By Sara Carbone, solar energy copywriter for Create Velocity
In a crowded marketplace full of solar contractors well aware of the usefulness of blogging, it’s important to use targeted information to differentiate yourself. Buyer personas help do that.
In this post I answer three main questions:
- What does a buyer persona have to do with my solar power blog?
- How can buyer persona data help me write posts?
- How can I apply this data to particular prospect profiles like homeowners, facility managers and CEOs?
The buyer persona and your solar power blog
A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal prospect. It’s a description of a hypothetical person that includes things like demographics and background, needs and concerns, and favorite ways of using the internet, having fun and shopping. It also has information on opinions about solar energy, keyword searches and, for the business buyer, responsibilities at work and who they interact with around buying decisions.
In solar there can be multiple personas: urban and suburban homeowners, business owners, facility managers, CFOs and government and educational administrators, etc. These profiles can be further segmented based on level of interest and depth of knowledge. Philip Hall of Borrego Solar also suggests considering factors like viability around financing and ability to service them based on where they live.
What does this have to do with your solar power blog? Well, the more specific and comprehensive your profiles, the easier it is to create blog content that speaks to them. And the more closely you address the needs and problems of each of your prospect types, the more they’ll see you as a trusted source of industry knowledge who really understands them. As a result, they’re more likely to turn to you when they’re ready to make the jump to solar. Overit calls developing your buyer persona the process of connecting “at the right time, in the right place, with the right message in the right place.”
The more closely you address the needs and problems of each of your prospect types, the more they’ll see you as a trusted source of industry knowledge who really understands them.
Rocket fuel for your solar power blog posts
Here are a number of tips for using buyer persona data to enhance your blog writing.
Know where they are in the buying process
Each stage of the buying process requires particular content. Beginning or awareness stage buyers need things like introductory information about basic facts and stats about solar and its benefits. You can debunk myths, give energy efficiency tips and and offer news about the industry.
Middle- or consideration-stage buyers want information on the various features of your services, product comparisons and case studies raving about your company. And later-stage buyers are interested in more heavily technical explanations that show your expertise and perhaps the lowdown on what a consultation with your company entails.
Keep selling but keep it simple
Your solar power blog content is largely for educating and helping prospects solve problems. It’s not the place to heavily pitch your services. However, if you include a call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each post that directs the prospect to take the next step it can be a way to gently move them further along the buying process. And the most effective CTA is suited to the persona profile you’re targeting in the post. It could be an offer for a consultation if this is someone at the later stages of buying or, for the prospect who needs more educating, it could be a download for an enticing special report that captures their contact info. Or you could include more than one CTA to give them options.
Speak to what businesses need
Your content for commercial prospects can address factors separate from those of most homeowners. For example, SunPower does a good job of offering blog posts targeting particular industries like schools and certain regional issues like state incentives.
Also, business buyers in larger companies tend to make decisions about something like solar based on committee. So the operations manager may need to consult with the CEO who needs to check with the board. That same operations manager needs information that shows management he can keep operating costs down and make large purchasing decisions methodically while the CEO needs material that addresses issues around company-wide vision and strategy in relation to other investments.
The operations manager may need to consult with the CEO who needs to check with the board.
Use formatting that engages
Your blog post should be formatted in a way that entices your chosen buyer persona:
- Title: This should align with a long-tail keyword this prospect would search for. It could directly answer a question
she wants answered like “Understand your solar financing options.”
- SEO headers and subheaders: These break up the post, make it easy to scan and should be specific enough to keep your persona reading. It’s the difference between “Going solar” and “Three reasons why universities are committing to solar.”
- High-quality images or videos: Visuals enhance your text and drive home your message. Sometimes a generic image of a solar panel works, but more specific ones can be even more effective. Examples are a carport photo at an auto dealership you’ve worked with, a short infographic on solar warranties or a photo of the CFO you interviewed for the case study.
- Block quotes: Quotes can be used to either highlight a terrific testimonial by an actual person or draw attention to an important or thought-provoking concept. These can range from a case study quote from the impressed CFO, insights about the latest trends in solar from industry authority Barry Cinnamon or the current stats on homeowner financing from a GTM report. Or it can pull a strong blurb from your own text in that post. Just make sure that the quotes are specific to the buyer persona you are targeting for that particular post.
- Language: Consider the kind of language and style that speaks most directly to that buyer persona. Homeowners seeking solar have been shown to prefer a casual tone that lacks hype, while a C-suite professional wants a more professional sounding tone. And using industry specific terms for the industries you are targeting works as well.
- Keywords: Do the research to integrate persona-specific short- and long-tail keywords in your posts. Auto dealers will be searching for information differently than the way a rural farm owner searches. Have a list for each persona (they can overlap) and, according to HubSpot, update it about every three months. Two good tools to use are Google AdWords (free) and SEMRush (for a fee).
Sara Carbone is a Seattle-based freelance solar copywriter for residential and commercial solar installers. She also curates content about the industry and writes about issues in solar for her blog and e-newsletter.