#MarketingSolar Podcast: Tips for Using Faraday to Reach Solar Prospects

Introduction

Welcome to the Marketing Solar Podcast Series, hosted by Glenna Wiseman of Identity3. We are working with Energy Trust of Oregon on this Solar Marketing Training Program. It’s designed to help solar contractors reduce marketing and customer acquisition costs.

This podcast topic is: Tips for Using Faraday to Reach Solar Prospects.

The podcast features Scott Pellegrini of Faraday, a customer recruiting platform. The podcast includes tips to utilize the Faraday platform and prospect related data more effectively to reach solar prospects including:

  • Reduce Solar Customer Acquisition Costs Through Better Targeting
  • Faraday Qualifies for Energy Trust Business Development Funds
  • Tips to Use Faraday for Solar Marketing
  • Geo-Targeting Residential Solar Prospects
  • Tips to Help Solar Marketers Generate More Leads with a “Make Me Feel Special” Strategy
  • Applying Energy Use Data for Solar Prospect Targeting

We want to thank Energy Trust of Oregon for their vision and support helping solar contractors reduce customer acquisition costs through more efficient marketing.

Podcast Transcript

faraday logoWelcome to the Marketing Solar Podcast Series. I’m Glenna Wiseman of Identity3. We are working with Energy Trust of Oregon on this Solar Marketing Training Program. It’s designed to help solar contractors reduce marketing and customer acquisition costs.

Our topic this month, in the solar marketing training series for installers, is efficient campaign activation. We’re going to tackle opportunities to increase campaign reach through co-op and business development funds, and we’re also looking at tools to help you increase the efficiency of your marketing campaigns. So in other words, let’s get more money into your campaigns. Then let’s get the most bang for the buck for the dollars you do have.

In this show, these two themes come together. We’re talking today with Scott Pellegrini of Faraday. Faraday is a customer recruiting platform. It can be utilized to reach more solar prospects. We will address the tool or efficiency theme, and Faraday also qualifies for energy trust business development funds for qualifying solar contractors. Welcome to the show Scott.

Scott: Thanks Glenna. I’m excited to be here with you.

Reduce Solar Customer Acquisition Costs Through Better Targeting Identity3Reduce Solar Customer Acquisition Costs Through Better Targeting

Glenna: Excellent. All right. So Scott, tell us a little bit about Faraday and how it really does help solar installers reach more customers?

Scott: Sure, yeah. Faraday is a data driven marketing software platform. We help solar installers reduce customer acquisition costs through better targeting. At the corporate platform, a database of nearly 100 million residential US households and multiple terabytes of data about the property itself, about the household occupants.

Our solar installers use the platform to identify households who are most likely to go solar based on a combination of segmentation and predictive modelling. So, say you’re an installer who operates in the Portland metro area, or really anywhere in Oregon or in the Unites States for that matter, you could for example use Faraday to identify those households whose roof is site suitable. Where the homeowner has the financial wherewithal to make the investment, and has an overall propensity to invest in solar based on the fact that they look most similar to your prior customers.

Once you’ve identified these households, Faraday can provide you details to allow you to market to those people. Whether its name and address for mailing and door knocks, or for running digital campaigns on channels like Facebook.

Faraday Qualifies for Energy Trust Business Development Funds

Glenna: Awesome, okay. So, that’s a lot of information. Let’s start with is there a budget size or an amount that installers need to have in mind to use Faraday effectively?

Scott: Yeah, that’s a great question. Faraday is a subscription based model, so it really only makes sense to use if you have a marketing budget in place and regularly do consumer marketing, whether it’s canvasing, direct now, digital display ads, etc.

Generally, the starting point to work with us would be $6,000 over the course of the year, but as you mentioned there is a discount if you are an Energy Trust of Oregon trade ally contractor.

Glenna: Excellent, and I believe that’s 30% or so, correct?

Scott: Correct. Yeah, I’m sorry. No, 10% on the subscription to the platform and 30% on the actual execution of the marketing.

Glenna: Okay, great. Well that’s a great detail. Okay, so I am an installer in Oregon or another part of the country, and I have some work to do to get ready to use the Faraday platform. I’ve looked at it and we’ve talked before. There is some advance work that I need to have ready to go in order to use the Faraday platform effectively.

