Clean energy state program guide

Smart Solar Marketing Strategies
Prepared by
Clean Energy Group and SmartPower
A U G U S T 2 0 0 9
Acknowledgments
many people have been helpful in the development of this report, including lew milford
and maria Blais of Clean energy group; Warren leon, formerly of the massachusetts re-
newable energy trust; roger Clark from pennsylvania’s trF sustainable development Fund;
adele Ferranti, dave Friello and Judy Jarnefeld of nyserda; lizzie guiles rubado and Betsy
Kauffman of energy trust of oregon; eran mahrer and rex stepp of arizona public service;
molly sterkel of California CpuC; sandy miller and amy morgan of the California new solar
Homes partnership; ryan Helton and Jane tabor of new mexico energy, minerals and natu-
ral resources department; tom plant and Jeff lyng from Colorado’s governor’s energy of-
fce; Ann Marie McShea and Scott Hunter from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Sam
nutter of massachusetts’ Commonwealth solar initiative; and lise dondy and dale Hedman
of the Connecticut Clean energy Fund.
the opinions presented in this report are those of Clean energy group and smartpower
and are not intended to represent the position of Clean energy states alliance or any of
its individual members, or the u.s. department of energy.

FinancialSupport
support for this report was generously provided by Clean energy states alliance and the
department of energy’s solar energy technologies program.
Disclaimer
Clean energy group and smartpower do not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the
accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process
that is referred to in this report. References in this report to any specifc commercial prod-
uct, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not
constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring neither by the united states
government or any agency thereof nor of the individual members of the Clean energy states
alliance. the views and opinions expressed in this web site do not necessarily state or re-
fect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof, or the individual mem-
bers of the Clean energy states alliance.
TableofContents
executive summary 1
introduction and Background 4
marketing and the 4 p’s 5
Building a marketing plan 7
marketing strategy #1: improving the Value equation for solar 8
marketing strategy #2: reinforcing the reliability of solar technology 12
marketing strategy #3: reducing the Complexity of solar 17
marketing strategy #4: overcoming Customer inertia 20
marketing strategy #5: Finding the right message 22
marketing strategy #6: reaching new Customer markets 25
developing a marketing plan: How to Begin 26
Conclusion 27
smart solar marKeting strategies
Prepared by
Clean Energy Group and SmartPower
A U G U S T 2 0 0 9
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    Executive Summary
this report showcases smart marketing strategies from clean energy programs and solar
marketers from across the country that address how to overcome the barriers faced by
solar technology markets and serves as a guide for states in pursuing their own market
planning process.
While there has been a major increase in solar photovoltaic (pV) installations in recent
years, the total amount of solar power installed nonetheless represents less than 0.1% of
u.s. energy production. in order for solar energy to make a sizeable contribution to jobs, a
green economy, and greenhouse gas reductions, more solar technology deployment will be
required. However, installing solar technologies is no simple task. the reality is that in order
to drive more solar power installations, solar programs must address the key barriers to its
market growth.
although state solar programs report limited marketing initiatives of their own, this per-
spective refects a narrow defnition of marketing – one that primarily focuses on communi-
cations-centered initiatives, such as website strategies, public relations activities, and educa-
tion of stakeholders. these marketing resources are important. However, marketing in the
broader sense should play an important role to expand the growth of solar, and state solar
programs play a critical role in creating and supporting effective marketing initiatives that
can address the major market barriers. The American Marketing Association defnes mar-
keting as “the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and
distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and or-
ganizational objectives.” effective marketing guides how, when, and where product infor-
mation is presented to consumers, with the ultimate goal of persuading consumers to pur-
chase a particular brand or product. therefore, state solar program managers must see
themselves as a critical part of the solar sales process.
For marketing to be successful, it must create a desire for a product. a marketer, therefore,
needs to understand: a) current consumer perceptions of the product and what must be
overcome to improve those perceptions, b) what price/value equation will have the most
appeal, c) who do consumers believe to be credible sources of product information, and d)
where to place this key information in the form of promotion, advertising, etc., so that it
will reach the right consumer target. When all of these elements are successfully integrat-
ed, marketing connects with the consumer and builds desire for the product, resulting in
a sale.
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Cost. Consumers report high up-front and out-of-pocket costs and long payback periods
deter them from installing solar energy technology.

2. reliability. the absence of solar technologies in the public’s eye and confusion about
its performance and capabilities create concerns about the reliability of solar technology;
it is not perceived as up to the task of powering our energy needs.
3. Complexity. the time consuming and complex nature of purchasing and installing solar
energy systems discourages potential customers.
4. Inertia. The lengthy decision-making process and fnancial complexity of the solar sale
often result in consumer inertia.
smartpower also learned from over seven years of message research in the area of renew-
able energy and energy effciency that the “environmental” message is not the answer to
motivate consumers to purchase renewable energy technologies. Consumers already under-
stand the environmental benefts of solar power, but those benefts have not been persua-
sive enough to broaden market adoption. therefore, in addition to addressing these barriers,
solar programs also must create a connection with customers through marketing messages
that are likely to enhance interest and lead to further inquiry. messages that connect on a
fnancial or value level are most likely to succeed.
the need to understand consumer attitudes and develop programs and communication
approaches that address those barriers ultimately means that state solar programs must
tHinK and aCt liKe retailers. a retailer knows how essential it is to:
let the public know what it offers
create pricing that appeals to the public
demonstrate and stand by the quality of the product
make it as easy as possible to make the purchase
create a buzz about the product that generates interest and action
1.





Consumers consistently report a preference for energy produced from renewable energy
sources but invariably fail to purchase renewable energy in sizeable numbers. research con-
ducted by smartpower and detailed in this report was designed to identify the barriers to
solar purchases, address consumer concerns, and provide state solar programs with guide-
lines that should be integrated into their overall marketing approach. SmartPower’s fndings
concluded that there are four primary barriers to solar market growth, and all four must
be addressed to expand the market. those barriers include:
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For retailers, success is easy to measure: it’s the ringing of the cash register. a state solar
program’s marketing activities, to be effective, also must lead to an action: an application
for a solar program’s fnancial incentive to purchase and install a solar energy system. While
state solar programs are not directly “selling solar installations” to customers, nevertheless,
they measure success in the form of megawatts of solar installed. therefore, the state mar-
keting approaches and activities must lead the customer to the solar sale. By starting with
that end in mind, state programs can focus their limited marketing resources to address the
major marketing barriers, overcome consumer resistance and broaden the market.
to achieve state solar megawatt goals, a solar marketing plan must address the technology’s
value proposition, its perception of unreliability, the complexity of purchasing solar and
consumer inertia.
this guide cites many marketing initiatives that are contributing to the growth and interest
in solar across the country. However, the guide is not meant to be a clearinghouse of all solar
marketing programs, nor an endorsement of any one particular approach. instead, it is of-
fered to provide solar programs and stakeholders with examples of innovative strategies
that can make a difference in solar marketing.
Mark Sinclair,CleanEnergyGroup
Lyn Rosoff, SmartPower
August 2009
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in april 2008, Clean energy group (Ceg) released
a report on state strategies for building a strong
solar marketplace entitled Clean Energy State
Program Guide: Mainstreaming Solar Electricity:
Strategies for States to Build Local Markets. the
report identifed critical state policies and pro-
grams necessary to build a successful solar pro-
gram. the report highlighted best practices from
states with robust solar programs, addressing
such issues as state renewable portfolio standards,
equipment ratings, long-term fnancing, building
codes, installation standards, training, and mar-
keting and education. (see http://www.cleane-
group.org/reports/Ceg_mainstreaming-solar-
electricity_apr2008.pdf)

This report is designed to complement the fnd-
ings from Ceg’s Mainstreaming Solar Electricity
Program Guide and to provide a similarly helpful
tool that focuses on how marketing initiatives
can help achieve state solar program goals. By
identifying and addressing consumer barriers,
state incentive programs can increase the de-
mand for solar power and achieve megawatt
goals. this report showcases examples from clean
energy programs and solar marketers from across
the country that have addressed these barriers,
and serves as a guide for states in pursuing their
own market planning process.
Background
the marketplace for solar is exploding as more
states increase investment in solar incentive pro-
grams. The 2008 solar market was fve times the
size of the 2007 market, which grew 57% over
2006 levels. However, solar installations totaled
only 80,000 in the united states in 2007 and most
were concentrated in a few states, with 69% of
all installations in California alone.
now is an important time for states to use focused
solar marketing efforts to attract new customers
to solar and bring this renewable energy technol-
ogy into the mainstream. as natural gas and oil
prices remain volatile, commercial and residential
consumers are beginning to appreciate the price
stability that solar power offers.
Many customers with a fnancial focus are now
motivated beyond environmental attributes to
look at solar power for the frst time. However,
with an uncertain economy and fnancial resources
stretched for both commercial and residential
customers, the need to market solar effectively
is more critical than ever.
Introduction
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Marketing and the 4 P’s
We live in a society that bombards consumers
with messages, from pop-ups on computers, to
on-line chat room links, to e-newsletters and e-
blasts, to advertising in traditional media, all de-
signed to build a “share of mind” for a product,
service or social cause. marketing is at the heart
of every successful brand, business, organization,
and cause. marketing is not merely communica-
tions. it is the sum presentation to the customer
of a value equation that results in a sale or action.
marketing is the process of identifying what the
consumer needs, how the product or service can
address that need, how to communicate that value
in a compelling way, and how to deliver that mes-
sage in the most effcient and effective manner.
When state solar incentive program managers
think like marketers, they will sharpen the focus
of outreach efforts and improve the effectiveness
of their solar program offerings.
The classic elements of marketing – the 4 P’s:
Product, Price, Place, Promotion – offer a useful
matrix to assess state solar programs. solar pro-
gram initiatives should address each of the 4 p’s.
For example, a consumer will not buy a poorly
manufactured product or one with a questionable
reputation merely because the price is good. simi-
larly, the best quality product must be affordable
to ensure market share. While state solar pro-
grams do not produce solar panels, price them, or
control the quality of technology or installation,
their program success is integrally linked to the
success of solar suppliers. Both share the same
goal: building a strong customer base for solar
power in their region. each plays an important part
in marketing solar. However, state incentive pro-
grams defne the 4 P’s in a slightly different way
than do solar suppliers.
For marketing purposes, state programs can evalu-
ate the Product from the perspective of consum-
ers’ rational and emotional attitudes towards solar
technology. these attitudes affect the desire to
purchase. Consumer reaction to solar technology
(e.g., price, reliability, quality issues) informs mar-
keting and communications approaches by identi-
fying both the opportunities – the strengths and
positive attributes that should be marshaled – and
the barriers – the concerns and “issues” that pre-
vent sales.
Price is one of the single biggest barriers to grow-
ing the solar marketplace; many states are ad-
dressing the fnancing of solar to help overcome
consumer price concerns. Today, fnancing mecha-
nisms are broadening access to solar power and
making it available to new customer groups. How-
ever, states must ensure that prospective custom-
ers are aware of these new fnancing strategies
and aggressively promote the fnancial “value” of
solar products to consumer targets.
the Place, or channels through which solar is sold,
also is an area where solar programs have an im-
portant role through their work with installers,
developers, and suppliers. Building a strong sup-
plier network is critical in keeping up with rising
demand; ensuring that customers can easily fnd
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an installer is part of this task. states also should
look at how complex the solar sales process can
be for consumers and how solar programs can
minimize and ease the transaction process.

