When you fly into just about any city you will see hundreds of white commercial flat rooftops. These rooftops are just begging for solar panels to generate electricity for the building — and reflect the heat to reduce the air conditioning load. With the 30% investment tax credit and new depreciation rules, the economics are pretty good. Paybacks are often less than five years with immediate positive cash flow for financed systems.
But marketing solar to commercial customers is challenging. Often the building is leased, with utility payments made by the tenant — not the building owner. Although the installation of commercial rooftop solar is relatively straightforward, the marketing, sales and financing processes can be complex.
When I think of solar marketing I instantly think of Tor Valenza, AKA Solar Fred. He is the guy who has been wearing the hat for over ten years in the solar industry. Tor has build a terrific brand for himself, as well as a number of well known solar clients. Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show as Tor walks us through his five step program for commercial solar marketing.
Solar panels are commodities — not very different than the bottled water you find on a supermarket shelf. Granted some panels are more efficient, some cost less, some may be easier to install, and some may have better warranties. But to the average consumer — and for that matter experienced installer — there is really not much difference between one manufacturer’s panel compared to another.
So why are some companies selling more solar panels than others? To a large degree it is the solar marketing and sales efforts they make to reach their initial customers: solar installers. Generating awareness, interest and sales for solar panels — as well as inverters, racking and installation services — is a textbook marketing challenge.
There is one person in the industry who has carved out a reputation for himself when it comes to solar marketing: Tor Valenza (AKA Solar Fred). Tor literally hangs his hats these days as the Chief Marketing Officer at Impress Labs. Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show as Tor talks about the best (and worst) solar marketing practices at solar equipment companies, installers and financiers.
About The Energy Show
Barry Cinnamon has been blogging about the Solar Industry since 2007.
Barry hosts The Energy Show, a weekly 30 minute talk show that runs every Saturday at 1:30 PM on KDOW Radio AM in San Jose California.
Every week Barry provides practical money-saving tips on ways to reduce your home and business energy consumption.
Barry Cinnamon heads up Cinnamon Solar (a San Jose residential and commercial solar and energy storage contractor) and Spice Solar (suppliers of built-in solar racking technology). After 10,000+ installations at Akeena Solar and Westinghouse Solar, he’s developed a pretty good perspective on the real-world economics of rooftop solar — as well as the best products and services for homeowners, manufacturers and installers. His rooftop tinkering led to the development of integrated racking (released in 2007), AC solar modules (released in 2009), and Spice Solar (the fastest way to install rooftop solar modules).
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