As an environmental advocate, the choice to opt for solar power, or another form of clean energy, seems obvious. It’s almost a no brainer. After all, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of innovative, clean technology that will save you money in the long run, help maintain a better world for future generations and facilitate America’s goal of becoming energy independent?

Unfortunately, solar marketers have to work tirelessly to understand the diversity in consumer interest and make their customers see things our way. It turns out, the industry is doing something right–solar was the fastest growing energy source in the U.S. for 2012, increasing by a whopping 76% last year. The key to such a successful campaign lies in two words: target market. This is a basic marketing principle, extending well beyond the clean energy sphere. However, identifying sub-markets within your larger marketing audience is what will ultimately allow for the most rewarding solar marketing campaign.

Within the industry, the market is often broken down into four target sub-markets:

  1. Environmentalists
  2. Financial interests
  3. Technology wonks
  4. Energy Independence

Each category focuses on a different group with different unique interests drawing them in. But the most important element is the common denominator—a vested interest in supporting solar energy. The ultimate goal is to tailor your marketing campaign to reach their sweet spot.

Environmental Advocates

If you’re catering to an environmentally conscious crowd, you’ll want to highlight charts, facts and figures displaying the visibly positive impact solar energy has in reducing our carbon footprint and decreasing pollutants. This message should be illustrated by demonstrating the benefits of replacing dirty energy, such as oil, coal and the temperamental extraction of energy through fracking, mountain top removal and offshore drilling projects.

Financial Interests

Here, you’re playing a money game. You’re not going to waste time mentioning future generations, or the intrinsic value of our environment. This is when you lay out why solar is a great financial investment. They want to hear how it will increase their long-term ROI. In fact, an infographic published last year showed that 74% of those who go solar wouldn’t have done so without an economic incentive. Explain government incentives and how the cost of solar has dropped significantly in recent years. The future of solar is bright, and the smart and savvy businessperson will get in on the market now, while they can capitalize on the first-mover advantage.

Technology Wonks

The solar industry is one of the most innovative, quickly evolving sectors in the world of energy. Resources are constantly being poured into furthering research and continuing technological advancement. Explain how their photovoltaic systemcan now be monitored using mobile devices. Highlight the all American innovation that they can be a part of. Make a marketing campaign as inventive as the technology it’s selling.

Energy Independence

This consumer is focused on the allure of sovereignty from clean energy. Why pay rising, exorbitant energy bills to the utility each month, when you can be off the grid? Once solar panels are installed, the customer’s reliance on grid electricity, natural gas and oil will dramatically decrease. There’s nothing more sustainable than harnessing the power of the sun for energy. Your marketing focus: utility bills can soon become a thing of the past by seeking autonomy through energy independence. Here, you can often add the national security element for additional leverage.

All roads lead back to selling clean tech. It’s simply a matter of choosing the right path to follow. Be sure to take the time to hone in on whom you’re trying to reach. Personalization is paramount. It will have a dramatic effect on the success of your marketing campaign. Bottom line: know your audience.

Written by

Danielle is a partner and Senior Account Executive for Eco Branding. She is passionate about bringing her communications expertise to the cleantech industry. Danielle has over 7 years of public relations experience in different industries. She has a B.A. from the University of Maryland in Communication and Psychology with a focus in Public Relations. Danielle is a guest contributor for Renewable Energy World and Alternative Energy Magazine. Based in New York, Danielle enjoys hiking, camping, music and good beer!

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