Can you tell us a little bit about what are the kinds of things that solar installers need to have in place? You’ve touched on they need to have some kind of budget, which makes sense. What other kinds of things do they need to have in place in order to really get the most bang for their buck on Faraday?

Tips to Use Faraday for Solar MarketingTips to Use Faraday Effectively for Solar Marketing

Scott: Slight correction there, we really try to make getting going with the Faraday platform as easy as possible. The only real qualification is that you are doing some consistent direct consumer marketing.

If you do have some direct consumer marketing going already, getting going pretty simple, pretty quick on our end. That said, as you mentioned, if you have customer personas or some historical customer data, you want to share with us, all the better, but it’s definitely not a requirement to get started.

Glenna: Okay, so you can basically just target a geographic area that you maybe have an install in already. Maybe you’ve got one lawn sign up in that area. You can target that area to get more households like the one you just sold.

Scott: Correct. Yeah. The real power of the platform, we have a pretty massive third party data set, the dimensions around property, demographic and psychographic attitude and elements. The real power of that third part data set is we can also wrap that around the first party data an installer could bring to the platform and allow them to learn more about their historic customers, but also make predictions based on that historic customer base to find more people like them who they’ve sold to in the past.

Geo-Targeting Residential Solar Prospects Identity3 TwitterGeo-Targeting Residential Solar Prospects

One of the really powerful tools within the platform as you just mentioned is plotting those customers on the map itself, being able to take advantage of that neighbor effect of going solar by doing some proximity or radius marketing in their geo-targeting as well.

Glenna: I think that that’s a very strong feature here, because if I’m already rolling branded trucks in a neighborhood, and I’ve got lawn signs up and I’ve got all those elements of signage going on in an install, maybe I’m the first in the neighborhood if you’re lucky enough to be that, then you should jump right on to the Faraday platform and start talking to as many of those other households that are right in that geographic area. Correct?

Scott: Absolutely, yeah. One of the powers of the platform is the ability to really customize your geography, whether it’s proximity to current installs, current customers, evangelist customers, proximity to a retailer, events marketing location, or even really custom territories that don’t fall within geopolitical boundaries. If you want to input a list of zip codes, great. If you wanted to go by county designation, great. Maybe you want to look at an electric service provider territory map instead, all these things that’s supportable from the platform.

Glenna: You just mentioned a really important piece here, because if you know of an incentive program that’s offered in a particular utility geographic area, then you can be targeting with a message that’s specific to that incentive. I’m sure that you see sellers doing that all the time, right?

Scott: Absolutely. Yeah, you can really use the platform. You could be an installer that has the national footprint, but with some of our geographic targeting tools you could really hyper localize wherever you go.

Glenna: Hyper localize, okay listeners. That’s a really great term for us to be thinking about here, because sometimes these data tools can be overwhelming to small and medium size installers.

Breaking it down and saying okay, if you know that you’ve got a customer, and or an advocate that maybe will put up lawn signs, you’re rolling trucks in this area, you want to reach this specific, targeted area, or you want to go after an incentive program in order to get as many new customers involved in that incentive program, then these are pretty basic things that you can know of that aren’t too difficult to get started with Faraday. Any others that you can think of, Scott, that you’re seeing installers use effectively?

Scott: Time and again we see in both our research and our work with clients to date, is once you’ve used the platform to identify that lowest hanging group, if you will, those people that not only have the criteria you need for them to qualify to become a customer, but also your propensity model shows a high likelihood that they’ll actually convert. Once you’ve identified that audience or that universe of prospects, the real power of the platform is helping you reach those people in a multi-channel, or omni-channel cadence if you will.

What we see time and again is a strategy that leverages two, three, four channels to reach the same household. So maybe something in the mail to familiarize that household with your brand, followed by a phone call, maybe a Facebook ad that targets those same occupants of the household, a digital display ad until they actually convert, because as we know we’re all different and people like to be engaged in different ways.

