Solar Sippers

Sometimes the best way to examine how marketing works is to take on a case study. In this situation a group of people were talking about the issues of marketing a company which is "green". We began with the example of a website wanting to present itself as being "green."

One member mentioned that carbon footprints of servers arenít under an end userís control. This is true, just like for example the carbon footprint of a publisher isnít under an authorís control. However, take a look at Dyanís interview about getting her penguin book published -

Dyan deNapoli Penguin Interview

She says explicitly that part of why she chose the publishing house that she did was their green foundation. That is, a customer canít *change* the greenness of a given company they work with, but they certainly can *choose* a company based on that as part of the criteria.

Itís easy enough to change hosting companies. Iíve done it at least once a year, sometimes 3 times a year. The more that hosting companies make these things known, the more that people who care will select based on it. Itís just like all the people who stopped buying BP gas after the oil spill. They canít choose how Exxon or BP drill for oil - but they can certainly choose which company to do business with based on what they do know.

So with that base knowledge - that customers often do choose companies in part for green reasons - we moved on with the case study.

Tom of Solar Sippers runs a green company. He is like the green publisher or green hosting company. Heís competing against non-green companies which is certainly true! So being green is one of his prime assets and for many customers it will be a reason they buy from him. Therefore it should be something he plays up in every way possible. This is a key marketing point for him and a main reason people will chose him over his competition. This is a benefit, not a liability.

However when I google for "green bird bath" or "solar bird bath" Iím not finding Tom. So the main reason people would seek him out, those people canít find him. Looking at stats, far more people call these items "bird baths" vs looking for a "bird waterer".

We want to make sure that people who are seeking this eco-solution are finding Tom and his product. This is why they would choose him over the competition. The green / eco message has to be strong and constant on all the pages.

In terms of a blog and social networking, all of those are key forms of marketing that are necessary to help advertise a website and reach the target audience. So what would Tom blog about? Because his target audience are green bird lovers, then the answer would be all topics involving eco issues and birding issues. People love to forward statistics and quotes and tidbits of knowledge. So heíd blog about any news he heard about contaminated waterways, because that reminds people they need to provide fresh water. Statistics about birds and birders, people love that stuff. Stats about how much water a bird needs in a day. How bird watching reduces stress. And yes, occasionally, news about his latest model.

The key here is that heís not "pushing" his product any more than a rum ad says "Buy me buy me buy me!" A rum social networking campaign might talk about fun cocktails to be made with rum and fun rum songs. That draws in rum fans who then see what the product is too. The same thing needs to happen here. He needs to build up a fan base of green loving, bird loving people who enjoy his content, and then they all see he has a cool green bird watering system and itís perfect for them. They buy some and tell their friends.

What is some other brainstorming we can do? For example, itís spring when we did this case study, and his main page has snow scenes on it. Thatís probably not likely to draw buyers. So instead he should switch those out with summer images, and talk about why his watering devices are perfect for spring and summer situations. Heíll be in for a long wait if he waits for people to buy them because of ice reasons! (Except for Australians I imagine).

To go a step further, the main page is very unclear.

http://www.solarsippers.com/

There is no clear message of what the products are or even what the company is about. Even when you go to the Solar Sippers page it is challenging to figure out the products and what they do.

Hereís a site in a similar space, for eco gardening -

http://www.planetnatural.com/site/index.html

See how the message is clear - theyíre eco friendly, they have these specific products, here are the summaries, click to learn more? Users on the web need small blocks of text to read and absorb, and they can always click for further details. Itís like a book having pages, a website needs content segmented into pieces to help the reader digest them.

So if the main Solar Sippers hompage looked more like this, with a clear set of product links, each one clearly described, and with a much stronger green / eco message, plus the blog and social networking promotions in place, traffic would skyrocket.

What other easy changes could result in a boost in traffic?

I feel absolutely certain that if Tom redid his homepage to focus more clearly on summer "green bird baths" and used terms people would search on to find them, and had an active blog that talked about eco birding issues, that he could get onto Googleís top entries and boost sales by at least ten times in under a month.

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