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Advice On How To Market This...

 
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Old 05-10-2010, 05:48 PM   #1
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Advice On How To Market This...


It's funny how things get started, this is a perfect example. A customer asked me about solar panels and if I could install them. This promoted some research on my part. I know I am unable to do this so I started looking into the details of what it takes to become able. I talked to a few other solar installers and the consensus was "right now its easier to sell ice to eskimos". It seems the same people who are not spending on additions, kitchens and baths, are not able to front the cost for solar. NJ has some very gracious incentives of green energy but the consumer still has to front the money.

I came across a company who will design, install, insure and mantain the system at no cost to the owner. They essentially become the power company and the consumer buys the power produced on their property at a discounted price, initially 10% and increasing to about 35-40% over time.

When I asked who the rep was for this area I found out the closet rep was hrs away. I saw an opportunity and became a rep. Don't worry I didn't quit my day job, LOL.

For residential I would use postcards, fliers, newspaper, website, all the same stuff I use now. B2B is the question, for now this is offered to commercial only. I am afraid most if not all of the above will land not on the decision makers desk but be intercepted by the secretary. I know I can hit the pavement but is there any other means which may produce leads?

My question is.... How would you market this?
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Quote:
Originally Posted by HSConstruction View Post
It's funny how things get started, this is a perfect example. A customer asked me about solar panels and if I could install them. This promoted some research on my part. I know I am unable to do this so I started looking into the details of what it takes to become able. I talked to a few other solar installers and the consensus was "right now its easier to sell ice to eskimos". It seems the same people who are not spending on additions, kitchens and baths, are not able to front the cost for solar. NJ has some very gracious incentives of green energy but the consumer still has to front the money.

I came across a company who will design, install, insure and mantain the system at no cost to the owner. They essentially become the power company and the consumer buys the power produced on their property at a discounted price, initially 10% and increasing to about 35-40% over time.

When I asked who the rep was for this area I found out the closet rep was hrs away. I saw an opportunity and became a rep. Don't worry I didn't quit my day job, LOL.

For residential I would use postcards, fliers, newspaper, website, all the same stuff I use now. B2B is the question, for now this is offered to commercial only. I am afraid most if not all of the above will land not on the decision makers desk but be intercepted by the secretary. I know I can hit the pavement but is there any other means which may produce leads?

My question is.... How would you market this?
Did you do the due diligence on the company?

Do they have the money to follow through?

If you are satisfied, I would contact the newspaper with a press release that you are the local agent for such and such company.

Then I would join the local chamber of commerce and go to the after hour meetings they have. Be prepared to pass out business cards etc.

The other way if you have time is to call on all of the businesses you know the decision maker at.

I would also direct market all of the target companies.

B2B marketing is tough, but can be enjoyable when you are successful!

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Old 05-10-2010, 07:32 PM   #3
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


I’m a little surprised by the business model. Is it common to have a solar company install and maintain the panels for free and only charge for the electricity? I personally would probably want to own the assets and generate my own power. Isn’t that the point of using solar power? So you don’t have to pay the man for electricity?

Doesn’t this firm you became an agent for offer marketing guidelines or advice?

If you don’t have the capital to hire a fulltime sales rep to get you past the front desk of commercial leads, you could try outsourcing this to a B2B marketing firm. Look up a company called grindstone (I’d post the link, but I don’t have the required 15 posts yet). Although it looks like “telemarketing,” it’s not. It’s more like full-service, custom sales reps.

These types of firms are becoming rather popular because you don’t have to make a major commitment in terms of HR. Furthermore, they have access to huge data sets and resources that would allow you to target the right businesses. i.e. firms that own their real estate instead of leasing. It ain’t cheap though.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:46 PM   #4
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


I've got a question on this approach.
Since a HO's wouldn't actually be buying
the system out right,will they still be
eligible for the current 30% tax credit
that expires December 31, 2016?
It seems that the credit wouldn't be available
so alternative financing may be less costly.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:50 PM   #5
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Hs is the guys name Ralph A.. by any chance? If it is RUN!
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:01 PM   #6
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Quote:
Originally Posted by oldfrt View Post
I've got a question on this approach.
Since a HO's wouldn't actually be buying
the system out right,will they still be
eligible for the current 30% tax credit
that expires December 31, 2016?
It seems that the credit wouldn't be available
so alternative financing may be less costly.

The company gets the credit and incentives in this case not the customer.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Quote:
Originally Posted by festerized View Post
Hs is the guys name Ralph A.. by any chance? If it is RUN!

Nope never heard of him
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:50 PM   #8
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Quote:
Originally Posted by HSConstruction View Post
I came across a company who will design, install, insure and mantain the system at no cost to the owner. They essentially become the power company and the consumer buys the power produced on their property at a discounted price, initially 10% and increasing to about 35-40% over time.

For residential I would use postcards, fliers, newspaper, website, all the same stuff I use now. B2B is the question, for now this is offered to commercial only. I am afraid most if not all of the above will land not on the decision makers desk but be intercepted by the secretary. I know I can hit the pavement but is there any other means which may produce leads?

My question is.... How would you market this?
I think that your best bet would be to educate your customers on the benefits of solar panels and all the savings they could get from it. Aside from that, think about the "standby power" slant. B2B, I think the most you could go for is for a referral basis. If other contractors have homes or offices that want solar panels, they go to you, you pay them a percentage of the money that comes from it.