Glenna: We’ve been talking about campaign creative development within the auspices of the solar marketing training series. Here you mentioned customer personas. Here’s a really important place in which, okay, now I know that I’ve got a certain geographic or utility incentive area that I want to target.

Now let’s layer over that the customer persona information so that I’m getting the right demographics, and layer on top of that the creative. Because that creative needs to have the right messaging, the right imagery in order to reach effectively all of those households that I’ve now targeted through the platform.

Now the Faraday platform does not do the creative for you, that’s not part of what you do, is that correct?

Scott: Yes, correct. We stopped just short of that. We sit at the very top of the funnel really building those efficiencies at the top. We have some great partnerships to make execution really seamless and efficient, but the actual creative messaging and design is on the installer, or working with some of the great third parties that you guys have been talking about.

Glenna: Okay, excellent. Well that was a nice plug there Scott. Okay.

Tips to Help Solar Marketers Generate More Leads with a “Make Me Feel Special” Strategy Identity3 TwitterTips to Help Solar Marketers Generate More Leads with a “Make Me Feel Special” Strategy

What I think what we’re seeing here is that if I’m an installer in the Oregon, Washington area, or any of the other states of our wonderful nation, if I know who I’m talking to, if I have information based on the customers that I’m already successful with, the customer types, if I build customer personas based on that, then the third party groups that you work with have basically a lot of information that they need to help with the creative for the Facebook, the digital, the post cards, the door hangers, all of that kind of thing. Correct?

Scott: Absolutely. I think we all transmit on a channel called Make Me Feel Special, which kind of translates to… Nobody wants to be treated like a robot. To the extent that you’re able to really craft a message that hits that individual, that individual versus just everyone with the same message, as you guys have been talking about, plenty of research that suggests that’s far more effective in turning them from a prospect to a customer.

Glenna: Okay, well that’s a perfect example because now what you’re talking about is take the data, take the technology and layer that with a creative, customized, demographic-specific message that, as you said, makes that prospect feel special and that you’ve really worked through all of those kinds of layers of the campaign to make sure that you’re really reaching those customers. What your platform does is really make identifying who we should be talking to quite easy.

Scott: Exactly. Not to confuse listeners at all, that’s really our primary purpose here. To help you identify those customers most likely to qualify, and also most likely to convert. As far as actually engaging those customer, we leave execution on the installer themselves or their partnerships for that outreach. What we hope to do is find them the most likely best fits as starting point.

It can be very simple. It can be very turnkey. We certainly have several clients who do send a very targeted marketplace one message through several channels, and then certainly we have some more advanced clients who might really pull very hyper targeted lists and customize their messaging a little further. We can support any and all and everything in-between.

Glenna: Let’s talk for a minute about what I’ve been seeing lately in the industry trades, which is the day of only communicating the financial benefits of going solar. In other words, that the industry has gobbled up or worked through those customers that are primarily driven by the zero down message. Do you see that as, in the creative that your clients are working with, do you see that as a trend? That more of the other benefits, the value propositions in solar are being communicated?

Scott: Absolutely. We’ve seen that there’s several messages that can resonate. There’s certainly people with a propensity for green initiative, so going green and going solar versus saving green in the form of currency and going solar. I think both messages can certainly resonate. I think there has been a tendency… we have to keep in mind people get a little ahead of themselves with the stronger curve of solar. We’re still very early in this marketplace and there’s a lot of new organizations working with them in space. I think there is evolution in the messaging, as you mentioned, maybe getting away from such a financial directed message.

I think at the end of the day, really, that’s a little bit outside of our wheelhouse to be quite honest. We really don’t see ourselves that was as a consultant for what the best messaging is for the customer they’re trying to reach. We see our role as finding the best customers for their business based on their historic customer base and also the third party data elements we can bring to the table.

Applying Energy Use Data for Solar Prospect Targeting Identity3 TwitterApplying Energy Use Data for Solar Prospect Targeting

Glenna: Let’s talk a little bit about those other data sets and sort of think outside the box.

In California, where a lot of my experience is in terms of residential solar marketing, one of the things that we did early on was look for households who had pools. Pools and Jacuzzis, because those we’re really big energy hogs and customers really wanted to use those pools and Jacuzzis and AC systems in hot areas without guilt, and also have it not break the bank. That provided a really good leverage point in terms of discussing.

