Western Washington is an area of the country widely known for cloudy skies. As the popularity of solar power grew around the country, residents of the Pacific Northwest tended to look the other way, incorrectly classifying solar as not for me. In 2013 as PSE and their 3Degrees support team set out to grow the program, they thought the misconception over solar could actually be used to their advantage.
The effort, coined “Year of the Sun,” was a year-long campaign that positioned solar energy at the core of its marketing and outreach efforts. Of course the resource was always positioned as one of a mix of fuels but by leading with highly recognizable solar, customers could more easily make the jump to what defines “renewables” and get one step closer to understanding the choice before them.
The campaign plan emphasized multiple impressions that built off of one another along with strict adherence to branding styles across all channels:
- Digital and print media (paid and earned)
- Direct marketing through the mail and bill package
- Person to person outreach
- Solar and sunshine themed thank you gifts
By the end of the year, the campaign reached over 100,000 account holders and resulted in 10,000 new PSE Green Power program participants – the greatest increase over a single year in the history of the program. It also earned media attention in several local publications, hundreds of views of the Solar Works video and new social media followers. Traffic to the green power web pages also increased by 58%.
Once target participation and expanded awareness goals were met, the campaign was deemed a success. Just the same, winning an award doesn’t hurt. In 2014 the campaign was recognized at the Renewable Energy Markets conference for its effort in building the green power market as the first ever winner of CRS’ Leadership in Green Power Education.
3Degrees outreach team attended hundreds of events ranging from farmers markets and chamber meetings; and knocked on thousands of doors.
PSE’s Green Power Program is one of the largest in the country and consistently appears on NREL Top Ten lists for participation and overall sales. 3Degrees has partnered with PSE on their Green Power Program since 2009. Since then program participation has increased by 21,000 new accounts. A number of tactics including direct marketing and outreach are used throughout the year to manage attrition and ensure growth.