For businesses, I'd say call them. Cold calling would be painful but it will be beneficial. Just a thought though, you should know that alternative energy in general is a black or white thing, either they have thought about it and want it, OR they don't know about it and don't want it. If they don't want it in the first place, it's going to be very difficult to change their minds.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:11 PM   #9
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Okay I put together a rough draft of the text and I am looking for some critiquing. I want to really nail down the message before I worry about the design.

link to text
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Old 05-22-2010, 01:01 PM   #10
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


I was in some organization for a year that was designed for essentially large companies and vendors thereof for physical services. Forget what it's called, something like IFMA, International Facilities Managers Association.

Join, meet people, at least it's the contacts for large companies. Don't expect much. Most of the ones I met see this as a way to get out of the office for meetings and weren't real interested in anything most of the contractors could do, unless they were already in a client-vendor relsp.
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Old 05-22-2010, 03:22 PM   #11
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Your B2B flyer looks reasonable, couple of minor points, but may I first ask a preliminary question... how will you be distributing these flyers? and where are the names and addresses coming from?
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:52 PM   #12
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


This was..or is the draft of text for the postcard / flyer. I intend on using a purchased list to get these out. I think the best and most cost effective method may be canvassing or cold calling. Another thing I was considering is to contact solar companies and make a deal with them: Any lead they determine dead or about to be awarded to someone else could be passed to me. I would then make sure that they are the installers for that job. That takes the cost objection right out of the equation and there should be very few reasons why the building owner not to deal with me. That seems like a win-win. At that point their marketing $$$ bring the leads and I can help to make sure they get the job.

Website is something I am working on as well, here it is in the rough draft version on the backend of a friends website. Once the final layout is done it will be moved to my domain. Mind you I have done the design and text so any suggestions are definitely welcome.
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:59 AM   #13
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


Firstly I gotta say, I don't know much about solar. The extent of my understanding is that I looked up a bunch of stuff (in a residential sense) a year or two back and quickly came to the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that it was still way too expensive to be feasible, and that unless I or a client lived in a sun-rich state then there seemed little point. That said, and maybe I have it all wrong, I can give you a pointer or two about your marketing to grab some appointments to let you put your case forward...

If you are proposing contacting business owners who might benefit, my inclination would be to make it low volume high quality. It is all relative to the time and effort you wanna throw at this. You could put together a general mailer throw it at USPS and hope some mud sticks to the wall, but that ain't going tell you who passes qualification #1 - would that not be that they have a south facing building and a sufficient roof area?

I might do it by targeting area by area, basically a drive around, pick out likely candidates, use my little electronic memo, get back to base and then throw their details into a database. Now I don't know how good you are at throwing databases together? - the reason for the d/b is for the process I am about to propose you have a think about...

Rather (or in addition to mailing) than mailing, you cold call the business owner, you don't ask for an appointment, but explain that you have noticed their building whilst recently in Main Street and you believe that they might be a prospect for solar allowing them to reduce their energy overhead- I would tell them that you honestly don't know but if they express an outline interest, you are going to do a little research and would it be ok to fax over a general outline of the solar scheme you have in mind... click from the database - and the [personalized for owner] fax is sent from your desktop... and you should be able to get back to him later today, will he be available for your return call?

Now I have used this technique many times in the past, it works well on a number of levels. It is a very softly, softly approach and you are not selling anything, not even the idea of an appointment initially- that changes on call #2 of course

I would hit a target of say... 10 businesses each day, build a routine for religiously finding, entering, calling and sending them the info by fax, and then following up each very quickly- not days later, same day or next morning!

I am not sure I would use a blanket mailer approach to this, just my initial thoughts. If you are just looking for pointer about the mailer you posted, I would add a section at the base allowing the recipient to enter their name etc., and fax it back saying they are interested in further info

There are a number of benefits to fax, most of which many have tended to ignore since the web
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:13 AM   #14
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


If you are going after the business owner market then your target audience isn't going to be the business owner. Its going to be the landlord who owns the building that the business owner leases from. Since said BO will have to get permission from the LL to build on the roof. So I would get to know your local commercial real estate property management companies and work though them. Something to remember... Cookies, candy, pizza, etc stand out in people's minds and a box of donuts dropped off in the break room with your cards and some flyers at the local real estate office does wonders.

If its the residential market then you might consider doing some "solar tours" where you work with a local HO who has solar where people come over to see the outside of the house with the panels etc on it. You tell the HO that you will give them $x for each lead generated that turns into an order and you ask them to be "green energy advocates" or "solar advocates". You put their name on the flyer and invite neighbors over for a "tour" where you sit outside with a small day tent, table, a couple of small panels, literature on solar energy, etc and answer questions while walking people around the house showing them the panels and talking about how much ConEd has to pay them for power etc.
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:16 PM   #15
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


tbronson is right... ooops! - translate BO to LL for the research, unless your list is one of LLs
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:26 PM   #16
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Re: Advice On How To Market This...


LL == Land Lord. BO == Business Owner *NOT* Body Oder! Sorry commercial side coming through. Dealing with a real piece of work LL right now on a project. He actually does have BO. I think he washes once a month.

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