lastly, Promotion of solar should be a primary
focus as state programs seek to increase the visibil-
ity of solar installations and broaden the appeal of
their solar incentive programs. using communica-
tions and promotional strategies to favorably
present solar in the marketplace and ensuring that
the right messages are presented to the public will
help build a stronger market for solar technologies.
as solar incentive programs examine their pro-
gram offerings through the lens of Product, Price,
Place and Promotion, they may conclude that they
need to better understand their customer through
market research, focus their efforts on specifc tar-
get customer bases (customer segmentation), and
address key messages to reach those audiences
effectively and effciently (communications). This
evaluation process informs the elements of a solar
marketing plan. Whether a marketer’s goal is to
persuade a customer to visit a store, sample a new
product, purchase an existing product, visit a web-
site, make a donation to a nonproft organization,
or inquire about a solar incentive program, the
process is the same. in essence, marketing matches
the right customer to the right product, resulting
in a sale. as states apply marketing approaches to
their solar initiatives, they will become more cus-
tomer-focused, rather than program-focused, and,
as a result, become more effective in achieving
solar goals.
if one “starts with the end in mind,” a solar mar-
keting plan identifes how a state program will
achieve installed megawatt goals through acquisi-
tion of residential, commercial and institutional
customers. the 4p’s ensure that all aspects of the
“sale” are covered. improving the process of pur-
chasing solar will not alone make a difference in
overall sales if the price/value equation has not
been addressed. If consumers are not confdent
about the reliability of solar, improved pricing
alone will not matter. all elements must work to-
gether to motivate the target customer to take ac-
tion. therefore, the development of a solar mar-
keting plan must start with the consumer in mind.
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Building a Marketing Plan
the low market penetration of green energy pric-
ing products and solar technology suggests that
customers, whether they are residential or com-
mercial, have concerns about solar power that are
barriers to market growth. understanding what
consumers believe both rationally and emotionally
about solar technology will help shape the direc-
tion of a solar marketing plan.
in 2007, smartpower embarked on consumer re-
search studies in two very diverse states: arizona
and oregon. arizona public service (aps), the
state’s largest utility, was interested in improving
its existing solar incentive program. the energy
trust of oregon (eto) (manager of the state of
oregon’s solar incentive program) could not ex-
plain why a growing interest in solar, as seen
through rising attendance at monthly educational
seminars, was not translating into increased ap-
plication for its program’s solar incentives. in
both cases the goal was to better understand
how best to overcome market barriers, address
consumer needs and increase solar customers.
the oregon and arizona studies looked at both
residential solar customers and solar prospects
(smartpower refers to prospective customers as
“Inerts” – those who express interest in solar by
attending a seminar or requesting information,
but have not yet become buyers). Conducting
both quantitative and qualitative studies of these
customer segments provided valuable insights to
help shape the development of smart marketing
initiatives. While there is much to learn from these
studies, the key fndings point to several essential
elements for an effective solar marketing plan.
Based on these studies, the remainder of this
report will 1) identify major market barriers, 2)
detail smart marketing strategies to address each
barrier, and 3) recommend action steps to imple-
ment a successful marketing plan.
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smartpower’s studies showed that cost is the
single biggest barrier to purchasing solar among
those customers who attended solar seminars.
the value equation (the relationship between
the consumer’s expectations of the product’s
benefts to the costs) for solar is not strong and
high up-front costs are limiting market growth.
the oregon study found that less than 5% of
energy trust of oregon’s solar customers used
home equity loans or other fnancing to pay for
their solar installation. this indicates that the small
number of consumers who are able to afford solar
is a major factor in what has kept the market
growth for solar technologies so low; most inerts
were clear that the high out-of-pocket costs made
solar energy system purchases prohibitive.
there are important lessons for solar marketing
from the automobile industry. Car dealers have
long understood the value of promoting their
product by highlighting affordable monthly in-
stallments (whether through leasing arrangements
or purchase) rather than through full price sticker
shock. similarly, when solar incentive programs
provide a website calculator that informs the pro-
spective customer of the total cost of installing
solar, the message often serves as a deal stopper.
By “calculating” the cost of solar installation at
$20,000 or more, the homeowner may hit a mental
“delete” signal. Full cost information may be hin-
dering the advancement of a solar sale.
Therefore, while many states are putting fnanc-
ing programs in place to overcome the high cost
of solar, they also must ensure that consumers are
aware of those fnancial offerings. Often these
programs are available in small pilot programs,
or promoted through press releases and on the
program website only. this approach may at-
tract the well-informed, already-interested solar
prospect waiting to take advantage of these of-
ferings. However, the car dealer does not pro-
mote its low monthly pricing options only to its
existing customers. it can only succeed if it is
able to attract new customers. likewise, changing
the public’s perception about the affordability
MArkETi nG STrATEGy #1
i MProvi nGThEvAluE EquATi on oF SolAr
Oregon, 160 Respondents
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of solar power will ultimately make the most
difference in building consumer demand.
a primary marketing challenge for states to ad-
dress is to ensure that the marketplace hears the
positive message about the value equation for solar.
The recent proliferation of creative solar fnancing
strategies provides the tools to address the price/
Value barrier. While many of these initiatives are
relatively new, they refect the need to give con-
sumers more fnancing options and reduce the
out-of-pocket cost of solar installations to a man-
ageable monthly expense that is more comparable
to their electric bill.
as one example, the City of Berkeley, California
created a pilot city tax program that allowed home
owners to apply solar installation costs to their
property taxes. it was sold out within nine min-
utes, demonstrating the consumer demand for af-
fordable payment approaches. in addition, low
interest loans, 3rd party leasing and innovative
programs like smud’s SolarShare are making solar
available to new customer groups. However, while
many programs are providing innovative fnancing
schemes, they are not always as innovative or ag-
gressive at promoting the offerings to consumers.
in fact, smartpower research in oregon and arizona
found that most solar customers today already
held a long-standing interest in solar with the in-
centive program functioning as more of an en-
abler than a true incentive and promotion that
brings new customers to the program.
therefore, it is important to realize that these
new solar fnancing mechanisms are tools that can
tell new customers that solar is affordable. to that
end, states should prominently feature this mes-
sage of affordability on their solar program web-
sites. Because the affordability of solar is so central
to expanding solar adoption, the value message
about how to afford solar should be the most
prominent message delivered.
An example of how to use these new fnancing
offerings to create a strong value message can be
found on smud’s website. smud promotes its
solarsmart homes program with a value-oriented,
investment-focused message:
Make a SolarSmart choice today and
enjoy a new home that is more affordable,
comfortable, and environmentally friendly.
Buy a SolarSmart Home
SM
and reduce your annual
electric bill by as much as 60 percent. SolarSmart
Homes combine the most cost effective energy ef-
fcient features and roof top solar electric genera-
tion in a package that makes homeowners money
every month.
SolarSmart Homes are a wise investment
that make doing the right thing easy.
http://www.smud.org/en/residential/solars-
mart/pages/index.aspx
Highlighting the specifc monthly cost of a solar
lease or loan has a much stronger effect than
simply promoting “low interest loans.” recent
focus groups conducted by smartpower with home
energy audit customers confrmed this. Customers
knew about the availability of 0% interest loans,
and yet when a $15,000 / 7 year loan was pre-
sented to customers as $125/month payments, the
program had substantially more appeal. as one
customer reported, “i knew about the loan offer,
but the actual dollar amount makes me take a
second look.”
a similar effective “value” message is being deliv-
ered by solarCity, a California-based installer that is
offering solar leases to residential customers with a
very strong affordability promotion on their website:
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SolarLease Example for Typical 3-
Bedroom Home
For a home with a monthly electricity bill of
$200, we would recommend installing a 16
panel solar system.
This system will generate enough electricity
to offset what you are currently paying to
the utility company from $200 down to
$75 per month. Your monthly SolarLease
payment would be $100, so you could ac-
tually save $25 per month from day one.
http://www.solarcity.com/residential/solar-
lease.aspx
For a homeowner looking to reduce utility bills,
this solarCity solar leasing approach offers imme-
diate fnancial relief and guarantees, maintenance
and other program offerings that create a great
value for the consumer. the environmental bene-
fts are important, but savings are of greater value
to the homeowner.
Currently, most solar customers learn about incen-
tives from their installer, suggesting that they al-
ready had an interest in solar before they knew
what incentives were available. promoting the val-
ue story through new messages, outreach activi-
ties, and forums will expand the solar marketplace
by reaching new customers and creating broader
interest in solar power. incentive programs may
want to consider using advertising opportunities
such as national public radio, cable television,
and the internet to promote these affordable
options to the public.
the affordability of solar is not just an issue for
residential and commercial customers. institutional
customers, such as state, municipal and county
buildings, are also an important source of future
solar customers. realizing this, the massachusetts’
Commonwealth solar program created solar work-
shops specifcally targeted to municipal leaders to
educate them on power purchase agreements to
expand solar on public buildings. every Board of
selectman, superintendent of schools and mayor
was invited to attend a workshop to learn about
solar energy’s value proposition. the workshops
were sold out with over 100 people attending in
Boston and 130 people in central massachusetts,
well above expectations. today, municipal leaders
are actively seeking strategies to reduce energy
costs and environmental impact. solar has more
interest for cities and towns than ever before and
high attendance at these workshops is proof of
that demand.
In sum, creating and promoting innovative f-
nancing mechanisms for customers to install solar
are critical to expanding the market. Just as with
fnancing the purchase of a home, an automobile,
or a college education, fnancing options for solar
purchases are necessary to overcome high up-
front costs. paying cash for a new car is not possible
for most consumers, and neither is paying out-of-
pocket for a new solar energy system.
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Ceg’s survey found that in the most successful solar
markets, states have established specifc solar pro-
gram elements that seek to eliminate local barriers
to system installation and to build local markets.
Based on the real-time experience of the leading
state solar programs, this report explores these ba
Marketing Plan Action Step #1:

IMPROVE THE VALUE EQUATION
1. identifytherangeoffinancialoptionscurrentlyavailabletocustomers
withinyourmarket.
- Are lease arrangements, PPA’s and other monthly financing strategies available?
- What new approaches, if any, should you offer?
2. Evaluatehowyoucurrentlypromotefinancialoptionstoprospective
customers.
- Are you reaching a broad audience with these options and bringing new
customer groups to solar?
- Can you leverage the resources of strategic partners (such as lending
organizations) to create broader awareness?
3. Developanoutreachplan.
- Prominently promote the affordability message in collateral material, public
relations and advertising that go beyond the website.
4. Createastrong“affordability”message.
- Use the website to show monthly payment options for solar technology
purchases or leases.
5. Workwithinstallers.
- Ensure that they are promoting the financing options that are available to
their potential customers.

6. Focuson“howtopayforsolar.”
- Ensure that workshops and other solar seminars highlight financing as a key
component, remembering that this is the biggest barrier to broader adoption.
7. hostspecialsolarfinancingevents/workshops.
- Identify target groups such as business associations, municipal and institutional
customers, and developers.
8. Educatehomeownersandcommercialcustomers.
- Work with local utilities to promote the value of combining solar with energy
efficiency for optimum financial effectiveness.
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Concern about the reliability of solar is a barrier to
market growth; consumers believe they will be
“buying” into a simpler lifestyle with solar that they
are not ready for. solar energy systems are not
often visible in our every day lives, in our neigh-
borhoods or on our public buildings. We rarely see
solar installations as we travel or on tV. the
invisibility of solar technologies contributes to a
sense that solar energy is not up to the task of
powering our modern world.
this was confirmed by smartpower’s qualitative
research when consumers were asked to draw
pictures of their vision of a solar world. the
images that emerged from this assignment were
best represented by one solar customer who drew
a simple cottage in the country and entitled it,
“Quiet simplicity.”
reliability questions also abound, sometimes even
among those who have installed a solar product.
Questions about billing issues, confusing terms
such as net metering, “what happens on a rainy
day or in a snow storm?” and even how much
power solar customers will save, demonstrate the
concerns about reliability and also contribute to a
belief that solar power is not a realistic consumer
purchase.
However, solar programs can begin to address
the issue of reliability by ensuring that solar is as
visible as possible in their markets and is presented
as a powerful source of energy, one that will help
fuel and build a stronger economy.
MArkETi nG STrATEGy #2
rEi nForCi nGThE rEli Abi li Ty oF SolArTEChnoloGy
For most people, solar technology remains an
abstract concept or a niche product rather than a
mainstream energy source. as a result, most
people do not think of solar power as a reliable
source of energy for their home. this perception
is often reinforced by misleading stories such as
those appearing out of troy, michigan, where, in
the winter of 2009, a model solar home, built at
the cost of $900,000, sat empty due to storm
damage. the headline “Celebrated solar House
left in the dark” contributes to the concern
about solar as not up to the task of meeting the
energy demands of homeowners. the house was
not “in the dark” due to the solar system’s lack of
performance but due to a heater malfunctioning
that caused pipes to burst.
Consumer marketers must counter these
perceptions with strategies to bolster solar’s
attribute of reliability. there are many examples
from the annals of consumer marketing that
illustrate effective strategies for establishing a
product’s quality. For example, when nike™
wanted to demonstrate the high performance
of its basketball shoes, it partnered with michael
Jordan. and a timex™ watch was dropped from
a high rooftop and it kept on ticking.
Consumer marketers have used a number of
effective tactics to address consumer concerns
and reinforce the strength and reliability of their
products, services, or goods, such as:
• “sampling” the product so that prospective
customers are exposed to its quality and
benefits.
Barrier #2: The reliability of solar is a concern; consumers believe that they are
“buying” into a simpler lifestyle that they are not ready for.
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• Celebrity endorsement – “If a celebrity uses
the product, it must be good.”
• Testimonials by customers – “It worked for
me, it will work for you.”
• awareness building, using high traffic locations
and advertising – “If I see it, I’m thinking about it.”

in addition, educational seminars, press conferences,
and informational materials are all part of build-
ing the reliability story. many states are employing
“quality” messages to support their solar programs.
While these strategies may not have been de-
ployed specifcally to address the reliability issue,
they nevertheless do build a strong case about the
ability of solar to power our world.
California’s solar program administrators be-
lieve that much of their success is due to the
strong political backing and high visibility of
their governor in supporting solar. When
governor arnold schwarzenegger launched
his million solar roofs campaign in 2004, he
essentially became the state’s celebrity
endorser for solar power.
arizona public service has found its celebrity
partner in steve nash of the phoenix suns.
nash is the most popular and likeable sports
star in arizona, and his reputation is unassail-
able. aps uses nash in radio advertising and
on their website, and extended their partner-
ship by installing solar on the phoenix suns’
stadium. inside the arena, solar signage com-
pletes this campaign tie-in. http://www.aps.
com/main/news/releases/release_443.html
installing solar in high visibility locations, such
as airports, governor’s mansions and sports
stadiums, are excellent ways to address the re-
liability issue. these installations increase solar



visibility to the public by not only creating a
public relations opportunity, but on-going vis-
ibility to a wide range of constituencies that
are not typically introduced to solar, such as
sports fans and business travelers. For exam-
ple, denver, Co installed a large solar array of
9,800 panels, covering seven acres, at the den-
ver airport that was visible to delegates com-
ing to the democratic national Convention in
the summer of 2008. http://cbs4denver.com/lo-
cal/denver.convention.delegates.2.798582.html
installing solar in highly visible locations and
using the attendant public relations opportu-
nities helps build support for solar power. For
example, aps teamed up with Habitat for
Humanity and with a local radio show whose
weekly feature focused on home improve-
ments. the sponsorship allowed aps to high-
light the benefts of installing a solar water
heater while also promoting its charitable
role. http://www.aps.com/my_community/sto-
ryarchive/storyarchive_51.html
an effective way to educate consumers about
solar products is by using media to promote its
benefts. For example, California’s New Solar
Homes partnership (nsHp) combined a number
of promotional elements to help educate con-
sumers about the value of solar while capturing
names of prospects. in 2008, nsHp teamed up
with Clear Channel radio to increase awareness
of solar during solar energy awareness month
in June. Clear Channel created a 30 second ra-
dio spot that directed consumers to a website
where they could watch a short video, answer
questions, and have a chance to win a hybrid
vehicle. the solar quiz and sweepstakes were
part of kiosks displayed at state fairs and other
high traffc venues across California. http://


