tactics.”  Your role is to understand your in house marketing resources and how the consultant can fill any gaps.

Instead of having the work atrophy on the back burner you can hire a consultant to jump start a scope of work and deliver it with SWAT team laser focus.

3.    Create the Foundation for Mutual Success

Factors you can utilize to create a strong foundation for success include:

  • Communication
    Outline how, when and with whom clear and consistent communication will take place.  Respond in a timely manner to communication and information requests.
  • Trust
    Clearly understand the parameters of your agreement and how they could affect the overall project or retainer.  Getting clear on the dynamics of the working relationship can create a transparent and reliable relationship.
  • Team
    It is imperative to get feedback from internal teams whose work may be affected by the marketing plans.  Ensure the consultant is properly introduced and channels of communication are open to those critical to overall success. 
  • Magic
    A very special type of magic happens when talented folks get together to brainstorm on a new project.  Providing a collaboration rich environment to foster individual best contributions ranks high on my professional favorites. 
  • Information 
    Consultants should ask for all the background documents, information, data and resources they need for success.  Under an NDA, take the time needed to gather this information into your planning considerations.  A key piece of information particularly related to a project based assignment is the budget.  While you certainly don’t have to share your ceiling budget, a reasonable estimation of what you can and are willing to spend for a project is critical information to getting it done.
  • Payment 
    On time, even early, payment goes a long way to engendering loyalty.  Clear communication about payment builds trust.
  • Metrics
    Take a team approach and ensure your vision of metrics, how they will be captured and what makes for a successful effort/project are clearly understood by the consultant and agreed to as deliverable. 
  • Applause
    Don’t leave a simple and cost free tool to encourage your consultants on the table. 
  • Chemistry
    This is a time when you get to directly choose great, enthusiastic, service oriented people to work with you.  If you don’t feel great talking with a prospective consultant then chances are you will not get the results you want.

4.    Content Marketing Consultants for You and Your Business

One of the key areas in which an outside point of view can enrich your overall marketing is content development, deployment and promotion.

When the consultant comes from your industry, understands it, is already watching the trends, speaks at industry events and is plugged into industry publications, you get a tremendous resource to help you forward your content marketing goals – normally at a fraction of the long term cost of an employee.  An experienced marketer will also help you understand how the content can be leveraged over a wider landscape of activation channels thus increasing the ROI.

5.    Reap the Benefits of Experience

Seek out a powerful alignment of industry and professional experience matched to your project and team needs. A compatible consultant can become a valuable colleague to discuss ideas, cultivate approaches synced to company service offerings and goals, and an important sounding board to filter phenomenal ideas out of the dross of great ones.

To see a client’s goals realized is a joyful experience, one most consultants will work very hard to achieve, myself included.  Don’t settle for any other kind of assistance.

For more information contact me at Gwiseman@Identity3.com

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Glenna Wiseman is the founding principal of Identity3, delivering vibrant marketing to empower a sustainable world. She has been an executive marketing professional in the solar industry since 2007. Her expertise includes work with companies along the solar supply chain from manufacturers to installers, financing entities to solar O&M providers and across continents to international firms making a U.S. market entry. She has fueled growth in start-ups to divisions of Fortune 500 organizations.

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