It’s not what we say, it’s what they hear

What should we say to get more people to adopt solar?

February 9, 2020 · 1-minute read

Which message do you think is more effective?

The words that work in our marketing may not be what we think. Are you adventurous enough to take a two-question poll and discover this for yourself?

Spoiler alert!

Researchers delivered those messages to middle-class homeowners in the neighborhoods of San Marcos, California, once a week for a month, asking them to reduce their energy consumption.

At the end of the month, the “fellow neighbors” message generated 3.5x as much energy savings as the others.

We often believe that our strongest motivator is economic self-interest. Even the homeowners were wrong, guessing the “fellow neighbors” message was least effective.

Why might this be? It comes down to feasibility.

If we tell homeowners that they *could* save money, it doesn’t mean they would.

Learning that their neighbors are conserving energy leaves no doubt that it’s feasible. When they see it’s realistic, they feel it’s doable.

Rather than talk about energy conservation, environmental responsibility, or saving money, what if we give homeowners social proof that solar is feasible?

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Nolan, J. M., P. W. Schultz, R. B. Cialdini, N. J. Goldstein, and V. Griskevicius. 2008. “Normative Social Influence Is Underdetected.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 34: 913–23.

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