Barrier #2: The reliability of solar is a concern; consumers believe that they are
“buying” into a simpler lifestyle that they are not ready for.
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www.gosolarcalifornia.org/builders/market-
ing_resources/index.html
the nsHp also addresses reliability through its
theme line, “solar is Working, solar is smart,
solar is now.” this delivers a strong solar mes-
sage to both developers and consumers that
solar is a smart choice. over 17,000 people par-
ticipated in the 2008 contest and it has been
repeated in 2009 with “Win a green Home
makeover” contest where consumers are in-
structed to watch a video, take a quiz about
the reliability and features of solar, and are en-
tered into the sweepstakes. the promotion not
only educates customers about the value of
solar and the way in which it reduces energy
costs, but also, by gathering entries, nsHp cre-
ates a database of prospects that can be used
to drive visits to new solar homes and solar
events. http://www.gosolarsweepstakes.com
“sampling” is a tried and true way that allows
customers to try a new product. the Connecti-
cut Clean energy Fund (CCeF) has found a way
to allow people to ‘sample’ solar through its
educational display at the Connecticut science
Center. By sharing expenses, the state’s energy
effciency fund and CCEF have contributed $1
million towards “energy smart” in which solar
panels are part of an exhibition that focuses
on effciency and renewables. The Science
Center works in conjunction with the Hartford
public school system and has brought more
than 13,000 students to see the exhibit. the
high visibility display combined with curricu-
lum support for school children create a strong
face for solar. http://ctsciencecenter.org/exhib-
its/energy-city/default.aspx

the 2008 City tour for solar, sponsored by
sunedison and three solar manufacturers, has
created an interactive educational exhibit con-
tained in two bio-diesel trucks, which traveled
to 50 cities in the western part of the united
states, including Washington, oregon, Califor-
nia, arizona, nevada, new mexico, texas, min-
nesota, and Colorado. the tour staged exhibits
at both the 2008 democratic national Conven-
tion and the republican national Convention
to increase support among candidates and leg-
islators for solar incentives and federal tax
credits. it provided a way for political and
business leaders to sample the power of solar
in well-organized events. http://www.smart-
growthadvocates.org/user/sunedisonpueblo.pdf
the most well known of the solar “sampling”
programs is the american solar energy society’s
National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar
event in the country. now in its 13th year, the
Tour, which kicks off on the frst Saturday in
October – National Energy Awareness Month –
attracts 150,000 people across 48 states, visit-
ing 5,000 solar homes. the tour gives custom-
ers the opportunity to see solar in action, talk
to home owners, and because of the sheer size
of the tour, recognize that solar has gone
mainstream. it also creates great opportunities
for state solar programs to support the tour.
http://www.ases.org/index.php?option=com_con
tent&view=article&id=549&itemid=94
the pg&e solar schools program in California
includes installation of photovoltaic systems in
public schools, a solar-based curriculum-train-
ing package, workshops for teachers, and
“Bright ideas” grants. since its inception in



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2004, pg&e’s solar schools program has in-
stalled solar on more than 125 schools, trained
more than 3,000 teachers, and benefted al-
most 200,000 students. http://www.pge.com/
solarschools/
an increasingly important customer segment
in advancing solar sales is the real estate in-
dustry. education is the key. realtors are criti-
cal to the success of selling solar in new home
purchases. a realtor who cannot effectively
talk about the value of solar on a home may
re-direct a prospective buyer to a less expen-
sive home, focusing solely on purchase price,
rather than factoring in energy costs. many
state solar programs, including those in Cali-
fornia and oregon, are now working with
realty organizations to provide solar informa-
tion seminars that help realtors speak more
comfortably about the quality and value of
solar power. http://www.solaroregon.org/real-
tors_appraisers and http://www.energy.ca.gov/
2009publications/CeC-180-2009-006/CeC-180-
2009-006.pdF

solar electric power association (sepa), recog-
nizing the growing importance of utility com-
panies in solar growth, hosted executives from
23 u.s.-based energy organizations to attend a
fact-fnding trip to Germany in 2008. Execu-
tives had the opportunity to speak with their
european counterparts regarding utility-fo-
cused concerns, including solar grid reliability.
this was an excellent hands-on educational
opportunity for u.s. utility executives, who
came away with a much stronger appreciation
for solar power and the role it plays as an im-
portant energy source. in 2009, sepa hosted a
similar trip to spain and has now instituted a
utility peer match program that allows utilities
to be matched with similar utilities to share
best practices. state clean energy programs
can host similar educational “fact fnding”
trips within their states for key solar stake-
holders. http://www.solarelectricpower.org/
peer/index.php

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Marketing Plan Action Step #2:

REINFORCE THE RELIABILITY OF SOLAR
1. Evaluatecustomerconcernsaboutsolarreliabilityinyourmarket.
2. Findopportunitiestoincreasevisibilityofsolarinstallationsinhigh
trafficlocations.

3. identifystrategicpartnershipswithsportsteams,localcelebrities
andmediatocreatepositivesolarimagesandincreasepresenceof
solarinstallationsinthepubliceyeandinthemarketplace.
4. offereducationalseminarsforspecifictargetedsegments(chambers
ofcommerce,solarseminarsforhomeowners,workshopsfor
municipalities)tobuildconfidenceinsolartechnologies.
5. Createcampaignsbuiltaroundpositivetestimonialsfromcorporations,
businesses,andinstitutionswhohaveinstalledsolarpower.
6. Participateinorincreaseawarenessofannualsolarhometoursto
broadenattendance.CreatespecialviPtoursfortargetgroups.
7. Createaspeakers’bureauofhomeownersandbusinessleaders
whowillspeakabouttheeffectivenessofsolarpowertomeet
theirenergyandfinancialneeds.
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the decision-making process for installing solar can
be more lengthy and complex than expected, and
consumers often feel overwhelmed by the process.
solar technology is not viewed as a product that is
easy for consumers to purchase and install. there
aren’t currently any iconic brands for solar prod-
ucts, leaving consumers to rely on installers for
much of the information that they receive. this is
much like asking a customer to buy an unknown
brand of automobile, while relying on the car
dealer as the sole source of information about
the product’s performance, reliability and price.
smartpower research participants reported that
they often encountered diffculty getting estimates
from solar installers as part of their decision-mak-
ing process. if they were not ready to install a sys-
tem, then installers were not ready to invest in a
site visit to their home, creating a Catch-22 situa-
tion. Without an estimate, the customer can not
proceed with decision-making and becomes in-
creasingly frustrated.
research also indicates that solar customers are
much more comfortable with technology than
“Inerts” – those simply thinking about solar. As
early adopters, existing solar customers are more
at ease researching manufacturer and installer
options than those who are more conservative
about new technology.
the solar purchase process is often complex and
more time consuming than most people expect.
smartpower’s research in both arizona and
oregon found that, for most people who had
installed solar pV, the decision-making process
Oregon, 223 respondents
MArkETi nG STrATEGy #3
rEDuCi nGThE CoMPlExi Ty oF SolAr
Customer
inert
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took more than one year, often more than two
years. this lengthy decision-making process provided
the answer to oregon’s question regarding why
those attending solar seminars had not yet installed
a system. smartpower’s survey showed that in many
cases these customers simply had not installed yet.
inerts reported how complex the process is. they
often felt lost in the process of researching all the
options available. their lack of confidence with
technology contributed to a feeling of being over-
whelmed at times. as one focus group panelist said
about installing solar, “it feels like a full time job.”
Oregon, 63 respondents
However, solar programs have the opportunity to
take on the important role of trusted advisor and
to guide prospective customers through the long
process of installation. there are many ways that
state programs can help make the solar installa-
tion process less onerous for consumers. examples
from programs across the country include:
From focus groups, energy trust of oregon
heard that customers were frustrated by the
diffculty of getting installers to make a site
visit in order to provide an estimate of the cost
of installation. eto responded by offering
those who attend solar seminars and signed
up on the spot, a free on-site estimate. this
program, which was launched as a pilot, was
extremely well received by participants. eto
utilized home energy auditors from the state
Energy Effciency Department to provide the
estimates. these energy professionals offered
the added beneft of serving as a trusted advi-
sor – someone who offered advice to custom-
ers without any “sell.” Consumers reported
that they then felt more comfortable moving
forward with their solar installation. http://
www.energytrust.org/forms/sle_Fs_ressolar-
now.pdf

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madison, Wisconsin, a solar america Cities
designee, created an energy advocate pro-
gram that allows interested solar prospects ac-
cess to an unbiased, credible source of infor-
mation to help them navigate the complexity
of energy solutions customized for their home.
the energy advocate performs a high quality
home energy audit, in conjunction with a solar
estimate, that helps reduce the decision-mak-
ing time and gives the homeowner more con-
fdence about moving forward. http://www.
solaramericacities.energy.gov/Cities.
aspx?City=madison
Berkeley, California is using its solar america
Cities designation to create smartsolar, a pro-
gram to provide technical assistance and an
online mapping tool (Berkeley solar map) to


assess solar potential for any roof in the city.
this resource helps identify the best solar en-
ergy options and provides information on
project planning, permitting and fnancing op-
tions. http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Contentdis-
play.aspx?id=38064
oregon’s solar ambassador program matches
existing solar customers, who have gone
through the process of installation, with pros-
pects who are thinking about solar. pairing ex-
perienced solar advocates with those going
through the process provides the uninitiated
with free advice and counsel and gives new
customers the confdence to move forward
with their decision to install. http://www.so-
laroregon.org/get-involved/solar-ambassadors-
program

Marketing Plan Action Step #3:

REDUCE THE COMPLEXITY
1. Workwithinstallerstoreducetimedelaysintheprocessofproviding
estimatestosolarprospects.
2. Evaluateopportunitiestocreateasolarambassadorprogramthat
connectsexistingsolarcustomerswithprospectivecustomersto
provideinformationduringthecomplexdecision-makingprocess.
3. Considerofferingfreeestimatesand/oranenergyadvisorprogram
toguideprospectsthroughthesolarincentiveapplicationprocess.
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a complex product like solar technology, with a
two-year decision-making cycle that requires re-
search, financing, permitting, and lengthy appli-
cation forms, will inevitably lead to consumer
inertia and fall out. all marketers compete not
only with other products within the same category,
but also with competition for free time. With
today’s fast-paced, overbooked lifestyle, consumers
often are hard-pressed to find the time to make
solar product choices, which can compete with
time spent at work, with family, or at play. it often
is easier to do nothing and place decisions on the
perpetual “back burner.” therefore, state solar
incentive programs should encourage prospective
customers to continue to move forward and reduce
the lengthy decision-making process.
While solar incentive programs are not specifically
selling solar, they are a significant part of the sales
process. employing the retail mindset will help
solar programs address what all retailers compete
with – share of mind and share of action.
the over-burdened consumer is the retailer’s enemy.
therefore, marketers use promotional techniques
to motivate consumers to 1) learn about a product,
2) sample a product, 3) make a visit to a store, and
4) make a purchase. techniques such as the “Buy
one, get one Free” coupon are simply a device to
motivate a store visit. the “no interest for one year”
promotion is designed to promote value and en-
courage a purchase noW. even surveys on the
internet are crafted to deliver users to websites.
state clean energy programs and solar marketers
should use a variety of similar innovative sales pro-
motions to encourage consumers to overcome this
inertia and move towards a solar “sale.”
it is important to realize that state solar programs
have an important role in the retail process and,
as such, must deal with consumer inertia. one of
the most significant strategies to prompt action is
the use of a declining incentive program. each
year the solar incentive program provides fewer
dollars to the customers to reflect a corresponding
drop in the costs of installation. in doing so, the
program encourages early installations to maxi-
mize the incentive’s contribution to total costs.
examples of other “retail” approaches being
used by states today include the following:
energy trust of oregon (eto) addressed cus-
tomer inertia through an aggressive market-
ing communications approach. Focus groups
revealed that many solar seminar attendees
felt that, as one participant claimed, “attend-
ing a workshop is not doing nothing.” the
social pressure to engage in the solar process
was satisfed by just researching and attend-
ing seminars, not necessarily installing solar.
to encourage forward momentum, there-
fore, eto changed its communications strat-
egy. now, immediately following participa-
tion in a seminar, attendees receive a letter,
signed by the governor, with the directive,
“time to take the next step.” this “retail”
approach, with a strong call to action, is an
excellent example of how to integrate con-
sumer insights into an effective strategic di-
rection designed to build incremental solar
sales.
Free Solar on New Home. in marketing, noth-
ing is more important than “Free” and no
position is better than “frst to market.”


MArkETi nG STrATEGy #4
ovErCoMi nG CuSToMEr i nErTi A
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shea Homes, national developer of new homes,
utilized its higher-end trilogy green Homes to be
the frst builder to roll out a national solar offer-
ing. trilogy Homes offered a free 3 kW solar sys-
tem on homes sold in arizona, California, Florida
and Washington during the month of august,
2008. shea received great publicity for creating
the offer, which allowed them to showcase the
features of their high-end homes. the short-term
promotion was designed to drive traffc. Follow-
ing the promotional period, solar is offered on
trilogy Homes as an upgrade feature.
the energy advisor and solar ambassador pro-
grams (referred to in the previous section) also
are excellent strategies for overcoming inertia.
these programs connect trusted advisors with
solar prospects and serve to give consumers the
confdence to move forward in their decision-
making and shorten the installation process.

