Okay, besides having easy financing, what’s the most powerful solar marketing tool that any installer can use? First, let’s briefly mention the traditional marketing tools:
- Print advertising.
- Radio spots,
- Brochures, flyers, direct mail
- Making news with a unique installation
Add to that the new internet marketing tools, such as blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter, and you should be generating some leads, if you’re executing these plans well.
However, there’s one extremely important marketing tool that’s missing from the above list, and I would argue that it is the most powerful of all of them:
Customer referrals are more powerful than all of the above because people, whether business people or homeowners, are suspicious of advertising and any information that has a logo on it. However, these same people already trust their colleagues, friends, and neighbors. And when they make a big change—like going solar—that can be very interesting….
So, if Joe Apartment Building Owner talks to his friends and business associates about how he just installed a solar thermal system on his apartment building/home/pool, saving thousands every year, his friends and colleagues will probably be curious and ask the usual frequently asked questions:
“How much did it cost, Joe?” “How much will you save?” “How did you finance it?” “What’s the ROI?”
And here’s where a lot of solar hot water–and PV–installers lose opportunities. It’s not enough for Joe to answer those questions and maybe send a link to your website. If you’ve done a great install and provided great customer service during Joe’s install, then you’ve built your own trusted relationship, and now you have the opportunity to help and inspire Joe to refer you to his friends.
- Ask Joe if you can leave 10 brochures, flyers, or business cards with him in case his friends or colleagues see his system and would like info about their homes or businesses.
- Could you leave a lawn sign on his property for a week or two or longer? Something along the lines of “Check out our solar panels! Our building’s water is now heated by the sun! www.FreeHotWater.com”
- Offer Joe some kind of monetary benefit for a closed sale from a referral. Use some kind of unique referral code. As to how much, $250? $500? It’s up to you and perhaps you can scale it according to the size.
- Ask Joe if he’d like a small BBQ for him and his friends to launch the system and explain how the system works and its benefits. Many customers are very proud that they’ve gone solar and want to celebrate it. (But only after they’re secure that it made financial sense.)
- Ask Joe to become a fan of your Facebook page or Twitter account, giving him the opportunity to passively spread more useful info to his online peers.
- Give Joe a branded, fun, solar tee-shirt for him or his family. Make sure you have kid and toddler sizes. Not a tee-shirt fan? How about a set of branded coffee mugs or travel mugs to hold that solar heated coffee or tea.
- Check in with Joe every 6 months to a year with a phone call or email. Ask him if he has any problems with his system and offer a free maintenance check. If you have sold him a solar monitoring system, even better. Remind Joe of the solar production numbers and explain the data, if needed. This is great customer service and also another opportunity to remind him about your monetary referral program.
And if you’re worried that Joe is going to have problems, so best to let sleeping dogs lie? My answer to that is that I’d rather discover installation problems. If Joe discovers them through a leak or lower than expected savings, he’ll talk to his friends about the terrible installation and service he received from you. Your pro-activeness will make up for any losses and prevent lawsuits.
Customer referral programs cost very little, but they do take time and customer care. The dividends, however, can multiply and pay off handsomely in multiple sales, as well as organic public relations and branding.
Do you have referral plan? If not, you do now.
And by the way, if this plan generates some sales for you, we hope you’ll refer yourself…. back to shop.freehotwater.com to find everything you need for a quality installation.
Now go start that referral plan.