You have the home-field advantage when it comes to solar lead generation, and that comes with significant benefits for both you and your customers.
But only if you know how to take advantage of it.
When a large installation company enters your local market, it’s true—they increase public awareness.
The problem is, they control the sales conversation with your potential customers.
And that will hurt your business.
Lead generation is tough, and if you leave the conversation to the bigger names, buyers may never hear about the perks of going local.
For example, about 70 percent of the time, the largest installers quoted consumers a higher price than smaller regional competitors, according to the study by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory .
What if you could take control of the conversation, increase your qualified leads, AND save money doing it?
Here are five things you need to do to dominate the local solar installation market.
70% of the time, larger installers quoted a higher price than regional competitors. #solar #solarmktg Click To Tweet
Ditch the Identity Crises
I know you’re probably sick of hearing that you need to set yourself apart from the pack. It’s perfect advice, but it’s rare that marketers will share exactly how to do that.
If you and I were on the phone right now and I asked you, “Are you spending more time promoting your business, or talking directly to your potential customers?” most of you would tell me you’re promoting your business.
That’s not surprising. That’s what marketing is about, right — getting in front of buyers?
But if you change your focus and ask, “Instead of promoting the company, what if we promote what the buyers REALLY want from us?” then you have exactly what you need to differentiate your company from both local and regional solar installers.
Let me explain.
Traditional marketing has always been to promote a company online, including images of their latest project, maybe a few awards, and a free estimate. We call that a brochure site.
But the way customers shop changed.
It isn’t big companies that control the sales conversation, it’s the potential customer.
There will always be buyers who prefer to go with a bigger name.
- They believe larger companies can offer higher value
- They trust a higher profile company
- They equate higher visibility with better service
- They presume larger companies offer superior warranties
Unfortunately, some customers are willing to pay the higher price—even if their perceptions are incorrect.
But they aren’t the majority.It isn't bigger companies that control the solar sales conversation. It's your potential buyer. #solar #solarmktg Click To Tweet
While some solar companies continue to market their business, buyers are asking, “What does that mean to me?”
How to Differentiate Your Business
That list of buyer requirements sounds intimidating, but in reality, customers are telling you exactly what they value and why.
They are handing you an outline for a very precise, targeted local marketing campaign.
If you give them the ability to compare your local installation company with the bigger brands, using all the points on that list, you’ve done what most other solar installers don’t.
Solar lead generation just got a little less complicated.
Give Customers The Ability to Compare
Buyers have made it clear. They want
- The best value for their money
- A high level of trust in you and your ability to deliver
- Quality products that you warranty, and
- Excellent customer service before and after the sale
And let’s be very clear, each point is something every reputable business should already provide.
Buyers take comfort in higher visibility companies because bigger companies take every opportunity to let potential buyers know they will over-deliver on each point.
They are taking control of the conversation by providing information buyers really want, which builds trust.
And they are doing that at the point of contact customers prefer: their website.
When a sales person (or your website) says, “You can count on us!” or my favorite, “We provide excellent customer service,” it’s white noise. Buyers don’t hear those statements because they already expect that kind of service.
There is no power behind them.
So what should you offer a potential customer that helps inspire trust?
The key is proof.
Providing a glossy with all the specs of your last project as proof doesn’t cut it. Most solar case studies are written by installers in the language of their industry. Only other installers and solar enthusiasts understand the technical terms.
A solar case study should inspire your potential customer to pick up the phone and call you.
Here’s an example: A grandmother in New York who’s beginning to research can’t compare your project overview to the benefits she’s hoping to see on her own roof.
It isn’t specific enough. It doesn’t talk about how you can help her specifically.
She wants to hear from your customers.
Was it on budget? On time? Would you recommend them? Did it save you money??
As a local company, you have the ability to outshine bigger companies charging more by simply educating your buyers about what you offer and how they benefit directly!
The way to differentiate your company from your competition, nationally and locally, is to provide as much information as you can in a way the general public can understand.
Make it clear, accessible, and share it often.
Improve Your Lead Quality & Pay Less
One of the most expensive phrases ever spoken in solar marketing is, “We’ve always done it this way.”
You chose to be part of an industry that brings incredible innovation and technology to help consumers receive cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy.
That’s ground breaking!
So why are you relying on expensive, outdated marketing techniques from the ’50’s?
Today, your customers don’t want to be interrupted by a sales pitch. They are proactively online looking for answers when it’s convenient to them.
Are you ready for that? Can you provide answers at two in the morning?
According to the 2017 Marketing Statistics by HubSpot, an industry leader in marketing, 72 percent of consumers who do a local search, make contact with a local business that’s within five miles of their location.
And 28 per cent of local online searches result in a purchase.
Those are statistics any local company should love.
But in solar marketing today, the two most popular techniques are door-to-door and buying expensive lead lists that you hope are:
- Not on your competitor’s list
Those are called “outbound” because you go “out” looking for them.
Once you receive solar leads, you have to qualify and nurture them without being high-pressure.
It takes time, money and finesse.
If you want to decrease the cost of local marketing, update the way you market. Buyers don’t wait to hear from you. The internet changed all of that. They go looking for information before you ever know they exist.
These are buyers who are pre-qualifying themselves BEFORE they even contact you.
Just out of curiosity, how much could you save by learning to give buyers information that excites them enough to want to pick up the phone?
Remember, trust begins by being visible at every opportunity.
When you show up, you are building a reputation that people trust and want to share. They will come back to you every time they have a question. And they will share that experience with family and neighbors.
This is called “inbound” marketing. Buyers come to you prequalified and with a higher level of trust, making them higher quality leads for less money.
- Looking for you!
- And you didn’t pay for a list!
Whether your inbound leads come from word-of-mouth, contacts requesting information about the inverters you mention in your blog, or a checklist you provide in exchange for an email address, these leads are cheaper and higher-value.
And since your buyers prefer inbound marketing techniques, you’re already miles ahead.
Get Visible Without Door-to-Door
A large firm has a budget to launch an entire sales team to cold-call or walk the neighborhoods knocking on doors. Most of you probably don’t.
I have a confession to make. I’ve put my time in door-to-door, too. Years of it! And without fail, every single time I did it (In heels!) I always went back to my office thinking there had to be a better use of my time.
And there was.
I discovered that our company put out a newsletter packed full of useful information that my buyers loved.
In all my years of knocking on doors, I can’t count how many people asked me not to come back, closed the door in my face, or handed my information back and said they weren’t interested.
But I got calls from those same potential buyers asking when my next newsletter would be out. I got clients, contracts, and closed deals because I was providing the same information in a way they wanted to receive it.
There is a better use of your time. Door-to-door is outdated, and your buyers are looking for you online.
A local business has the advantage if they have a strong online presence that provides what buyers want to know.
That doesn’t mean that meeting your customers in person is a bad idea. I also happen to believe there is nothing stronger than the connection you make one-on-one, so I understand why our industry relies so heavily on door-to-door.
Instead, get out in your community. Offer a free talk at the local library or extension service. Go into the school systems. If your local public school doesn’t allow it, contact private schools, and then follow up with a mail-out to the neighborhood to let parents know you were there and you care about their kids’ education.
Ask them to get in touch with any questions.
There are countless ways to get creative and give back to your community through charity events, social and educational groups and a dozen more.
If you want better lead generation and you want to dominate your market, take control of the conversation. Get visible with information people want, and they will learn that local is the way to go.