Marketing Plan Action Step #4:

HELP CUSTOMERS OVERCOME INERTIA
1. Createadatabaseofinterestedsolarprospectsanddevelopa
communicationsstrategythatcontinuestoengagetheseprospective
customersduringthelongdecision-makingprocess.
2. usepromotionalincentivesandprospectmailingstoencourage
forwardprogressandsales.
3. raisethelevelofvisibilityofsolarinthemarketplacetokeep
solarinmind.
4. Considerimplementingadecliningincentiveprogramthat
encouragescustomerstoactnow.
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Solar programs that address the frst four barriers:
Cost, Reliability, Complexity, and Inertia with
customer-focused initiatives will fnd that they are
building a stronger demand for solar across their
market. However, programs also must try to change
long-held perceptions about solar power. Consumers
need a fresh and powerful message that will put
solar on their radar screens and bring new customers
to the technology. this requires rethinking how
solar programs talk about and promote solar power.
smartpower’s research has found that the environ-
mental message does not always resonate with
prospective solar customers.
many people who install solar on their homes and
businesses are motivated by the environmental
benefits that solar offers, but it may not be the
only or primary benefit for most customers. it cer-
tainly may not be the most compelling message
to which prospective customers respond. in develop-
ing a branding campaign for clean energy in 2003,
smartpower showed focus groups across the country
over 25 images that ranged from strong environ-
mental images to the american flag, to images of
solar and wind power installations. not one of the
focus group members responded to the environ-
mental images as what they associated with their
vision of a solar world.
smartpower research in 2007 and 2008 found that
in markets such as arizona, where a large surge in
population growth had created an unprecedented
need for energy, the primary motivation for interest
in solar was financial stability over time. these
customers understood that the price of energy
was likely to increase in the future and believed
solar power could be part of the solution to
manage increasing costs.
at the same time, in markets where there is a
strong environmental movement, like oregon,
there is a predisposition to consider solar for
environmental reasons. that is, motivations may
differ in different regions of the country, and
every market must determine for itself what
factors influence its customers.
Solar Marketing Research Findings.
smartpower’s solar marketing research over the
past seven years in markets across the country has
generally found that the environmental message
is not the most compelling to the broad public.
the public understands that renewable energy is
good for the environment, and to date, that
knowledge alone has not led to a market surge.
MArkETi nG STrATEGy #5
Fi nDi nGThE ri GhT MESSAGE
Finding the right message is an important com-
ponent of success in marketing solar energy.
smartpower tested five positioning statements
with over 75 focus group participants in oregon
and arizona to determine the most compelling
solar message, and asked each participant to select
the one that they found most motivating.
the selections included:
a. solar makes energy sense.
b. solar is a good investment.
c. solar is good for the Health of Future
generations.
d. solar is good for the environment.
e. solar Creates energy independence.
none of the participants from the focus groups
selected “good for the environment.” the
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environmental benefits of solar are known to these
consumers but are not as motivating as other
reasons to purchase. By a significant margin, respon-
dents preferred “solar makes sense,” followed by
“solar is a good investment.”
the key elements of these positioning statements
that consumers highlighted as important are:
a. solar technology helps stabilize energy
costs over time.
b. solar helps lower monthly utility bills.
c. solar technology has come a long way in
20 years.
d. solar energy is non-polluting and
renewable; we should tap into the
power of the sun.
e. incentives and rebates can reduce the
cost of installing solar by half.
participants were particularly critical of any phrases
that they judged “preachy” and expressed wari-
ness at sentences that sounded political in nature.
For example, references to global warming were
negatively construed as “sounding like al gore
and An Inconvenient Truth.“ in contrast, those
words and phrases that reinforced the economic
aspects of installing solar were well received.
some solar customers viewed installation of solar
much like investing in a Certificate of deposit
where it increased in value over time.
Marketing Implications of the Research.
the solar program’s website is a key source of
information for solar prospects. solar customers
are usually web savvy and do their research on the
internet. therefore, solar programs should eval-
uate their websites from the perspective of the
new prospect who is investigating solar power for
the first time to ensure the site offers consumer
friendly information while communicating the
strong value message that “solar makes sense.”
there are a number of solar program websites that
offer good branding, useful features and easy access
to information. However, most websites can do a
stronger job of communicating the economic
value of solar. Here are a few noteworthy solar
websites:
the “go solar California” site encourages
consumers to purchase solar, starting with

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its website’s url. the site is friendly and
easy to navigate for all users. the easy FaQ
section makes fnding information about
solar easy. see www.gosolarcalifornia.org/
csi/faqs.html.
energy trust of oregon took the important
step of creating one centralized go-to web-
site by partnering with the City of portland
and a local ngo. all three organizations
support “solar now oregon.” the website
embodies the “solar makes sense” messages
and highlights free solar seminars. www.
solarnoworegon.org.

nyserda’s website offers a tool that helps
consumers to locate loan and installer re-
sources. Consumers merely click on their
county and all the banks and installers in
that territory are listed regionally. http://
www.nyserda.org/loanFundlenders/nyser-
da/pickbanke4.asp.
a state solar program website is an essential mar-
keting tool to help guide prospective customers
through the solar purchasing process. thinking like
a retailer will help solar programs to assess whether
their website is user friendly, a helpful tool, and
effectively supporting the value equation of solar.

Marketing Plan Action Step #5

FIND THE RIGHT MESSAGE
1. identifythe“right”messageforthemarketplaceandensurethat
itisclear,consistentandaddressingthevaluestrategy.
2. Performacommunicationsauditonsolarmarketingmaterialsto
assesstheeffectivenessandconsistencyofthemessage.
3. identifywhatadditionalmaterialsandoutreachstrategiesare
requiredtocommunicatethesolarvaluestory.
4. reviewthesolarprogram’swebsiteforitsconsumer-friendly
focusandmessage.
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it is critical to broaden the customer base and
open new markets for solar power. each state and
solar program has a prospective customer base
that has not yet reached its potential to become
new solar customers.
identifying creative ways to reach these new cus-
tomers is not just the job of solar installers and sup-
pliers. state clean energy programs also are an im-
portant part of this outreach effort. leveraging
marketing resources at these target segments will
yield results.
many solar programs across the country are
providing just such outreach. examples include:
san Francisco created “the mayor’s solar
Founder’s Circle” with a goal of encouraging
solar on top of the city’s largest buildings. the
program targeted installations on 1,500 roof
tops in the city and offered fnancial incentives
for those companies who install solar. mailings
from the city along with site visits and techni-
cal assistance also are part of this program.
energy trust of oregon reached out to compa-
nies who have already installed solar to enlist
their employees as new solar customers. a cor-
porate challenge provides on-site seminars for
employees and encourages the companies to
offer additional incentives.


the Connecticut Clean energy Fund and trF’s
sustainable development Fund in pennsylva-
nia have implemented a Clean Communities
program that promotes clean energy purchas-
es (green choice offerings) by a municipality
and its residents and offers a 1 kW solar panel
as an incentive. smartpower managed this
program for both organizations and utilized
friendly competitions between municipalities
to encourage sign-ups. the winning munici-
palities install their solar panels in prominent
municipal locations, and generate support, vis-
ibility and great public relations for solar power.
over 80 communities across Connecticut and
20 communities in eastern pennsylvania have
met this challenge and earned the designation
of Clean energy Community.
• one important target customer group for
growing solar markets is solar installers. arizona
public service determined that additional in-
stallers would be needed to keep up with the
growing demand being generated in the
Phoenix area. APS developed a specifc mes-
sage to target installers by creating “solar
makes sense for installers” and collateral
material that was distributed at the aps’
booth at a national solar conference.

MArkETi nG STrATEGy #6
rEAChi nG nEW CuSToMEr MArkETS
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marketing is a problem-solving activity. identifying
and understanding what problems require solving
is the first and most important step in constructing
an effective marketing plan. thinking like a retailer
is the key because it will ensure that programs and
initiatives, as well as communications and promo-
tions, are designed to create a call to action and
move customers towards the sales process.
a marketing plan is a living, breathing document
that guides activities over a period of usually no
more than one to two years and is focused on
achieving quantifiable and measurable goals, such
as megawatts of installed solar. activities within the
plan must address core customer segments that are
important to the solar program, such as low-income
housing, schools and institutions, large commercial
customers, and installers. the process of developing
an effective plan includes the following steps.
Step One: Market Analysis
Begin by assessing past successes and failures.
identify what has worked and what has not. Which
customer bases are responding and which are under-
delivering? are there geographic issues to be
addressed within your plan?
Step Two: Customer Research
if there are questions about the motivations and
attitudes that core customer groups have about
solar power, a customer research project and mar-
ket analysis will identify the opportunities and
barriers that must be addressed in the marketing
plan. solar programs may want to rely on an
outside resource such as an advertising agency
or marketing consulting group to help with this
aspect of the plan.
Step Three: Establish Marketing Objectives
What will the marketing plan accomplish? What
are the goals? a marketing objective might include
a percentage increase or megawatt goal for specific
customer segments, such as commercial and indus-
trial, residential, or institutional solar installations.
Step Four: Marketing Strategies
How will the solar program reach its objectives?
this report suggests that Cost, Reliability, Complexity,
Inertia and Message all must be addressed in an
effective marketing plan. there may be other
strategies relevant to your specific market that
should be included or receive priority. a marketing
strategy that addresses value, for example, might
include offering financial tools that reduce the high
out-of-pocket costs for solar installations. a market-
ing strategy to address reliability may include raising
visibility of solar in the marketplace.
Step Five: Tactics/Implementation
tactics are the specific programs and initiatives
that address the marketing strategy. the examples
cited in this report from solar stakeholders across
the country are examples of marketing tactics.
the rest of the marketing plan includes a budget
and timeline, as well as an approach to evaluate
the success of specific tactics. there may be other
resource needs required by the solar program. all
key stakeholders across the organization should
review the marketing plan while in development
to ensure that it is addressing the right issues and
to ensure buy-in. it is also critical that implemen-
tation challenges be coordinated with appropriate
personnel to ensure that adequate resources and
timeframes are accounted for.
Developing a Marketing Plan - How to Begin
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effective marketing guides how, when, and where
product information is presented to consumers,
with the ultimate goal of persuading consumers to
purchase solar energy systems. therefore, state solar
program managers must view themselves as a criti-
cal part of the solar sales process. understanding
what problems need solving and how best to ad-
dress them is at the heart of the solar marketing
plan. messages that connect on a fnancial or
value level are most likely to succeed.

there are examples of effective solar marketing
activities all over the country to draw upon. an
important source of new programs and initia-
tives comes from the department of energy’s
solar america Cities program where 25 cities
have become incubators for new solar marketing
ideas. through grants from the doe, these cit-
ies are engaged in active partnerships with solar
companies; municipal, county and state agencies;
utilities; ngo’s and universities to identify and
remove market barriers and encourage solar sales
to residential and commercial customers. their
approaches may be a useful source of problem-
solving initiatives for cities and states looking at
their own solar marketing challenges. www.solara-
mericacities.energy.gov/
as solar programs begin to think like marketers,
they can assess “how they’re doing” by asking a
series of questions to determine whether solar
marketing efforts are on the right track, including:
Smart Solar Marketing Strategies
ConCluSi on
How are new customers learning about solar?
should we do more to help? Where are our
best opportunities?
are we providing consumers with value-
oriented financial offerings that make solar
more affordable?
are consumers aware of the new financial
approaches that we offer? are we adequately
promoting the value and affordability of solar?
is it prominently displayed on our website?
are we targeting the right audiences in our
market to achieve our objectives? Have we
left any core audiences untouched?
do we understand the consumer barriers to
purchasing solar that are specific to our mar-
ket? should we initiate research to advance
our understanding and the effectiveness of
our activities?
Have we done an inventory of communica-
tions materials to ensure that we are speaking
with one voice, promoting one brand, and
hitting the right messages?
are there ngo’s and other stakeholders in our
market that we should be aligning with to ad-
vance our goals and leverage our investment?
How do we overcome inertia and help push
interested customers to act?
How do we create more visibility for solar in
our market? are there high visibility locations,









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personalities or opportunities that will in-
crease penetration?
do we have a sufficient group of installers in
place? Will we need more? How can we
attract them?
do realtors understand the value of solar and
know how to speak about it effectively?
is there a role for traditional and new media
in our marketing mix to build awareness?
are there innovative ways to utilize earned
media beyond press releases and ribbon cut-
tings to increase interest in solar?
are there other solar partners (utilities, trades,
chambers, cities and towns, sports venues, etc)
that we should be working with to increase
interest in solar power?





are we cross promoting energy efficiency and
solar energy to maximize interest in both?
are we creating a database of consumers and
are we using that database effectively?
as states increasingly compete with each other for
green jobs and clean economies, being savvy solar
marketers becomes more important than ever.
By asking these questions, and by creating a plan
that provides a comprehensive approach to solar
marketing, solar programs will maximize their
investment in solar incentives, and expand the
customer base for solar energy throughout their
markets.


