This guide will help everyone from digital directors, marketing directors, and business development managers working in solar manufacturing and distributing organizations. It will also be helpful for the C-suite, sales, and customer-facing teams. Readers will learn the peculiarities of marketing tactics in solar manufacturing, distribution, and industrial sectors, how to form the right solar marketing strategies, and what obstacles to avoid. It’s a must-read for:
Understanding that the millennials who grew up in the Internet era are now industrial buyers and turn to an Internet search to look for things is one of the main points to consider when doing solar industry marketing. We also need to assume that the pandemic’s restrictions have changed how customers look for information, interact with brands, and buy.
Traditionally, manufacturers and distributors relied heavily on traditional B2B exchanges and marketing activities (trade shows, cold calling, printed brochures) to reach their prospects and increase their solar equipment sales. Even when they are still helpful, going digital has some advantages that a traditional marketing approach doesn’t have:
In brief, digital marketing for manufacturers helps improve your business visibility and reputation. It offers a new channel to connect with industrial buyers, even when you are at the very beginning of the value chain.
A digital strategy will also support your wholesale sales strategy by improving your brand visibility if you are into wholesale. You can also take advantage of this kind of strategy by offering your customers a communication channel with specific information about your products, inventories, and customer service. Altogether, it will help increase your wholesale sales.
In the end, if you combine traditional and digital strategies, you'll have a robust solar panel marketing strategy, translated into more chances of increasing your solar sales.
So, how do you start with marketing for your solar business? Before anything else, you require to develop a robust and unique value proposition (UVP).
Ask yourself: What is the pain that my product or service is relieving? How is my product different from competitors?
Suppose you are a solar distributor, and you’re selling to installers. You may ease the process from finding and contacting manufacturers, storing large amounts of inventory, and perhaps offering some financing.
What does this mean at the end?
It means that they will have reduced inventory costs and more equipment options to provide to their customers.
If you are a manufacturer, your UVP may be the quality of the products offered, if you can give bulk order discounts, provide some kind of warranty, if your geographical localization is closer than other manufacturers, etc. In both cases, make sure always to highlight the extras that make your business more attractive to your target market.
Now that you have your UVP set, you might be wondering: How do solar companies get customers with the help of digital marketing? As solar marketing experts, we advise you to begin by organizing every step of your sales process through a marketing funnel to establish a strong presence from the outset.
Industrial buyers move through your sales funnel in stages, and the time it takes them to go from the top to the bottom of the funnel is longer than in the typical B2C buying cycle. Prospects' paths through your funnel may vary, but they'll all rate it according to how much they liked or didn't like your offer.
It's helpful to have a marketing funnel because it lets you see what potential consumers think and do throughout their buying process. As a result of these insights, you can focus your marketing efforts on the most effective tactics and channels. You will also be able to craft the most effective messages at each step and increase the number of paying customers.
Prospects at the top of your sales funnel have already identified that they need a product or service. However, they have no intention of purchasing at that exact moment. They're only interested in learning more and getting answers to their inquiries at this point.
Creating content on digital platforms, such as industry reports, e-books, white papers, articles, blog posts, and multimedia, is an excellent solution to address their queries. This way, they will start getting familiar with your brand name, and you will begin building the perception as an authority in your space.
At this stage, the prospects are actively looking for solutions and collecting information. Potential customers who have made it this far are prone to take any action that gets them closer to their goal: engaging with your content, writing you an email requesting information, or booking a call with a sales agent.
As they continue their research, they're seeking more detailed information. Just as you would do when making in-person sales, you must explain to your potential customers what you have to offer and the long-term benefits of working with you. This can be done through infographics, hard business data, among content assets.
At this stage of the sales funnel, your prospects have studied their possibilities. Here is where they start weighing in the pros and cons of their options.
At this point, prospects respond well to more direct marketing techniques. You can now employ content geared towards highlighting why you are the best option, like comparison charts with your competitors, case studies, or testimonials of previous or current customers.
You can also use solar ads with an attractive offer or free consultations with your sales agent to dispel their doubts. The key is to offer them value even before they buy.
Here is where the buyer keeps only the options they consider a good fit, depending on their specific needs.
