Over the past few months, we’ve covered customer acquisition strategies ranging from door-to-door canvassing to Home Depot partnerships. Here are some of the funniest/most unique marketing and lead generation tactics we came across while researching our latest report, U.S. Residential Solar PV Customer Acquisition.

1) In 2010, Sungevity launched a campaign to persuade President Obama to put solar on the White House -- offering, of course, to install the system free of charge. The campaign (read: marketing gimmick) included a video featuring Bo Obama’s solar-powered inauguration party. When the White House finally did get a solar installation in August, Sungevity was quick to respond with a press release applauding the president, though the installer of the system was never revealed.

2) Arizona-based Technicians for Sustainability took event marketing to a whole new level with this flash mob at a street fair in 2010.  The music selection was appropriate (“Let the Sunshine In”) but next time, we expect full choreography (see last year’s SolarEdge holiday video for inspiration).

3) If you’re a solar installer whose founder has familial connections with the country’s largest luxury electric vehicle company, you’re in luck! In the price calculator for Tesla’s first EV lease, inputting an electricity price greater than $0.15 per kilowatt-hour prompts a SolarCity ad to appear. SolarCity killed two birds with one stone: drawing leads with high electricity prices, as well as people who had already expressed interest in a lease.

4) Sunrun had perhaps the best-executed advertising campaign, created by San Francisco-based advertising firm Heat, which included billboards like the one below, commercials like this, and even an Instagram photo contest. The question is whether Sunrun’s branding actually paid off, or whether the company’s success stems from the lead-generation efforts of its installation partners.

5) After one of its van drivers was caught drunk driving on camera, American Solar Direct responded with this advertisement. (OK, this is obviously fake, but the California installer did make it onto national late-night TV, for better or worse.)

For more examples of slightly less exciting (albeit often more effective) marketing strategies, see GTM Research’s recently released report, U.S. Residential Solar PV Customer Acquisition: Strategies, Costs, and Vendors.


We’ll also be discussing residential solar customer acquisition at the U.S. Solar Market Insight conference December 10-11 in San Diego.