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AbouTThEAuThorS
Lyn Rosoff, SmartPower
Principal Author
lyn rosoff is deputy director for smartpower and has served as director of marketing
for the past two years, leading smartpower’s consumer research efforts. lyn has over 25
years of marketing and advertising experience including 18 years at arnold Worldwide.
For 12 years lyn was president of second Wind enterprises, a marketing consultancy
practice focusing on nonprofit organizations. Clients included: smartpower, the John
merck Fund, Catch neighborhood Housing, the pew Charitable trusts, united Way of
mass Bay, star island Corporation and World team sports.
lyn currently serves as Vice president of the Board of directors of the united Way of
the greater seacoast and is past Chair of the Board of the greater Boston Food Bank.
Mark Sinclair, Clean Energy Group
Contributing Author and Editor
mark sinclair is Vice president of the Clean energy group and has been working on
energy and environmental issues in the public interest for two decades. Clean energy
group (Ceg) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the use of clean energy
technologies in the u.s. and abroad through creative financing, business partnerships,
public policy and advocacy. mark also is executive director of the Clean energy states
alliance (Cesa), a multi-state coalition of state-based renewable energy programs
working together to advance clean energy markets. prior to Ceg, mark was senior
attorney and vice president with the Conservation law Foundation of new england.
He also has served as general counsel to the state of Vermont’s environmental agency.
mark serves on the Board of the Vermont public interest research group, the
investment Committee of the Vermont Clean energy development Fund, the Board
of the national Wind Coordinating Collaborative, and the Board of the u.s. offshore
Wind Collaborative. He also serves on the Waitsfield development review Board.
SmartPower is a national, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes clean,
renewable energy and energy efficiency. SmartPower’s award-winning marketing
campaigns have created unprecedented demand for wind, solar and hydropower.
In 2001, a group of forward-thinking, private foundations and the Connecticut
Clean Energy Fund founded SmartPower. These groups believed that renewable
energy needed the same consumer marketing techniques that traditional consumer
brands use. SmartPower has recently expanded its focus to include energy
efficiency and conservation. In addition to helping consumers choose clean
renewable energy sources, SmartPower wants to educate consumers about ways
they can conserve energy in their day-to-day lives.
SmartPower’s goal is for the nation to produce more clean energy while using less
energy. SmartPower works on three key fronts to advance this mission.
Research
SmartPower conducts research to identify why consumers do not make choices
towards a clean energy and an energy efficient lifestyle. This research is especially
important when 80% of consumers say they believe renewable energy is better
than energy produced from fossil fuels and they are willing to spend more to have
it, but less than 3% actually purchase clean, renewable energy.
Marketing
SmartPower uses its research to construct targeted marketing campaigns to
convince consumers to make the switch to clean energy and energy-efficient
habits. SmartPower spreads its message through marketing, advertising,
promotion, public relations, blogging and social networking.
Community Organizing
SmartPower builds partnerships with utility companies, state agencies,
municipalities, clean energy funds and community groups to promote clean energy
to consumers at a grassroots level. SmartPower also provides marketing tools to
local organizations so they can market clean energy in their communities
Contact:
Lyn Rosoff, Deputy Director
SmartPower
1120 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 1040
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-775-2040
Email: LRosoff@smartpower.org
www.smartpower.org
Clean Energy Group (Ceg) is a nonprofit
organization established in 1998 to increase the
use of clean energy technologies in the u.s. and
internationally through innovative financing,
business partnerships, public policy and advocacy.
Ceg works with state and nonprofit officials from
across the u.s. that are responsible for over $6
billion in clean energy funds. Ceg manages the
Clean energy states alliance, a nonprofit assisting
its member clean energy funds and programs in
research, information sharing and multi-state
strategies to deploy clean energy technologies.
Ceg also works with public officials in europe
interested in trans-atlantic efforts to build clean
energy markets.
Ceg, including its work through Cesa, is supported
by the state clean energy funds, and by major
foundations including the annenberg Foundation,
the John merck Fund, new york Community trust,
Jane’s trust, and others.
We invite you to learn more about Ceg and its
projects at the following websites:
www.cleanegroup.org
www.cleanenergystates.org
www.statesadvancingsolar.org
printed on recycled paper. © 2009 Clean energy group

Acknowledgments
many people have been helpful in the development of this report, including lew milford and maria Blais of Clean energy group; Warren leon, formerly of the massachusetts renewable energy trust; roger Clark from pennsylvania’s trF sustainable development Fund; adele Ferranti, dave Friello and Judy Jarnefeld of nyserda; lizzie guiles rubado and Betsy Kauffman of energy trust of oregon; eran mahrer and rex stepp of arizona public service; molly sterkel of California CpuC; sandy miller and amy morgan of the California new solar Homes partnership; ryan Helton and Jane tabor of new mexico energy, minerals and natural resources department; tom plant and Jeff lyng from Colorado’s governor’s energy office; Ann Marie McShea and Scott Hunter from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Sam nutter of massachusetts’ Commonwealth solar initiative; and lise dondy and dale Hedman of the Connecticut Clean energy Fund. the opinions presented in this report are those of Clean energy group and smartpower and are not intended to represent the position of Clean energy states alliance or any of its individual members, or the u.s. department of energy.

Financial Support

support for this report was generously provided by Clean energy states alliance and the department of energy’s solar energy technologies program.

Disclaimer
Clean energy group and smartpower do not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process that is referred to in this report. References in this report to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring neither by the united states government or any agency thereof nor of the individual members of the Clean energy states alliance. the views and opinions expressed in this web site do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof, or the individual members of the Clean energy states alliance.

smart solar marKeting strategies
Prepared by

Clean Energy Group and SmartPower
AUGUST 2009

Table of Contents
executive summary introduction and Background marketing and the 4 p’s Building a marketing plan marketing strategy #1: improving the Value equation for solar marketing strategy #2: reinforcing the reliability of solar technology marketing strategy #3: reducing the Complexity of solar marketing strategy #4: overcoming Customer inertia marketing strategy #5: Finding the right message marketing strategy #6: reaching new Customer markets developing a marketing plan: How to Begin Conclusion 1 4 5 7 8 12 17 20 22 25 26 27

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advertising. and where product information is presented to consumers. public relations activities. this perspective reflects a narrow definition of marketing – one that primarily focuses on communications-centered initiatives. and education of stakeholders. although state solar programs report limited marketing initiatives of their own.1% of u. solar programs must address the key barriers to its market growth. a green economy. pricing. c) who do consumers believe to be credible sources of product information. Clean Energy Group l  l Smart Solar Marketing Strategies . promotion. goods.    Executive Summary this report showcases smart marketing strategies from clean energy programs and solar marketers from across the country that address how to overcome the barriers faced by solar technology markets and serves as a guide for states in pursuing their own market planning process. etc. when. state solar program managers must see themselves as a critical part of the solar sales process. a marketer.s. When all of these elements are successfully integrated. and greenhouse gas reductions. marketing connects with the consumer and builds desire for the product. energy production. However. needs to understand: a) current consumer perceptions of the product and what must be overcome to improve those perceptions. therefore. For marketing to be successful.” effective marketing guides how. and distribution of ideas. While there has been a major increase in solar photovoltaic (pV) installations in recent years. However. resulting in a sale. more solar technology deployment will be required. the reality is that in order to drive more solar power installations. in order for solar energy to make a sizeable contribution to jobs. therefore. and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.. the total amount of solar power installed nonetheless represents less than 0. b) what price/value equation will have the most appeal. it must create a desire for a product. such as website strategies. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the process of planning and executing the conception. and d) where to place this key information in the form of promotion. so that it will reach the right consumer target. with the ultimate goal of persuading consumers to purchase a particular brand or product. these marketing resources are important. and state solar programs play a critical role in creating and supporting effective marketing initiatives that can address the major market barriers. installing solar technologies is no simple task. marketing in the broader sense should play an important role to expand the growth of solar.

address consumer concerns. solar programs also must create a connection with customers through marketing messages that are likely to enhance interest and lead to further inquiry. a retailer knows how essential it is to: • • • • • let the public know what it offers create pricing that appeals to the public demonstrate and stand by the quality of the product make it as easy as possible to make the purchase create a buzz about the product that generates interest and action Clean Energy Group l  l Clean Energy State Program Guide . reliability. and all four must be addressed to expand the market. Cost. 3. and provide state solar programs with guidelines that should be integrated into their overall marketing approach. the need to understand consumer attitudes and develop programs and communication approaches that address those barriers ultimately means that state solar programs must tHinK and aCt liKe retailers.Consumers consistently report a preference for energy produced from renewable energy sources but invariably fail to purchase renewable energy in sizeable numbers. Inertia. Consumers report high up-front and out-of-pocket costs and long payback periods deter them from installing solar energy technology. in addition to addressing these barriers. Consumers already understand the environmental benefits of solar power. it is not perceived as up to the task of powering our energy needs. therefore. messages that connect on a financial or value level are most likely to succeed. 4. 2. The lengthy decision-making process and financial complexity of the solar sale often result in consumer inertia. but those benefits have not been persuasive enough to broaden market adoption. the time consuming and complex nature of purchasing and installing solar energy systems discourages potential customers. research conducted by smartpower and detailed in this report was designed to identify the barriers to solar purchases. SmartPower’s findings concluded that there are four primary barriers to solar market growth. the absence of solar technologies in the public’s eye and confusion about its performance and capabilities create concerns about the reliability of solar technology. smartpower also learned from over seven years of message research in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency that the “environmental” message is not the answer to motivate consumers to purchase renewable energy technologies. those barriers include: 1. Complexity.

SmartPower August 2009 Clean Energy Group l  l Smart Solar Marketing Strategies . While state solar programs are not directly “selling solar installations” to customers.For retailers. nor an endorsement of any one particular approach. the complexity of purchasing solar and consumer inertia. to be effective. Mark Sinclair. a state solar program’s marketing activities. its perception of unreliability. the guide is not meant to be a clearinghouse of all solar marketing programs. it is offered to provide solar programs and stakeholders with examples of innovative strategies that can make a difference in solar marketing. Clean Energy Group Lyn Rosoff. this guide cites many marketing initiatives that are contributing to the growth and interest in solar across the country. By starting with that end in mind. also must lead to an action: an application for a solar program’s financial incentive to purchase and install a solar energy system. therefore. state programs can focus their limited marketing resources to address the major marketing barriers. the state marketing approaches and activities must lead the customer to the solar sale. they measure success in the form of megawatts of solar installed. instead. success is easy to measure: it’s the ringing of the cash register. to achieve state solar megawatt goals. However. a solar marketing plan must address the technology’s value proposition. nevertheless. overcome consumer resistance and broaden the market.

which grew 57% over 2006 levels. the report highlighted best practices from states with robust solar programs.cleanegroup.pdf) This report is designed to complement the findings from Ceg’s Mainstreaming Solar Electricity Program Guide and to provide a similarly helpful tool that focuses on how marketing initiatives can help achieve state solar program goals. By identifying and addressing consumer barriers.000 in the united states in 2007 and most were concentrated in a few states. (see http://www. addressing such issues as state renewable portfolio standards. the need to market solar effectively is more critical than ever. Clean Energy Group l  l Clean Energy State Program Guide . However.org/reports/Ceg_mainstreaming-solarelectricity_apr2008. The 2008 solar market was five times the size of the 2007 market. However. commercial and residential consumers are beginning to appreciate the price stability that solar power offers. with an uncertain economy and financial resources stretched for both commercial and residential customers. state incentive programs can increase the demand for solar power and achieve megawatt goals. Background the marketplace for solar is exploding as more states increase investment in solar incentive programs. now is an important time for states to use focused solar marketing efforts to attract new customers to solar and bring this renewable energy technology into the mainstream. training. and serves as a guide for states in pursuing their own market planning process. Clean energy group (Ceg) released a report on state strategies for building a strong solar marketplace entitled Clean Energy State Program Guide: Mainstreaming Solar Electricity: Strategies for States to Build Local Markets. this report showcases examples from clean energy programs and solar marketers from across the country that have addressed these barriers. the report identified critical state policies and programs necessary to build a successful solar program. with 69% of all installations in California alone. Many customers with a financial focus are now motivated beyond environmental attributes to look at solar power for the first time. and marketing and education. equipment ratings. installation standards.Introduction in april 2008. as natural gas and oil prices remain volatile. solar installations totaled only 80. long-term financing. building codes.

Clean Energy Group l  l Smart Solar Marketing Strategies . Promotion – offer a useful matrix to assess state solar programs. state incentive programs define the 4 P’s in a slightly different way than do solar suppliers. service or social cause. power in their region. marketing is at the heart of every successful brand. these attitudes affect the desire to purchase. Both share the same goal: building a strong customer base for solar the Place. organization. quality issues) informs marketing and communications approaches by identifying both the opportunities – the strengths and positive attributes that should be marshaled – and the barriers – the concerns and “issues” that prevent sales. how to communicate that value in a compelling way. marketing is not merely communications. price them. or control the quality of technology or installation. and cause. For marketing purposes. While state solar programs do not produce solar panels.. Today. However. many states are addressing the financing of solar to help overcome consumer price concerns. states must ensure that prospective customers are aware of these new financing strategies and aggressively promote the financial “value” of solar products to consumer targets. For example. marketing is the process of identifying what the consumer needs. Price. they will sharpen the focus of outreach efforts and improve the effectiveness of their solar program offerings. how the product or service can address that need. state programs can evaluate the Product from the perspective of consumers’ rational and emotional attitudes towards solar technology. developers. similarly. and suppliers. ensuring that customers can easily find Price is one of the single biggest barriers to growing the solar marketplace. However. business. Building a strong supplier network is critical in keeping up with rising demand. to advertising in traditional media. their program success is integrally linked to the success of solar suppliers.Marketing and the 4 P’s We live in a society that bombards consumers with messages. Place.g. also is an area where solar programs have an important role through their work with installers. financing mechanisms are broadening access to solar power and making it available to new customer groups. reliability. to e-newsletters and eblasts. to on-line chat room links. solar program initiatives should address each of the 4 p’s. When state solar incentive program managers think like marketers. all designed to build a “share of mind” for a product. a consumer will not buy a poorly manufactured product or one with a questionable reputation merely because the price is good. each plays an important part in marketing solar. from pop-ups on computers. the best quality product must be affordable to ensure market share. and how to deliver that message in the most efficient and effective manner. Consumer reaction to solar technology (e. or channels through which solar is sold. price. it is the sum presentation to the customer of a value equation that results in a sale or action. The classic elements of marketing – the 4 P’s: Product.

