Let’s face it: No oNe decides oN a whim to put a $20,000 photo voLtaic (pv) system oN his or her rooftop. with few exceptions, selling solar technologies is a challenge for business owners trying to find their niche. for small startups, there are often limited resources to put toward traditional television, radio or print media advertising campaigns. cutting-edge marketing know-how may be lacking
too — in the early going, few businesses can afford employees devoted to the task.
fortunately for the business owner today, public perception of solar energy is strong. according to
a survey conducted for the american solar energy society ( ases.org) last year by the shelton Group
( sheltongroupinc.com), a sustainability and energy-efficiency-focused advertising agency, more than 50
percent of american consumers say they are considering or plan to consider solar energy options in the next
five years. seventy percent believe more solar development should be a priority for the united states.
despite the continued interest in solar technologies, marketing can be tricky. in today’s weak economy,
green is the color of money, not energy-efficiency. consumers do not always see immediate benefits, and
it may take years for energy savings to pay back the initial investment. it’s not necessarily an easy sell.
targeting the right market segment can be a problem too. for example, while we would
expect people who strongly support green building initiatives to be likely buyers of solar energy
systems, they are no more likely than the average person to invest in at-home energy improvements, according to “driving demand for home energy improvements,” a recent report on
of Solar Energy
In a survey of American consumers, the
Shelton Group ( sheltongroupinc.com)
asked what consumers would do if they
were president of the United States and
could allocate funds to only one energy
source. The top choice for funding was
Top Five Energy Sources for Funding
Solar – 39%
Wind – 20%
Nuclear – 12%
Natural Gas – 9%
Clean Coal – 7%
Richard Crume ( firstname.lastname@example.org) works as an environment engineer and teaches a university course on air
pollution and energy efficiency at North Carolina A&T State University. Hana Crume ( email@example.com), a
recent graduate of the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University, is manager of online media marketing for Comdata Corp. Mike Koshmrl ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is SOLAR TODAY’s assistant editor.