Whenever EcoGeneration speaks to solar installers around Australia we always get the impression they are so busy running around on rooftops or packing up the van for another job that they don’t have any time to think about how they market themselves.

It’s a shame, because many installers are very passionate about PV and they have a lot of wisdom to share. If the message doesn’t get through, however, it won’t be heard.

We were pondering this one day when we were distracted, as usual, by something flashy on the web … an animation which shows the running race between countries as solar PV has exploded into the mainstream over the past 30 years.

The clever chap who created the animation is Lucian Wu, who founded web development business Creative Nurds specifically to help solar installers have better websites. We gave Lucian a call to get his story.

When did you get so interested in solar?

I became interested in solar when I realised mass electric vehicle adoption is imminent, and the best way to power them is with solar panels. This interest became a passion to drive change when I continued to hear that right-wing politicians still refuse to acknowledge climate change is real. However, I’m immensely excited for the future of solar as even the most ardent supporters of fossil fuels cannot ignore that solar is now the cheapest source of energy in most countries in the world. 

Tell us a little bit about Creative Nurds.

Creative Nurds helps solar installers attract more customers with their website. Over 700 solar installers in Australia have gone broke since 2011. This can leave many homes without warranty support and the subsequent negative sentiment on the solar industry that rises from it. Our goal is to ensure no more solar installers join that list. 

What are the secrets to making one solar installer’s website better than another?

I like to make it simple to remember with the four Ds.

  • Differentiate yourself: The solar industry in Australia is saturated with thousands of installers. In order to cut through, you must be able to find a small niche for yourself, reduce the number of competitors and communicate your specialised offering. Be meaningfully different or make a guarantee that is hard to copy. 
  • Don’t show costs: Showing costs to a potential customer asks them to see you as a commodity and not an expert. Once you are no longer seen as an expert, you become less trustworthy and are less likely to win the business.
  • Demonstrate empathy: Address your customers’ pain points. Pain points are personal struggles that your target audience feels but may not have spoken about. Once you are able to articulate their struggles and fears better than they can, you are far more likely to gain their trust. 
  • Drive visitors to a call to action: Each page, including your home page, should have one clear and obvious goal. Visitors on your site are looking for a guide to help them solve their problems. Once they’ve decided that you are their guide, they need a next step. That next step could be submitting an email address in exchange for some valuable piece of information, or booking an appointment.

Do you think installers understand how people research and buy solar?

I believe that a large portion of installers understand the shift from traditional advertising to having an online presence with either a website or social media.

Many are acutely aware that consumers are much smarter these days and almost certainly read reviews on forums (whirlpool.net.au) or quoting websites (solarquotes.com.au) before making an informed decision. 

What do some of them get wrong?

Some installers still believe that price is the most important factor for a consumer in selecting a solar installer. Around 30% of solar business’ websites show pricing above the fold on their home page. 

Some also believe that using “Tier 1” panels and inverters means that they are meaningfully different from their competitors. 

Some businesses believe that claiming immense capabilities automatically translates to expertise or experience. For example, they show that they are able to cater for all areas of solar installations, such as homes, schools, offices, factories, farms, retrofits, etc. In fact, the opposite is true.

If you weren’t so good at websites would you really want to be an installer?

I can add more value in front of a computer than climbing on a roof with cables in my hands. If I can’t work on websites for any reason, I can see myself as a project manager or an engineer designing the systems.