The buyer has already made the purchase decision that best fits their needs. You must make sure that the purchasing experience is smooth and make them feel that they made the best decision choosing you.
This stage is essential since it is more cost-effective retaining existing customers than acquiring new business. This stage becomes vital for B2B businesses like yours since you turn your customers into long-term business partners. Succeeding at retention will increase ROI, create loyalty, and, if done well, turn your current customers into your brand ambassadors.
To succeed at this stage, you must offer a good buying and delivery experience that is smooth and personalized to their specific needs. Also, you can designate a salesperson for that account to take care of following up on their needs. Having a client service team will let them know that you care about their business, and are always willing to help, too. To facilitate reputation, you can use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software.
Your company can leverage paid and unpaid platforms like search and social media to establish a competitive solar marketing plan that brings in qualified leads and promotes sales.
Content marketing is the practice of promoting your website's content by including written and graphic pieces on it. When it comes to it, a blog is the most frequent format because it is easy to keep fresh with new information about your company or industry trends.
Let’s say you are selling solar panels. You can create informative content on your solar products and slide in the “not-so-promotional” range about your solar business. Also, you can showcase your solar distributorship business, solar branding, etc.
Additionally, it involves generating user-friendly manuals or infographics for customers eager to learn about all the specifics of your products or services. For instance, you can speak about your delivery process, solar manufacturing process, and solar PV sales process. You can also use video clips and images of your facilities and products to showcase your business.
With content marketing, you can also connect with your existing wholesale customers. The ultimate purpose of content creation is to give visitors to your website a positive user experience and to show your authority on the topic.
In addition, by using content, you position your brand as an authority within your chosen niche.
Even if you use traditional solar distribution channels, your marketing strategies and tactics must be enhanced and employed across the digital ecosystem. Enter “solar companies city, state” or “solar panel distributors city, state” into Google to find more information. If your solar company's website does not appear on the first search results page, you risk losing business to competitors.
Improving your website's visibility in search engine results is known as search engine optimization (SEO), and solar companies' digital marketing strategies should start with it.
Start with looking for keywords and frequently asked questions that your buyer persona is likely to ask during their customer journey.
What are their pain points?
What is the solution they are looking to achieve?
All of those inquiries indicate that consumers are interested in learning more about products like yours. You can take these opportunities to get closer to your buyer and create content aligned to those queries using your researched keywords and terms.
You also have to make sure they can find your site by making it search engine-friendly:
Optimize your website's coding, add relevant HTML elements, and employ schema markup to assist search engines in understanding your site's content. If other websites link to yours, search engines will interpret these links as “votes of confidence,” meaning your brand is a reliable source of information.
Using your Google My Business listing is a simple and effective strategy to build customer confidence. Your business name, customer reviews, and photographs should appear in a panel on the right of Google results if you search for your company by name. It's easy to add this listing if you don't see it already. However, before you do that, keep in mind that your customers' reviews will display there.
Ask your most loyal customers to leave you a Google review, and their glowing endorsements will encourage others to do the same. If you have a Google My Business listing, you can also use it to submit promotions, articles, photographs, and even demonstration videos.
This photo shows an example of a Google My Business profile.
Suppose someone is looking for a solar wholesaler, manufacturer, or distributor in their region. In that case, your Google My Business listing will pop up within the local search pack, and they'll be able to form an opinion about you quickly. They'll have more faith in your claims if they read positive feedback.
This image shows an example of a Google map pack.
Having a social media presence will give you a channel to promote your brand and become closer to your customers. Social media works for manufacturers, distributors, and wholesale businesses, not just for retail companies.
In addition, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to provide outstanding customer support. It is possible for those who do not know how to contact you to post a message on your wall or tweet you directly, allowing you to respond to them right away. This is an excellent method for your company to create relationships with customers and deliver exemplary service.
Connecting with them on social media and answering their queries, providing customer solutions, and posting about your business will help you create trust with them.
Advertising and sponsored marketing are essential components of your overall growth strategy. You can use Google Ads, social media, or other websites to advertise:
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising appears at the top of the results page when consumers use Google to look up a term like “solar panel distributors” or “solar manufacturers.” Businesses (like yours) pay to have their products or services appear at the top of relevant searches.