become more effective in achieving solar goals. they may conclude that they need to better understand their customer through market research. and. focus their efforts on specific target customer bases (customer segmentation). as a result. resulting in a sale. marketing matches the right customer to the right product. as solar incentive programs examine their program offerings through the lens of Product. sample a new product. or inquire about a solar incentive program. and address key messages to reach those audiences effectively and efficiently (communications). Whether a marketer’s goal is to persuade a customer to visit a store. Clean Energy Group l  l Clean Energy State Program Guide . states also should look at how complex the solar sales process can be for consumers and how solar programs can minimize and ease the transaction process. rather than program-focused. the 4p’s ensure that all aspects of the “sale” are covered. improved pricing alone will not matter. make a donation to a nonprofit organization. the development of a solar marketing plan must start with the consumer in mind. commercial and institutional customers. visit a website. Promotion of solar should be a primary focus as state programs seek to increase the visibility of solar installations and broaden the appeal of their solar incentive programs. using communications and promotional strategies to favorably present solar in the marketplace and ensuring that the right messages are presented to the public will help build a stronger market for solar technologies. therefore. Place and Promotion. as states apply marketing approaches to their solar initiatives. If consumers are not confident about the reliability of solar. Price. improving the process of purchasing solar will not alone make a difference in overall sales if the price/value equation has not been addressed. all elements must work together to motivate the target customer to take action. lastly.an installer is part of this task. the process is the same. This evaluation process informs the elements of a solar marketing plan. they will become more customer-focused. in essence. if one “starts with the end in mind. purchase an existing product.” a solar marketing plan identifies how a state program will achieve installed megawatt goals through acquisition of residential.

the remainder of this report will 1) identify major market barriers. understanding what consumers believe both rationally and emotionally about solar technology will help shape the direction of a solar marketing plan. Clean Energy Group l  l Smart Solar Marketing Strategies . but have not yet become buyers). have concerns about solar power that are barriers to market growth.Building a Marketing Plan the low market penetration of green energy pricing products and solar technology suggests that customers. arizona public service (aps). the energy trust of oregon (eto) (manager of the state of oregon’s solar incentive program) could not explain why a growing interest in solar. whether they are residential or commercial. in both cases the goal was to better understand Based on these studies. how best to overcome market barriers. and 3) recommend action steps to implement a successful marketing plan. in 2007. smartpower embarked on consumer research studies in two very diverse states: arizona and oregon. the oregon and arizona studies looked at both residential solar customers and solar prospects (smartpower refers to prospective customers as “Inerts” – those who express interest in solar by attending a seminar or requesting information. the key findings point to several essential elements for an effective solar marketing plan. 2) detail smart marketing strategies to address each barrier. was not translating into increased application for its program’s solar incentives. While there is much to learn from these studies. as seen through rising attendance at monthly educational seminars. was interested in improving its existing solar incentive program. Conducting both quantitative and qualitative studies of these customer segments provided valuable insights to help shape the development of smart marketing initiatives. address consumer needs and increase solar customers. the state’s largest utility.

the message often serves as a deal stopper. they also must ensure that consumers are aware of those financial offerings. when solar incentive programs provide a website calculator that informs the prospective customer of the total cost of installing solar. the homeowner may hit a mental “delete” signal. there are important lessons for solar marketing from the automobile industry. By “calculating” the cost of solar installation at $20. or promoted through press releases and on the program website only. already-interested solar prospect waiting to take advantage of these offerings. this indicates that the small number of consumers who are able to afford solar is a major factor in what has kept the market growth for solar technologies so low. Therefore. the oregon study found that less than 5% of energy trust of oregon’s solar customers used home equity loans or other financing to pay for their solar installation. Car dealers have long understood the value of promoting their product by highlighting affordable monthly installments (whether through leasing arrangements or purchase) rather than through full price sticker shock. the value equation (the relationship between the consumer’s expectations of the product’s benefits to the costs) for solar is not strong and high up-front costs are limiting market growth. Full cost information may be hindering the advancement of a solar sale. while many states are putting financing programs in place to overcome the high cost of solar. the car dealer does not promote its low monthly pricing options only to its existing customers. this approach may attract the well-informed. 160 Respondents Clean Energy Group l  l Clean Energy State Program Guide .MA rk ETin G STr ATEG y #1 iMProvin G ThE vAluE E q uATi o n o F So lA r smartpower’s studies showed that cost is the single biggest barrier to purchasing solar among those customers who attended solar seminars. similarly. changing the public’s perception about the affordability Oregon. Often these programs are available in small pilot programs. it can only succeed if it is able to attract new customers. However.000 or more. likewise. most inerts were clear that the high out-of-pocket costs made solar energy system purchases prohibitive.

but the actual dollar amount makes me take a second look. California created a pilot city tax program that allowed home owners to apply solar installation costs to their property taxes. to that end. comfortable. “i knew about the loan offer. in fact. http://www. While many of these initiatives are relatively new. a California-based installer that is offering solar leases to residential customers with a very strong affordability promotion on their website: Clean Energy Group l  l Smart Solar Marketing Strategies . and yet when a $15. the value message about how to afford solar should be the most prominent message delivered. The recent proliferation of creative solar financing strategies provides the tools to address the price/ Value barrier. in addition. Customers knew about the availability of 0% interest loans. smartpower research in oregon and arizona found that most solar customers today already held a long-standing interest in solar with the incentive program functioning as more of an enabler than a true incentive and promotion that brings new customers to the program. states should prominently feature this message of affordability on their solar program websites.” recent focus groups conducted by smartpower with home energy audit customers confirmed this. An example of how to use these new financing offerings to create a strong value message can be found on smud’s website. as one customer reported. low interest loans.of solar power will ultimately make the most difference in building consumer demand. SolarSmart Homes are a wise investment that make doing the right thing easy.” a similar effective “value” message is being delivered by solarCity. Buy a SolarSmart HomeSM and reduce your annual electric bill by as much as 60 percent. demonstrating the consumer demand for affordable payment approaches. investment-focused message: Make a SolarSmart choice today and enjoy a new home that is more affordable. they reflect the need to give consumers more financing options and reduce the out-of-pocket cost of solar installations to a manageable monthly expense that is more comparable to their electric bill.aspx Highlighting the specific monthly cost of a solar lease or loan has a much stronger effect than simply promoting “low interest loans. 3rd party leasing and innovative programs like smud’s SolarShare are making solar available to new customer groups. However.smud. a primary marketing challenge for states to address is to ensure that the marketplace hears the positive message about the value equation for solar. SolarSmart Homes combine the most cost effective energy efficient features and roof top solar electric generation in a package that makes homeowners money every month. and environmentally friendly.org/en/residential/solarsmart/pages/index. they are not always as innovative or aggressive at promoting the offerings to consumers. while many programs are providing innovative financing schemes. the City of Berkeley. the program had substantially more appeal. smud promotes its solarsmart homes program with a value-oriented. therefore. as one example.000 / 7 year loan was presented to customers as $125/month payments. it was sold out within nine minutes. it is important to realize that these new solar financing mechanisms are tools that can tell new customers that solar is affordable. Because the affordability of solar is so central to expanding solar adoption.

institutional customers. today. municipal leaders are actively seeking strategies to reduce energy costs and environmental impact. well above expectations. but savings are of greater value to the homeowner. we would recommend installing a 16 panel solar system.solarcity. this solarCity solar leasing approach offers immediate financial relief and guarantees.com/residential/solarlease. suggesting that they already had an interest in solar before they knew what incentives were available. Just as with financing the purchase of a home. such as state. In sum. http://www. the affordability of solar is not just an issue for residential and commercial customers. realizing this. are also an important source of future solar customers.SolarLease Example for Typical 3Bedroom Home For a home with a monthly electricity bill of $200. maintenance and other program offerings that create a great value for the consumer. the massachusetts’ Commonwealth solar program created solar workshops specifically targeted to municipal leaders to educate them on power purchase agreements to expand solar on public buildings. cable television. most solar customers learn about incentives from their installer. solar has more interest for cities and towns than ever before and high attendance at these workshops is proof of that demand. Currently. outreach activities. an automobile. superintendent of schools and mayor was invited to attend a workshop to learn about solar energy’s value proposition. and the internet to promote these affordable options to the public. Your monthly SolarLease payment would be $100. the workshops were sold out with over 100 people attending in Boston and 130 people in central massachusetts. every Board of selectman. or a college education. Clean Energy Group l 0 l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . and neither is paying out-ofpocket for a new solar energy system. promoting the value story through new messages. and forums will expand the solar marketplace by reaching new customers and creating broader interest in solar power. incentive programs may want to consider using advertising opportunities such as national public radio. municipal and county buildings. This system will generate enough electricity to offset what you are currently paying to the utility company from $200 down to $75 per month. creating and promoting innovative financing mechanisms for customers to install solar are critical to expanding the market. paying cash for a new car is not possible for most consumers. financing options for solar purchases are necessary to overcome high upfront costs.aspx For a homeowner looking to reduce utility bills. so you could actually save $25 per month from day one. the environmental benefits are important.

Work with local utilities to promote the value of combining solar with energy efficiency for optimum financial effectiveness. . 6. . remembering that this is the biggest barrier to broader adoption. Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies .Ensure that workshops and other solar seminars highlight financing as a key component. . if any. . Focus on “how to pay for solar.Use the website to show monthly payment options for solar technology purchases or leases. . 5. public relations and advertising that go beyond the website. 3. . 4. . municipal and institutional customers.Can you leverage the resources of strategic partners (such as lending organizations) to create broader awareness? Develop an outreach plan.Are you reaching a broad audience with these options and bringing new customer groups to solar? . identify the range of financial options currently available to customers within your market.What new approaches. PPA’s and other monthly financing strategies available? . host special solar financing events/workshops. and developers.Identify target groups such as business associations. 7. Work with installers. Educate homeowners and commercial customers. 8. should you offer? Evaluate how you currently promote financial options to prospective customers. Create a strong “affordability” message. 2.Marketing Plan Action Step #1: IMPROVE THE VALUE EQUATION 1.” .Ensure that they are promoting the financing options that are available to their potential customers.Prominently promote the affordability message in collateral material.Are lease arrangements.

the images that emerged from this assignment were best represented by one solar customer who drew a simple cottage in the country and entitled it. built at the cost of $900. when nike™ wanted to demonstrate the high performance of its basketball shoes. effective tactics to address consumer concerns and reinforce the strength and reliability of their products. in our neighborhoods or on our public buildings. sat empty due to storm damage. such as: • “sampling” the product so that prospective customers are exposed to its quality and benefits. solar energy systems are not often visible in our every day lives. this was confirmed by smartpower’s qualitative research when consumers were asked to draw pictures of their vision of a solar world. the headline “Celebrated solar House left in the dark” contributes to the concern about solar as not up to the task of meeting the energy demands of homeowners. Consumer marketers must counter these perceptions with strategies to bolster solar’s attribute of reliability. solar programs can begin to address the issue of reliability by ensuring that solar is as visible as possible in their markets and is presented as a powerful source of energy. Questions about billing issues. “what happens on a rainy day or in a snow storm?” and even how much power solar customers will save. where. sometimes even among those who have installed a solar product.MArk ET in G STrATEG y #2 rE in F orCin G T hE rEli Ab i l iT y o F So lA r T E Ch n o l oGy Concern about the reliability of solar is a barrier to market growth. michigan. one that will help fuel and build a stronger economy. confusing terms such as net metering. as a result. solar technology remains an abstract concept or a niche product rather than a mainstream energy source. For example. most people do not think of solar power as a reliable source of energy for their home. Consumer marketers have used a number of However. and a timex™ watch was dropped from a high rooftop and it kept on ticking. it partnered with michael Jordan. services. the house was not “in the dark” due to the solar system’s lack of performance but due to a heater malfunctioning that caused pipes to burst. For most people. We rarely see solar installations as we travel or on tV.000. this perception is often reinforced by misleading stories such as those appearing out of troy. in the winter of 2009. a model solar home. the invisibility of solar technologies contributes to a sense that solar energy is not up to the task of powering our modern world.” reliability questions also abound. consumers believe they will be “buying” into a simpler lifestyle with solar that they are not ready for. demonstrate the concerns about reliability and also contribute to a belief that solar power is not a realistic consumer purchase. Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . “Quiet simplicity. there are many examples from the annals of consumer marketing that illustrate effective strategies for establishing a product’s quality. or goods.

• Celebrity endorsement – “If a celebrity uses the product. they nevertheless do build a strong case about the ability of solar to power our world. answer questions. in 2008. and extended their partnership by installing solar on the phoenix suns’ stadium.delegates. are excellent ways to address the reliability issue. com/main/news/releases/release_443. When governor arnold schwarzenegger launched his million solar roofs campaign in 2004.aps. I’m thinking about it. For example. • arizona public service has found its celebrity partner in steve nash of the phoenix suns. and his reputation is unassailable. such as sports fans and business travelers. the solar quiz and sweepstakes were part of kiosks displayed at state fairs and other high traffic venues across California. it must be good. For example. nsHp teamed up with Clear Channel radio to increase awareness of solar during solar energy awareness month in June. While these strategies may not have been deployed specifically to address the reliability issue. denver. but on-going visibility to a wide range of constituencies that are not typically introduced to solar. covering seven acres.html an effective way to educate consumers about solar products is by using media to promote its benefits.com/local/denver.html • installing solar in high visibility locations. it will work for you. solar signage completes this campaign tie-in. governor’s mansions and sports stadiums. For example.html installing solar in highly visible locations and using the attendant public relations opportunities helps build support for solar power. using high traffic locations and advertising – “If I see it. such as airports. and have a chance to win a hybrid vehicle.2.convention. aps uses nash in radio advertising and on their website.” • awareness building. he essentially became the state’s celebrity endorser for solar power. press conferences. Co installed a large solar array of 9.798582. http://cbs4denver. aps teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and with a local radio show whose weekly feature focused on home improvements. nash is the most popular and likeable sports star in arizona. inside the arena. http://www.” • Testimonials by customers – “It worked for me. California’s New Solar Homes partnership (nsHp) combined a number of promotional elements to help educate consumers about the value of solar while capturing names of prospects. http:// Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . these installations increase solar • • visibility to the public by not only creating a public relations opportunity. many states are employing “quality” messages to support their solar programs. and informational materials are all part of building the reliability story.” in addition. • California’s solar program administrators believe that much of their success is due to the strong political backing and high visibility of their governor in supporting solar. educational seminars.com/my_community/storyarchive/storyarchive_51.aps. the sponsorship allowed aps to highlight the benefits of installing a solar water heater while also promoting its charitable role. at the denver airport that was visible to delegates coming to the democratic national Convention in the summer of 2008.800 panels. http://www. Clear Channel created a 30 second radio spot that directed consumers to a website where they could watch a short video.

