Now that you've done some research into solar buyers in your area and know who you're targeting, you need one thing: actual leads to turn into customers. And finding them can be more difficult than you might imagine! Unfortunately, there's no secret recipe to magically discovering an untapped, well-qualified pool of leads ready to go solar--you'll need to do a little bit of work to find the right people. Solar lead generation is a hot field, and you can go in a lot of directions with it. We recommend sticking to the tried-and-true basics: simple and effective strategies for sourcing new leads.
Create a Community Connection
When it comes to establishing yourself as a go-to solar installer in your area, you can't beat the effectiveness of simply getting out into the community. There are a lot of opportunities to interact with potential customers, and face-to-face interaction is a powerful way to establish a connection with a prospective customer. Some easy-to-execute ideas include:
- Tabling at local events such as farmer's markets, fairs, and festivals
- Exhibiting at a local or regional home show
- Assembling a crew to go door to door with sales materials
It's also important to use your connection to your community to your advantage. People respond to authenticity and like to feel connected to their communities. Use your knowledge of events, trends, and new industry developments in your market to craft messages that respond to what's going on around you. For example, in your marketing materials, instead of making a generic statement like “Solar can reduce your energy costs,” you could use something more targeted to your audience, like “[The local utility] has increased their rates by 15%. We can help to lower your bills.” Using location-specific details like these will help the customer clearly and easily recognize their challenges and needs in your messaging, and your marketing will have more of an impact. The more you connect your offerings to the customer’s specific situation, the more likely they are to see you as a solution and respond.
Finally, recognize the power of visibility. The customer cannot buy from you if they do not know that you exist, so it is crucial to get your business name and brand out in the market. There is a reason why big corporations spend so much money putting their logo on billboards, banners, t-shirts, and stadiums—it matters. So think about ways you can get your company in front of the customer: it could be as small as placing an ad in a local paper, or as big as sponsoring a local event. Think creatively!
One of the best ways to source new solar leads is to put your existing customers to work for you. Customer word of mouth has great credibility. When a neighbor tells a friend about their positive experience with solar, it does not feel like they are being sold or “marketed to.” Rather, it feels real and meaningful. Use your customers to your benefit: Your relationship with previous customers shouldn’t end once the sale has closed and the system comes online: they should be a key component of your marketing strategy.
Start by encouraging them to share their experience with others, or ask them if they would be willing to share names of other people they know who might be interested in going solar. You could even create a concise one-page sheet to leave behind with customers when you've completed an installation, for them to share with their friends, family, and neighbors. You can also encourage customers to post about their solar experiences on social media and leave you reviews on sites such as Yelp and Angie's List to reach even wider audiences.
The more advanced version of a grassroots marketing plan is an established customer referral program. Studies have shown that consumers are much more likely to consider solar when trusted individuals in their social circles have had positive solar experiences--there's nothing more convincing than a testimonial from a satisfied customer. Creating a referral program does require some work, and will require you to come up with some incentive, usually monetary, to motivate existing customers to refer new leads to you, but it is a cost-effective (and powerful) way to leverage word-of-mouth trust in your customers' existing networks.
Develop a Web Presence
Traditional marketing methods like print and television advertising, mailers, and telemarketing are on their way out: modern marketing means listening to what your audience needs, not what you think they want, and helping them find it. For most businesses, that means developing a web presence.
We all hear how digital marketing is crucial to the success of a brand, but we often don’t know what this means and how to translate it into action. So take the time to learn the basics or, if necessary, hire someone to do this for you. The internet is the first people go for information, so it’s important to make sure you're showing up in the right places. Some of the fundamentals you'll want to start with include:
- Developing a clear, informative, user-friendly website that conveys who you are, what your business does, and what you have to offer
- Joining social media (pick one or two platforms, and execute them well)
- Making sure you’re appearing on customer review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List
Traditional media still has a role in modern marketing (and if these avenues work well for you, you shouldn’t stop pursuing them) but it is a big digital world out there and you need to be part of it. An added benefit of having a web presence is that it not only helps you build on the first two strategies outlined above (making it easier for you to highlight community connections, get your brand in front of customers, and leverage word-of-mouth referrals through customer testimonials, reviews, and success stories), but it's one of the best solar lead generation methods around. Thinking strategically and taking advantage of all opportunities to make your contact information visible (both on your own site and on others), creating forms that allow people to reach out to you directly, or even doing some digital advertising so that your name is the first to show up in search results are all extremely effective ways of sourcing leads.
Don't get overwhelmed at the prospect of launching a solar lead generation program: if you focus on the basics, you'll have a great foundation for finding new customers. Start with our simple strategies and you’ll be in great shape, and should see more and more new customers reaching out to you for a solar consult.