Telling Your Solar Story

04 March of 2010 by

img 0427 Telling Your Solar Story

At HelioPower we help our clients tell their solar story. 

We workwith commercial, community and utility clients creating communicationprograms to herald their new solar power installation.   Our effortshelp them weave the aspects of a solar installation into an overallgreen marketing message that supports their brand.

Solar is an exciting addition to an organization’s environmentalefforts.  In fact, a solar power system assists on multiple levels of aTriple Bottom Line approach benefiting the company’s people, its profits and environmental efforts (the planet).

Having successfully completed several affiliate marketing programsfor HelioPower clients, this information is designed to contribute tothe industry’s knowledge base and guidelines for successfully telling aclient’s solar story and thus contributing to their overall greenmarketing message.

Nearly all of our commercial and public sector clients have workedthrough the normal list of “reduce your energy and energy use costs”before they adopt solar.  Way before the solar conversation starts theyhave harvested the “low hanging environmental fruit” of recycling,green purchasing, etc.  Past this phase, they move to implementingenergy monitoring to determine peak demand usage and reduce it, andenergy use overall to create cost reduction programs. Out of thisinformation comes the use of energy efficiency technologies includinglighting, motors, HVAC, etc.  Solar is not generally where they startor where they should start, unless they are building a new U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) structure. Then solarpower technologies should be part of the design from the initial stagesof the development.

Once solar is part of the client’s overall green building, thusenvironmental strategy, HelioPower works with them to communicate therole solar plays in these efforts and thus the environmental aspects oftheir brand.

A marketing / communication program for a HelioPower solar clientbecomes appropriate when we can implement the following guidelines:
• Assist our clients to communicate environmental benefits of solar
• Optimize strategic partner alliances
• Involve the community, green building, local and state government
• Utilize Internet and social media to provide transparency & communication
• Educate stakeholders
• Work as a team

Each solar promotion program will have its unique opportunities andchallenges.  In order for solar promotion program to be successful wehave found that it is essential to meet all of these objectives. 

HelioPower assists our clients to communicate environmental benefits of solar. Part of our responsibility as an organization’s solar power partner isto help them gather the information needed about their solarinstallation.  We assist them in developing a full understanding oftheir solar power system, how it works, energy generation data,environmental offset data, how to explain it to their constituents andwhatever information they need to communicate their solar program. 

We provide information online about the client’s solar power installation on the HelioPower website. Our efforts are coordinated with the client’s to create informationthat is easy to access and captures all the correct data about thesolar project. 

Affiliate marketing programs must optimize strategic partner alliances. At HelioPower we have


Bill Nye, the "Science Guy" shines light on Bob’s Big Boy solar event, supported by Canadian Solar, SMA and sponsors

the distinct pleasure of working with some of the industry’s greatbrands and high profile clients.  Any program that we participate in orspearhead for one of our clients must involve strategic partners in theindustry and those affiliated with our client.  Communicating the solarstory would not be complete without involving the solar power panelmanufacturer, inverter partner, and potentially the energy performancemonitoring company.  It can also involve brands that do business withthe client as was the case with the Bob’s Big Boy campaignwe implemented last fall.  The key is to involve those within theindustry who have participated in the solar installation by way ofproduct and those who do business with the client.

Involve the community, green building, local and state government. One of the very exciting aspects of taking on a communication programto highlight a solar installation is involving the stakeholders in thecommunity. 

receiving gvi award opt Telling Your Solar Story
Community groups gather to support Porsche solar panel dedication

We are all obviously familiar with the solar “ribbon cutting/ throwthe switch” ceremony.  These are important celebrations of thecommitment the client has made to solar power generation.  This type ofevent is the most valuable when it is an opportunity to reach out tostakeholders in the community and give them a chance to support theclient. 

In the construction phase of a solar celebration or marketingprogram, it is our job to identify community, green building, local andstate governmental groups and leaders who should be involved in aprogram.  And you don’t need to stop here.  You can reach out to aloyal customer base, supporters, local charity groups, and any otherorganization whose contribution to the program will enrich all partiesinvolved.

Utilize Internet and social media to provide transparency & communication.Marketing messages regarding environmental strategies must betransparent and easy to find online.   This upholds the integrity ofthe message. 

It is critical to strategize the online aspects of a client’s solarmarketing program.  The effort may be as simple as identifying the bestmedia distribution source and insuring the joint press release issupported with accurate online information about the solarinstallation.  It may be a more comprehensive approach that involves aprogram-specific website.  Each effort is unique.  Insuringopportunities for an online program are investigated and maximized asneeded is essential.

Educate stakeholders.  Telling a solar story mustinclude programs to educate the client’s constituents.  Programstypically include communication to employees, investors, media andpress, community members, etc.  When you are considering a program,think about what groups are involved with your company or client andwhat aspects of the solar installation would hold meaning for them. Within a particular solar story, different themes and information willhold meaning for each distinct constituent group.  Thinking through allthese “story lines” will create positive communication and honor themany groups that support or are involved with the client, and thus havesome level of involvement with the solar installation.

Work as a team.  Our renewable energy industry isfilled with talented, positive professionals who are a joy to workalongside and truly are impassioned by their mission within theindustry.  We have the distinct pleasure to assist our clients incommunicating their solar story.  Thus we work to create a teamapproach for each marketing program, from a relatively simple pressrelease to solar ribbon cutting events and more elaborate affiliatemarketing programs. 

It takes a dedicated team of client and solar installation companyindividuals to successfully design and install a solar power system. Sotoo the best programs to tell a client’s solar story, within theauspices of their brand message, also involve a team effort.

You can reach me at gwiseman@HelioPower.com.  I welcome your comments, insights and observations.

Guidelines for communicating the solar aspect of a green marketing program

By Glenna Wiseman, Vice President, Marketing, HelioPower

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