Jim headed to his deck with a cold beer and his laptop. It was time to get serious about lead generation and marketing for his solar installation business.
He started with a quick check of his competition. How do they handle lead generation? The bad news was he found two new installation companies cutting into his territory and their companies looked and sounded a lot like his.
His first thought was to put more salespeople on the street to find leads, fast. That would mean printing more flyers and probably training a few more sales staff.
The overtime alone would cut into the profits.
That’s a story that plays out for a lot of small business owners in the solar industry. And the challenge is the same: How do you find effective lead generation you can afford?
Ineffective, expensive lead generation is the kiss of death for a solar installation company. Bigger companies can and will outspend you.
They can also afford large marketing companies to stay competitive.
But what about you…the local guy? Marketing is a jungle, and you have to generate leads to survive.
For smaller companies, the goal is to spend less money on marketing and get more qualified leads—preferably before the other guy.
It can be done.
Let’s take it out of the jungle and give you a level playing field. Ready?
Solar Survival Isn’t About You
Fifty years ago repetition was the life-blood of the marketing industry. You’d see the same commercial blasted on television over and over. But not much more.
There was less information and fewer outlets available for buyers to find you, making it fairly easy to get their attention.
Today, marketing is much more sophisticated. One word changed marketing: Internet. There is a ton of information available on a moments notice, 24/7!
And the solution for most companies has been to get into the online game and repeatedly blast email and social media ads that say, Buy! Buy! Buy!
Potential buyers shut you out—especially if they heard your message before and it didn’t apply to them.
That kind of advertising became so annoying they even awarded it a special title.
They call it spam.
You probably played the numbers game like a lot of installers. Maybe you kept blasting away in hopes that eventually you would reach the one household interested in solar before they spotted your competition
…who still looks and sounds a lot like you.
That kind of marketing put you on a treadmill of frantic lead generation to compete.
But here’s the problem.
Your customers are being bombarded daily with information, not just about your company, but about every aspect of their lives. They’ve learned to tune you out as a survival mechanism, so they aren’t overwhelmed.
They’ve learned to filter and prioritize and frankly, you got dumped into a spam folder.
It turns out; solar marketing isn’t being shaped by the solar industry at all. Your prospective buyers decide who survives!
Solar Marketing is Primal
So now what? How do you get off the treadmill and get noticed before the other companies?
Marketing is primal. It’s as basic as survival of the fittest.
Most of us would equate “fittest” as the biggest company, or the company with the unlimited budget because that’s been true in the past, but lucky for you, that also changed.
The big companies still have enough to outspend your quarterly budget before lunch, but if you are a small or medium-sized business, you can compete better than ever before—without the cash!
The challenge isn’t a bigger budget; it’s to find out what makes your company different from all the rest.
Survival means you need to stop blending in. You have to stop trying to look and talk like the bigger companies, and even the regional company that dominates your market.
The competition that you should worry about isn’t the guy that looks and sounds like you. It’s the guy who stands out in the crowd because your buyers WILL notice him.
The Single Greatest Threat to Your Survival
There has never been an easier time to stand out in the industry and compete, especially for a smaller company. It’s still survival of the fittest, but the tools that take you from stone cold leads to piping hot, qualified buyers are free for the taking.
When Jim realized there were more installers moving in, he may have reached for a second beer (or even a third…I would have!) But the good news was, they all looked and sounded a lot like his company.
You don’t have to be bigger or better than the other guy. You just have to learn to be different in a way that gets and keeps your buyers’ attention. You have to be memorable.
No big budget. No extra staff. No extra door-to-door sales. (And you know how I feel about door-to-door and cold calling, right?! I’ve done it, too, but seriously…stop!)
The single greatest marketing flaw in our industry is that we all look and sound alike.One of the biggest marketing flaws in our industry is that we all look and sound alike. #solar #solarmktg Click To Tweet
Stone Cold to Piping Hot Lead Generation
You hear a lot about branding in the marketing world. It’s a buzz word that probably has your eyes glazing over. But it’s crucial that you understand it.
Branding is how you stay out of the spam filter.
Branding isn’t a logo or attractive website design. (They are important, but they come later.)
Branding is identifying that one thing that makes you different and then effectively communicating it as a benefit to your potential buyer.
If it isn’t a benefit to the buyer, it’s just noise. And noise gets filtered out.
It is survival of the fittest out there. You have two choices:
- Get noticed
- Start planning a career move
So what makes you different? What makes your lead generation piping hot…because it isn’t going to be looking and sounding like all the other companies in your area?
And it absolutely cannot be offering a free estimate!
If you can’t be different, (take a deep breath, here) your ONLY competitive advantage is to lower your price.
The alternatives are to stay on the treadmill and chase the leads before your competition finds them, (which involves lots of man hours, investment in materials, and a reputation for being outdated) or take a financial hit.
You don’t need to do that!
If you learn to be different, qualified leads come to you because they find value in what you offer. They want you because you’re different and most of all, you communicate how working with you benefits them.
Now the question is, how do I find the one thing that makes my company different than all the rest, especially when we all do basically the same thing?
I’m glad you asked!
You’ll want to check back for the second and third part of this series on Solar Branding 101. In part two I’m going to walk you through a branding check-list to help you identify some key differences. And in part three, we’ll put it all together and show you how to communicate it directly to your perfect buyer.
Until then, get primal! Start thinking about what makes you different and how you’re going to survive. Oh, and get subscribed to my newsletter for more tips before your competition can put them to work.
It’s a jungle out there!
If you have any questions or anything you’d like me to add, get in touch! Always happy to hear from you.