sponsored by sunedison and three solar manufacturers.php?option=com_con tent&view=article&id=549&itemid=94 • the pg&e solar schools program in California includes installation of photovoltaic systems in public schools. and Colorado. solar is smart. visiting 5. The Science Center works in conjunction with the Hartford public school system and has brought more than 13. solar is now. http://www. nsHp creates a database of prospects that can be used to drive visits to new solar homes and solar events.gosolarsweepstakes. the promotion not only educates customers about the value of solar and the way in which it reduces energy costs.org/builders/marketing_resources/index.gosolarcalifornia.html the nsHp also addresses reliability through its theme line. http://ctsciencecenter.com • “sampling” is a tried and true way that allows customers to try a new product.000 people across 48 states.ases. which kicks off on the first Saturday in October – National Energy Awareness Month – attracts 150.pdf • the most well known of the solar “sampling” programs is the american solar energy society’s National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the country. http://www. California.org/user/sunedisonpueblo. By sharing expenses.000 people participated in the 2008 contest and it has been repeated in 2009 with “Win a green Home makeover” contest where consumers are instructed to watch a video. take a quiz about the reliability and features of solar. new mexico. including Washington. has created an interactive educational exhibit contained in two bio-diesel trucks.www.org/exhibits/energy-city/default.000 students to see the exhibit. minnesota. over 17. recognize that solar has gone mainstream. and “Bright ideas” grants. which traveled to 50 cities in the western part of the united states. oregon. talk to home owners. arizona. workshops for teachers.000 solar homes. “solar is Working. it provided a way for political and business leaders to sample the power of solar in well-organized events.aspx • the 2008 City tour for solar. texas. the Tour. the high visibility display combined with curriculum support for school children create a strong face for solar. by gathering entries. the state’s energy efficiency fund and CCEF have contributed $1 million towards “energy smart” in which solar panels are part of an exhibition that focuses on efficiency and renewables. and because of the sheer size of the tour.” this delivers a strong solar message to both developers and consumers that solar is a smart choice. it also creates great opportunities for state solar programs to support the tour. but also. nevada. now in its 13th year. since its inception in Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide .org/index. http://www. the tour staged exhibits at both the 2008 democratic national Convention and the republican national Convention to increase support among candidates and legislators for solar incentives and federal tax credits.smartgrowthadvocates. the Connecticut Clean energy Fund (CCeF) has found a way to allow people to ‘sample’ solar through its educational display at the Connecticut science Center. the tour gives customers the opportunity to see solar in action. a solar-based curriculum-training package. and are entered into the sweepstakes.

trained more than 3. including solar grid reliability. who came away with a much stronger appreciation for solar power and the role it plays as an important energy source.s.pdF • solar electric power association (sepa). sepa hosted a similar trip to spain and has now instituted a utility peer match program that allows utilities to be matched with similar utilities to share best practices. in 2009. Executives had the opportunity to speak with their european counterparts regarding utility-focused concerns. http://www. realtors are critical to the success of selling solar in new home purchases. http://www. utility executives.pge.-based energy organizations to attend a fact-finding trip to Germany in 2008. are now working with realty organizations to provide solar information seminars that help realtors speak more comfortably about the quality and value of solar power. pg&e’s solar schools program has installed solar on more than 125 schools.ca. education is the key.org/ peer/index. many state solar programs.000 students. http://www. focusing solely on purchase price.energy.s. and benefited almost 200. including those in California and oregon. hosted executives from 23 u.gov/ 2009publications/CeC-180-2009-006/CeC-1802009-006.solaroregon.php Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies .org/realtors_appraisers and http://www. a realtor who cannot effectively talk about the value of solar on a home may re-direct a prospective buyer to a less expensive home.com/ solarschools/ • an increasingly important customer segment in advancing solar sales is the real estate industry.2004. this was an excellent hands-on educational opportunity for u.000 teachers. recognizing the growing importance of utility companies in solar growth. rather than factoring in energy costs.solarelectricpower. state clean energy programs can host similar educational “fact finding” trips within their states for key solar stakeholders.

workshops for municipalities) to build confidence in solar technologies. Create campaigns built around positive testimonials from corporations. and institutions who have installed solar power. Create special viP tours for target groups. Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . 5. businesses. offer educational seminars for specific targeted segments (chambers of commerce.Marketing Plan Action Step #2: REINFORCE THE RELIABILITY OF SOLAR 1. Evaluate customer concerns about solar reliability in your market. 6. identify strategic partnerships with sports teams. 2. 7. local celebrities and media to create positive solar images and increase presence of solar installations in the public eye and in the marketplace. solar seminars for homeowners. Find opportunities to increase visibility of solar installations in high traffic locations. 3. Create a speakers’ bureau of homeowners and business leaders who will speak about the effectiveness of solar power to meet their energy and financial needs. Participate in or increase awareness of annual solar home tours to broaden attendance. 4.

the customer can not proceed with decision-making and becomes increasingly frustrated. the decision-making process site visit to their home. while relying on the car dealer as the sole source of information about the product’s performance. then installers were not ready to invest in a research also indicates that solar customers are much more comfortable with technology than “Inerts” – those simply thinking about solar. and consumers often feel overwhelmed by the process. smartpower research participants reported that they often encountered difficulty getting estimates from solar installers as part of their decision-making process. creating a Catch-22 situation. if they were not ready to install a system. there aren’t currently any iconic brands for solar products. this is much like asking a customer to buy an unknown brand of automobile. the solar purchase process is often complex and more time consuming than most people expect. As early adopters. Without an estimate. Customer inert Oregon. 223 respondents Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . for most people who had installed solar pV. existing solar customers are more at ease researching manufacturer and installer options than those who are more conservative about new technology. reliability and price. solar technology is not viewed as a product that is easy for consumers to purchase and install. leaving consumers to rely on installers for much of the information that they receive.MA rk ETin G STr ATEG y #3 rED u CinG T hE C oMP lEx iT y oF So lA r the decision-making process for installing solar can be more lengthy and complex than expected. smartpower’s research in both arizona and oregon found that.

solar programs have the opportunity to take on the important role of trusted advisor and to guide prospective customers through the long process of installation.” Consumers reported that they then felt more comfortable moving forward with their solar installation. energy trust of oregon heard that customers were frustrated by the difficulty of getting installers to make a site visit in order to provide an estimate of the cost of installation. 63 respondents Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . was extremely well received by participants. smartpower’s survey showed that in many cases these customers simply had not installed yet. a free on-site estimate. inerts reported how complex the process is. their lack of confidence with technology contributed to a feeling of being overwhelmed at times.org/forms/sle_Fs_ressolarnow. eto utilized home energy auditors from the state Energy Efficiency Department to provide the estimates.” However. “it feels like a full time job. there are many ways that state programs can help make the solar installation process less onerous for consumers.energytrust. examples from programs across the country include: • From focus groups. these energy professionals offered the added benefit of serving as a trusted advisor – someone who offered advice to customers without any “sell. often more than two years. this program. http:// www. eto responded by offering those who attend solar seminars and signed up on the spot. they often felt lost in the process of researching all the options available.took more than one year. which was launched as a pilot. as one focus group panelist said about installing solar. this lengthy decision-making process provided the answer to oregon’s question regarding why those attending solar seminars had not yet installed a system.pdf Oregon.

with prospects who are thinking about solar. solaramericacities. http://www. Work with installers to reduce time delays in the process of providing estimates to solar prospects.• madison. credible source of information to help them navigate the complexity of energy solutions customized for their home.solaroregon. Consider offering free estimates and/or an energy advisor program to guide prospects through the solar incentive application process. created an energy advocate program that allows interested solar prospects access to an unbiased. http://www. a solar america Cities designee.ci. Evaluate opportunities to create a solar ambassador program that connects existing solar customers with prospective customers to provide information during the complex decision-making process. Wisconsin. who have gone through the process of installation.aspx?id=38064 oregon’s solar ambassador program matches existing solar customers. http://www. that helps reduce the decision-making time and gives the homeowner more confidence about moving forward.energy. California is using its solar america Cities designation to create smartsolar.us/Contentdisplay. permitting and financing options. pairing experienced solar advocates with those going through the process provides the uninitiated with free advice and counsel and gives new customers the confidence to move forward with their decision to install. Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . 3. in conjunction with a solar estimate.ca. a program to provide technical assistance and an online mapping tool (Berkeley solar map) to Marketing Plan Action Step #3: REDUCE THE COMPLEXITY 1.berkeley.gov/Cities. aspx?City=madison • assess solar potential for any roof in the city. 2. this resource helps identify the best solar energy options and provides information on project planning. the energy advocate performs a high quality home energy audit.org/get-involved/solar-ambassadorsprogram • Berkeley.

one of the most significant strategies to prompt action is the use of a declining incentive program. it often is easier to do nothing and place decisions on the perpetual “back burner.” the social pressure to engage in the solar process was satisfied by just researching and attending seminars. all marketers compete not only with other products within the same category. in doing so. Free Solar on New Home. attendees receive a letter. “time to take the next step. or at play. employing the retail mindset will help solar programs address what all retailers compete with – share of mind and share of action. they are a significant part of the sales process. with the directive. in marketing. but also with competition for free time. as one participant claimed.” it is important to realize that state solar programs have an important role in the retail process and. each year the solar incentive program provides fewer dollars to the customers to reflect a corresponding drop in the costs of installation. marketers use promotional techniques to motivate consumers to 1) learn about a product. not necessarily installing solar. the “no interest for one year” promotion is designed to promote value and encourage a purchase noW. nothing is more important than “Free” and no position is better than “first to market. signed by the governor.” therefore. now. will inevitably lead to consumer inertia and fall out. which can compete with time spent at work. Focus groups revealed that many solar seminar attendees felt that. and lengthy application forms. eto changed its communications strategy. is an excellent example of how to integrate consumer insights into an effective strategic direction designed to build incremental solar sales.MA rk ETin G STr ATEG y #4 ovE r CoMin G CuSToME r i nE rT i A a complex product like solar technology. 3) make a visit to a store. with a strong call to action. examples of other “retail” approaches being used by states today include the following: Clean Energy Group l 0 l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . financing. immediately following participation in a seminar.” • • energy trust of oregon (eto) addressed customer inertia through an aggressive marketing communications approach. 2) sample a product. therefore. consumers often are hard-pressed to find the time to make solar product choices. state solar incentive programs should encourage prospective customers to continue to move forward and reduce the lengthy decision-making process. and 4) make a purchase. to encourage forward momentum. the program encourages early installations to maximize the incentive’s contribution to total costs. “attending a workshop is not doing nothing. with family. permitting. With today’s fast-paced. as such. get one Free” coupon are simply a device to motivate a store visit. must deal with consumer inertia. with a two-year decision-making cycle that requires research. While solar incentive programs are not specifically selling solar. overbooked lifestyle. techniques such as the “Buy one. therefore.” this “retail” approach. even surveys on the internet are crafted to deliver users to websites. the over-burdened consumer is the retailer’s enemy. state clean energy programs and solar marketers should use a variety of similar innovative sales promotions to encourage consumers to overcome this inertia and move towards a solar “sale.

which allowed them to showcase the features of their high-end homes. Marketing Plan Action Step #4: HELP CUSTOMERS OVERCOME INERTIA 1. solar is offered on trilogy Homes as an upgrade feature.shea Homes. Follow• ing the promotional period. 3. utilized its higher-end trilogy green Homes to be the first builder to roll out a national solar offering. 2008. Florida and Washington during the month of august. 4. raise the level of visibility of solar in the marketplace to keep solar in mind. use promotional incentives and prospect mailings to encourage forward progress and sales. shea received great publicity for creating the offer. the short-term promotion was designed to drive traffic. these programs connect trusted advisors with solar prospects and serve to give consumers the confidence to move forward in their decisionmaking and shorten the installation process. national developer of new homes. Consider implementing a declining incentive program that encourages customers to act now. the energy advisor and solar ambassador programs (referred to in the previous section) also are excellent strategies for overcoming inertia. Create a database of interested solar prospects and develop a communications strategy that continues to engage these prospective customers during the long decision-making process. 2. California. Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . trilogy Homes offered a free 3 kW solar system on homes sold in arizona.

none of the participants from the focus groups selected “good for the environment. smartpower research in 2007 and 2008 found that in markets such as arizona. smartpower tested five positioning statements with over 75 focus group participants in oregon and arizona to determine the most compelling solar message. and to date. Consumers need a fresh and powerful message that will put solar on their radar screens and bring new customers to the technology. this requires rethinking how solar programs talk about and promote solar power. programs also must try to change long-held perceptions about solar power. that knowledge alone has not led to a market surge. solar Creates energy independence. many people who install solar on their homes and businesses are motivated by the environmental benefits that solar offers. solar is good for the environment. like oregon. at the same time.MA rk ETin G STr ATEG y #5 Fin D in G ThE ri GhT ME S S AG E Solar programs that address the first four barriers: Cost. in markets where there is a strong environmental movement. that is. there is a predisposition to consider solar for environmental reasons. solar is good for the Health of Future generations. b. but it may not be the only or primary benefit for most customers. solar power could be part of the solution to manage increasing costs. it certainly may not be the most compelling message to which prospective customers respond. solar makes energy sense. d. solar is a good investment. the primary motivation for interest in solar was financial stability over time. smartpower showed focus groups across the country over 25 images that ranged from strong environmental images to the american flag. c. not one of the focus group members responded to the environmental images as what they associated with their vision of a solar world. motivations may differ in different regions of the country. However. Reliability. and Inertia with customer-focused initiatives will find that they are building a stronger demand for solar across their market. e. to images of solar and wind power installations. these customers understood that the price of energy was likely to increase in the future and believed Solar Marketing Research Findings. the public understands that renewable energy is good for the environment.” the Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . the selections included: a. smartpower’s solar marketing research over the past seven years in markets across the country has generally found that the environmental message is not the most compelling to the broad public. and every market must determine for itself what factors influence its customers. and asked each participant to select the one that they found most motivating. Finding the right message is an important component of success in marketing solar energy. smartpower’s research has found that the environmental message does not always resonate with prospective solar customers. in developing a branding campaign for clean energy in 2003. where a large surge in population growth had created an unprecedented need for energy. Complexity.