What other kinds of things can the Faraday platform bring in that could really customize that target household?

Scott: It’s interesting you mention targeting for pools. That is actually one of the property criteria available on Faraday platform. Kind of in that same realm, energy use proxies are certainly very relevant to solar if you are using that message of saving money on your electric bill, for instance. Looking at the size of the home can be relevant. Even the value of the home, we’ve seen studies that suggest that correlates with energy. But on the behavioral characteristics we also find elements like whether there’s a propensity for gardening, for instance.

We have clients that find that they have a pretty strong customer base on the technical side of things, so maybe you want to target people who have made consumer electronics purchases in the past.

There’s several elements you can use at a high level to pick the geography that has the best saturation of the elements that match your outreach. The real power of the platform is finding those individual households and those contact points to reach out to them.

Glenna: Well, one of the things that just is kind of right there is the electric vehicle market, EV’s. When a household makes a purchase for electric vehicle, it opens up a whole language set around energy use. It may be one of the main door openers, if you will, for solar, because the customers who are buying EV’s are really looking for other ways, and this is of course not new information in the market, but that’s another way that we can segment households is by looking at electric vehicles. Is that something that the Faraday platform can do now, or plans to do at some point in the future?

Scott: We’ve looked at that. We don’t currently have that data set on the platform as-is. We have hundreds of data at our fingertips within the platform. Any extra data that a user or a client or installer can bring to the platform to help their work, we can layer in there as well and utilize in their outreach to the extent of if somebody has access to that, great, bring it in and we’ll work with that as well.

Glenna: Okay. Excellent. Well it sounds like you all are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the ability to, from a big data point of view, describe the use of electricity in a particular household and their applicability for solar. That’s very exciting and if installers are not using the Faraday, or testing the Faraday now, they need to be paying attention I would think.

You mentioned the Energy Trust business development funds being available for solar contractor allies that are involved with Energy Trust. And just a note for listeners, that information is at EnergyTrust.org/businessdevelopment. Do your firm’s services qualify for other programs in the state? Or in the country?

Scott: Yeah, occasionally it’s part of our Department of Energy’s Sunshot initiative. We’ve had some co-opted funding opportunities there. Currently we actually don’t generally participate in promotional programs for the platform itself, so honestly the Energy Trust of Oregon opportunity is kind of a rare thing for us. So, pretty good opportunity for their trade ally contractor network, for sure.

Glenna: Well that’s awesome to hear that Energy Trust of Oregon is again on the leading edge of new things that can help installers reduce their customer acquisition costs. Scott, please tell us how our listeners can reach you and or the Faraday team.

Scott: The best way I think for many of us is email. We are no exception, so please never hesitate if you have questions. We always welcome the opportunity to offer a demo to you and or your team. You can do that by visiting our website Faraday.io and hitting “Request a Demo” or reaching out directly and my name is Scott, as I mentioned, S-C-O-T-T, @Faraday, F-A-R-A-D-A-Y, .io. That’s probably the easiest way to get in touch if you care to have a conversation.

Glenna: Excellent. All right. Well Scott, thank you for joining us. I’m Glenna Wiseman with Identity3 working with Energy Trust of Oregon, and today we’ve had the pleasure of talking with Scott Pellegrini of Faraday, a customer recruiting platform helping solar installers reach more prospects.

Subscribe to the Marketing Solar Podcast Series for more tips and advice to build your solar installation business, and follow us on Twitter via #marketingsolar.

This podcast has been brought to you by Identity3, working with Energy Trust of Oregon. For more information, go to identity3.com.

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Your #MarketingSolar Podcast Host

Glenna Wiseman is a solar industry marketing veteran who brings the installer’s point of view to marketing communications. Her solar marketing expertise dates from 2007. For five of those years, she led the marketing initiatives for a California based solar installation firm. Glenna Wiseman has worked to build integration companies for more than 10 years, resulting in a holistic and enterprise-level perspective on marketing for solar installers. She is the principal of Identity3, delivering vibrant marketing to empower a sustainable world. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.