A two-time Inc. 5000 listee, Freedom Forever (No. 53 on the 2020 Top Solar Contractors list) is a quickly growing company. After almost tripling its employee count in two years, the 600+-employee, multi-state residential solar dealership decided it was time to step up its marketing. New VP of marketing hire Julianne Ribarits immediately took on a big project — a full-length infomercial.
“When I came in, I didn’t have any solar experience, so how would I like to be told about solar? It’s nice to have that experience because then you can relate more with the customers as to what’s confusing and what needs to be explained,” she said. “The infomercial is an amazing way to tell a deeper story.”
The 30-minute infomercial features customer testimonials and employee interviews alongside a whiteboard explanation of solar and the installation process. Freedom Forever also scored a celebrity spokesperson — Richard Karn from “Family Feud” and “Home Improvement” fame.
“When we were able to do the shoot with him and have the team there, it was almost like this perfect utopian moment,” Ribarits said. “We’re all there to do something positive and everyone was just so great to work with. It was an amazing couple of days to shoot.”
While Freedom Forever had done some basic customer videos and social media content in the past, the company knew it needed a larger partner to pull off a professional infomercial. Video marketing agency Envision Response was instrumental in getting Freedom Forever’s message across. A script was finalized once Karn signed on as the talent, and filming began in February 2020 before being interrupted by COVID-19 shutdowns. Customer testimonials were gathered from Arizona and Nevada residents before the shutdown, and Ribarits said they will add in customer stories from Illinois and Texas once it’s appropriate.
“Even with a one-minute spot, you can only say so much. But with the infomercial, it’s almost like a mini documentary,” she said. “You can illustrate answers to questions and show real examples of real customers benefitting from solar. I don’t think people realize [solar] is not a typical product. It’s very personal and customizable. So to be able to show that process has been helpful.”
In addition to more easily explaining solar in its dealership areas, Freedom Forever uses the infomercial to advance one of its company values: disruption.
“One of our values is to disrupt the industry and bring this transparency to it. It’s been fun to lift the veil on the industry and lead with education,” Ribarits said. “We illustrate how a customer can lock into their electric rate by going solar, and you can’t really do that in an ad. So we broke down the math.”
Infomercials are a great way to gain new business, but Ribarits said this was only an option for Freedom Forever to take once it had scaled to its larger size.
“[CEO Brett Bouchy] has done an amazing job of making things very efficient. He focused on operations and excellent installation, making sure we could take the amazing branch we had and scale that to different locations. Being able to efficiently scale fast gave us that room to do an opportunity like this,” she said. “The more locations we have, the more important it is to be more national rather than advertising in just a single market. We had to grow up first and become the company we are now before we went to market.”
This story was featured exclusively in our 2020 Top Solar Contractors issue. See the issue and full list of top U.S. solar installers here.