participants were particularly critical of any phrases that they judged “preachy” and expressed wariness at sentences that sounded political in nature. solar technology helps stabilize energy costs over time. incentives and rebates can reduce the cost of installing solar by half. solar programs should evaluate their websites from the perspective of the new prospect who is investigating solar power for the first time to ensure the site offers consumer friendly information while communicating the strong value message that “solar makes sense. e. the solar program’s website is a key source of information for solar prospects. therefore. references to global warming were negatively construed as “sounding like al gore and An Inconvenient Truth.” the key elements of these positioning statements that consumers highlighted as important are: a.“ in contrast. d. solar energy is non-polluting and renewable.environmental benefits of solar are known to these consumers but are not as motivating as other reasons to purchase. For example. useful features and easy access to information.” followed by “solar is a good investment. However. b. Marketing Implications of the Research. some solar customers viewed installation of solar much like investing in a Certificate of deposit where it increased in value over time. most websites can do a stronger job of communicating the economic value of solar. starting with Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . solar technology has come a long way in 20 years. c. By a significant margin. Here are a few noteworthy solar websites: • the “go solar California” site encourages consumers to purchase solar. solar customers are usually web savvy and do their research on the internet. solar helps lower monthly utility bills. we should tap into the power of the sun.” there are a number of solar program websites that offer good branding. respondents preferred “solar makes sense. those words and phrases that reinforced the economic aspects of installing solar were well received.

and effectively supporting the value equation of solar.nyserda.gosolarcalifornia. solarnoworegon. the site is friendly and easy to navigate for all users. 4. thinking like a retailer will help solar programs to assess whether their website is user friendly. identify what additional materials and outreach strategies are required to communicate the solar value story. the easy FaQ section makes finding information about solar easy.org/loanFundlenders/nyserda/pickbanke4.” the website embodies the “solar makes sense” messages and highlights free solar seminars. • energy trust of oregon took the important step of creating one centralized go-to website by partnering with the City of portland and a local ngo.asp. identify the “right” message for the marketplace and ensure that it is clear. • nyserda’s website offers a tool that helps consumers to locate loan and installer resources. Perform a communications audit on solar marketing materials to assess the effectiveness and consistency of the message. 3.org/ csi/faqs. a state solar program website is an essential marketing tool to help guide prospective customers through the solar purchasing process.org. www. 2. Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . Marketing Plan Action Step #5 FIND THE RIGHT MESSAGE 1. http:// www. see www. all three organizations support “solar now oregon.html. Consumers merely click on their county and all the banks and installers in that territory are listed regionally. consistent and addressing the value strategy.its website’s url. a helpful tool. review the solar program’s website for its consumer-friendly focus and message.

leveraging marketing resources at these target segments will yield results. and generate support. smartpower managed this program for both organizations and utilized friendly competitions between municipalities to encourage sign-ups. arizona public service determined that additional installers would be needed to keep up with the growing demand being generated in the Phoenix area. APS developed a specific message to target installers by creating “solar makes sense for installers” and collateral material that was distributed at the aps’ booth at a national solar conference. each state and solar program has a prospective customer base that has not yet reached its potential to become new solar customers. Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . examples include: • san Francisco created “the mayor’s solar Founder’s Circle” with a goal of encouraging solar on top of the city’s largest buildings. state clean energy programs also are an important part of this outreach effort. identifying creative ways to reach these new customers is not just the job of solar installers and suppliers. visibility and great public relations for solar power. over 80 communities across Connecticut and 20 communities in eastern pennsylvania have met this challenge and earned the designation of Clean energy Community. • the Connecticut Clean energy Fund and trF’s sustainable development Fund in pennsylvania have implemented a Clean Communities program that promotes clean energy purchases (green choice offerings) by a municipality and its residents and offers a 1 kW solar panel as an incentive. the winning municipalities install their solar panels in prominent municipal locations. mailings from the city along with site visits and technical assistance also are part of this program.MA rk ETin G STr ATEG y #6 rEAC hin G nEW C uSToM E r M Ar kE T S it is critical to broaden the customer base and open new markets for solar power. • energy trust of oregon reached out to companies who have already installed solar to enlist their employees as new solar customers. a corporate challenge provides on-site seminars for employees and encourages the companies to offer additional incentives. • one important target customer group for growing solar markets is solar installers. many solar programs across the country are providing just such outreach.500 roof tops in the city and offered financial incentives for those companies who install solar. the program targeted installations on 1.

there may be other resource needs required by the solar program. Complexity. such as megawatts of installed solar. Step Three: Establish Marketing Objectives What will the marketing plan accomplish? What are the goals? a marketing objective might include a percentage increase or megawatt goal for specific customer segments. the process of developing an effective plan includes the following steps. and installers. schools and institutions. such as commercial and industrial. the rest of the marketing plan includes a budget and timeline. Step Five: Tactics/Implementation tactics are the specific programs and initiatives that address the marketing strategy. activities within the plan must address core customer segments that are important to the solar program. as well as an approach to evaluate the success of specific tactics.Developing a Marketing Plan . breathing document that guides activities over a period of usually no more than one to two years and is focused on achieving quantifiable and measurable goals. a marketing strategy that addresses value. identifying and understanding what problems require solving is the first and most important step in constructing an effective marketing plan. for example. Step One: Market Analysis Begin by assessing past successes and failures. there may be other strategies relevant to your specific market that should be included or receive priority. thinking like a retailer is the key because it will ensure that programs and initiatives. identify what has worked and what has not. Which customer bases are responding and which are underdelivering? are there geographic issues to be addressed within your plan? Step Two: Customer Research if there are questions about the motivations and attitudes that core customer groups have about solar power. are designed to create a call to action and move customers towards the sales process. Step Four: Marketing Strategies How will the solar program reach its objectives? this report suggests that Cost. large commercial customers. Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . a customer research project and market analysis will identify the opportunities and barriers that must be addressed in the marketing plan. might include offering financial tools that reduce the high out-of-pocket costs for solar installations. solar programs may want to rely on an outside resource such as an advertising agency or marketing consulting group to help with this aspect of the plan. as well as communications and promotions. or institutional solar installations. Reliability. a marketing strategy to address reliability may include raising visibility of solar in the marketplace. the examples cited in this report from solar stakeholders across the country are examples of marketing tactics. all key stakeholders across the organization should review the marketing plan while in development to ensure that it is addressing the right issues and to ensure buy-in. Inertia and Message all must be addressed in an effective marketing plan. a marketing plan is a living. residential.How to Begin marketing is a problem-solving activity. it is also critical that implementation challenges be coordinated with appropriate personnel to ensure that adequate resources and timeframes are accounted for. such as low-income housing.

their approaches may be a useful source of problemsolving initiatives for cities and states looking at their own solar marketing challenges. and hitting the right messages? are there ngo’s and other stakeholders in our market that we should be aligning with to advance our goals and leverage our investment? How do we overcome inertia and help push interested customers to act? How do we create more visibility for solar in our market? are there high visibility locations. these cities are engaged in active partnerships with solar companies.solaramericacities. with the ultimate goal of persuading consumers to purchase solar energy systems. county and state agencies. understanding what problems need solving and how best to address them is at the heart of the solar marketing plan. municipal. state solar program managers must view themselves as a critical part of the solar sales process. ngo’s and universities to identify and remove market barriers and encourage solar sales to residential and commercial customers. Clean Energy Group l  l S m a r t Solar Marketing Strategies . including: • • • • • • • • • How are new customers learning about solar? should we do more to help? Where are our best opportunities? are we providing consumers with valueoriented financial offerings that make solar more affordable? are consumers aware of the new financial approaches that we offer? are we adequately promoting the value and affordability of solar? is it prominently displayed on our website? are we targeting the right audiences in our market to achieve our objectives? Have we left any core audiences untouched? do we understand the consumer barriers to purchasing solar that are specific to our market? should we initiate research to advance our understanding and the effectiveness of our activities? Have we done an inventory of communications materials to ensure that we are speaking with one voice. and where product information is presented to consumers. when.Smart Solar Marketing Strategies C o nC l u S i o n effective marketing guides how. there are examples of effective solar marketing activities all over the country to draw upon. utilities. through grants from the doe. messages that connect on a financial or value level are most likely to succeed. promoting one brand.gov/ as solar programs begin to think like marketers.energy. therefore. they can assess “how they’re doing” by asking a series of questions to determine whether solar marketing efforts are on the right track. an important source of new programs and initiatives comes from the department of energy’s solar america Cities program where 25 cities have become incubators for new solar marketing ideas. www.

etc) that we should be working with to increase interest in solar power? • are we cross promoting energy efficiency and solar energy to maximize interest in both? • are we creating a database of consumers and are we using that database effectively? as states increasingly compete with each other for green jobs and clean economies.personalities or opportunities that will increase penetration? • do we have a sufficient group of installers in place? Will we need more? How can we attract them? • do realtors understand the value of solar and know how to speak about it effectively? • is there a role for traditional and new media in our marketing mix to build awareness? • are there innovative ways to utilize earned media beyond press releases and ribbon cuttings to increase interest in solar? • are there other solar partners (utilities. chambers. Clean Energy Group l  l C l e a n Energy State Program Guide . being savvy solar marketers becomes more important than ever. sports venues. and by creating a plan that provides a comprehensive approach to solar marketing. cities and towns. trades. solar programs will maximize their investment in solar incentives. and expand the customer base for solar energy throughout their markets. By asking these questions.

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Clients included: smartpower. and the Board of the u. mark was senior attorney and vice president with the Conservation law Foundation of new england. Catch neighborhood Housing. . mark also is executive director of the Clean energy states alliance (Cesa).s. He also serves on the Waitsfield development review Board. mark serves on the Board of the Vermont public interest research group. lyn has over 25 years of marketing and advertising experience including 18 years at arnold Worldwide. a multi-state coalition of state-based renewable energy programs working together to advance clean energy markets. offshore Wind Collaborative. the Board of the national Wind Coordinating Collaborative.A b o uT Th E Au T h o rS Lyn Rosoff. the pew Charitable trusts. SmartPower Principal Author lyn rosoff is deputy director for smartpower and has served as director of marketing for the past two years. leading smartpower’s consumer research efforts. public policy and advocacy. business partnerships. a marketing consultancy practice focusing on nonprofit organizations. lyn currently serves as Vice president of the Board of directors of the united Way of the greater seacoast and is past Chair of the Board of the greater Boston Food Bank. united Way of mass Bay. the investment Committee of the Vermont Clean energy development Fund. the John merck Fund. and abroad through creative financing. star island Corporation and World team sports. For 12 years lyn was president of second Wind enterprises. Clean energy group (Ceg) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the use of clean energy technologies in the u. Clean Energy Group Contributing Author and Editor mark sinclair is Vice president of the Clean energy group and has been working on energy and environmental issues in the public interest for two decades. Mark Sinclair. prior to Ceg.s. He also has served as general counsel to the state of Vermont’s environmental agency.

SmartPower wants to educate consumers about ways they can conserve energy in their day-to-day lives. In 2001. These groups believed that renewable energy needed the same consumer marketing techniques that traditional consumer brands use. Community Organizing SmartPower builds partnerships with utility companies. municipalities. SmartPower also provides marketing tools to local organizations so they can market clean energy in their communities Contact: Lyn Rosoff. advertising. private foundations and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund founded SmartPower. public relations. This research is especially important when 80% of consumers say they believe renewable energy is better than energy produced from fossil fuels and they are willing to spend more to have it.SmartPower is a national. renewable energy and energy efficiency.W. state agencies.smartpower. SmartPower spreads its message through marketing. nonprofit marketing organization that promotes clean. Research SmartPower conducts research to identify why consumers do not make choices towards a clean energy and an energy efficient lifestyle. N. DC 20036 Phone: 202-775-2040 Email: LRosoff@smartpower. a group of forward-thinking. promotion.org www. In addition to helping consumers choose clean renewable energy sources. SmartPower works on three key fronts to advance this mission. SmartPower’s goal is for the nation to produce more clean energy while using less energy. blogging and social networking. SmartPower’s award-winning marketing campaigns have created unprecedented demand for wind. SmartPower has recently expanded its focus to include energy efficiency and conservation. Deputy Director SmartPower 1120 Connecticut Avenue. clean energy funds and community groups to promote clean energy to consumers at a grassroots level. Suite 1040 Washington. solar and hydropower. Marketing SmartPower uses its research to construct targeted marketing campaigns to convince consumers to make the switch to clean energy and energy-efficient habits. renewable energy.org . but less than 3% actually purchase clean.

that are responsible for over $6 billion in clean energy funds.cleanegroup. information sharing and multi-state strategies to deploy clean energy technologies.s.Clean Energy Group (Ceg) is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to increase the use of clean energy technologies in the u. business partnerships. is supported by the state clean energy funds.cleanenergystates. Ceg works with state and nonprofit officials from across the u.statesadvancingsolar. a nonprofit assisting its member clean energy funds and programs in research.org printed on recycled paper.org www.org www. public policy and advocacy. Ceg also works with public officials in europe interested in trans-atlantic efforts to build clean energy markets.s. including its work through Cesa. We invite you to learn more about Ceg and its projects at the following websites: www. the John merck Fund. and internationally through innovative financing. © 2009 Clean energy group . Jane’s trust. new york Community trust. Ceg manages the Clean energy states alliance. and others. Ceg. and by major foundations including the annenberg Foundation.