For B2B customers, the most popular searches are “how to find solar distributors,” “solar distributors wanted,” and “find wholesalers.” You should incorporate these search terms (among others) as you develop your search engine marketing strategy.
The ads framed in red are traditional Google search ads. The ads framed in blue are Google Shopping ads.
Display advertising includes placements like banner ads that appear on Google’s properties (i.e., YouTube) or network of websites, known as Google Search Partners. These advertisements are frequently displayed as eye-catching banners. Ads on Google's display network may advertise a limited-time offer or mention an eBook.
Display ad examples from SEI
Expert Tip: Ensure that you develop ad designs that match Google’s specifications. Click here to read more here.
Social media ads are a subset of display advertising, focusing on paid ad placements on popular social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Each of these platforms has its unique inventory of available ad placements. We recommend reviewing your target buyer personas. Next, consider where these individuals may congregate online, then make paid ads on that social channel a part of your brand’s digital strategy.
Click below to read more about the ad placement opportunities for each of the popular social media platforms.
We exclude Snapchat and TikTok from this as the audiences on those platforms skew to a younger demographic.
Expert Tip: If your company focuses solely on B2B, prioritize LinkedIn as the platform provides granular targeting by industry, seniority, and job titles and roles.
Have you ever visited a website only to see advertisements for it pop up on other websites or social media platforms after you left the site? The advertising that follows you around the web is called retargeting. What you've just done is known as “cookie-based retargeting.”
Web servers can store text in cookies on users' computers. Such cookies let a website save and retrieve information from a user's digital footprint.
In marketing, there is a Rule of 7, which dictates that a prospect must see your brand’s message at least seven times before making a buying decision. With the saturation of online ads and content, this number is likely even more significant now.
Retargeting provides an automated approach to ensure your solar brand stays top of mind for your target audience.
People are increasingly turning to YouTube to learn new things. You can partner with a videographer to create content for your solar business.
Any modern smartphone can film high-quality videos if working with a professional videographer is out of your marketing budget. You can use this option to get started on your video marketing journey.
Your business gains credibility if you have a YouTube channel to advertise and educate your audience about what you offer.
Answering frequently asked questions about solar energy gives you credibility and adds value to your readers' experiences. After that, YouTube ads (administered through the Google Ads platform) can help spread the word about your channel and brand.
To learn more about YouTube marketing, check out our YouTube for Solar Marketing Guide.
Solar B2B exchanges present an excellent opportunity to keep a pulse on the solar market. B2B marketplaces like EnergyBin can provide market intelligence that reveals which products are moving.
No matter whether you are a solar manufacturing company, a solar product distribution business, or a wholesaler, your potential customers should be able to find you. A digital marketing strategy can enhance your traditional marketing channels and help your solar brand establish online and offline omnipresence.
To succeed with digital, you should:
Solar is a growing industry. It is vital to have a clear digital marketing strategy to define your buyer persona’s pain points and needs. Make sure that you effectively communicate to them your value proposition and how you will help them at each step of the funnel to convert them into loyal customers.
What does it look like when all these elements work together for your solar company’s digital presence? Often, it means having a team dedicated to your digital efforts to expand your brand’s reach and impact.
Growing your online presence takes time and effort, but the payoff can be enormous as you develop your website as an asset that generates new business. There is no “magic bullet” for digital solar marketing, so combine a robust and user-friendly website with other initiatives such as Google Ads, SEO, and content, and you'll see significant results.
Are you looking for a reliable partner to assist you in developing your solar brand's online presence? Our team of digital marketing experts has a wealth of experience, having worked on projects ranging from SEO campaigns for commercial solar installation companies to paid media campaigns for renewable energy commodity companies.
We are overjoyed that we chose Destiny!! Leonard and his team are incredible. We finished our sprint with them about a month ago, and our company now appears on the first SERP for every state in which we operate.
- Aurora Energy is a Maryland-based commercial solar installer.
We are a solar digital marketing agency specializing in creating custom lead generation systems and digital marketing strategies for solar companies at every value chain stage.
Learn more about how we can assist you in reaching your objectives.