As President of Solar Direct Marketing and Managing Partner of Encompass Leads, David oversees all lead generation and outbound call campaigns. David's team successfully manages campaigns for dozens of top companies in the following verticals: Solar Energy, De-Regulated Energy, Home Improvement, Health Insurance/Medicare, Merchant Cash Advance, Home Warranty, and others.
So when you go solar, you have a way to get out of that arranged marriage. You know, you have control and you have peace of mind knowing what your bill is going to be. So it's been a fire at 2020 is actually the biggest year for solar. So if solar is doing well, people are spending on copies of spending on ads and that's where we come into play. You know, we, we, we know we, we, we know which ads work. We know we have a smorgasbord of different leads. We have real-time exclusive leads. We have aged leads. We have shared leads. We have live transfers. We have survey leads. We have everything that kind of fits that pallet. So solar has been phenomenal. We're really excited and fortunate to be in this industry right now,
Speaker 2 (00:44):
On this episode of the rich ad or ad podcast. We have David president over at solar direct marketing. On this episode, David's going to dive into how the solar industry is solving present day problems in the energy race, how to source leads to the top companies in the United States, how to test leads and then ramp up those leads to achieve more success. And lastly, how campaigns in the solar industry differ from state to state. It's going to be a really interesting episode. Y'all so sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
Welcome to, or episode of the rich headquartered podcast is your host, Zach Johnson. And today we are talking about lead gen Legion to the tune of 50 to $75,000 a day in spend specifically in the solar industry. Today's guest is David stowed. ALAC the president of solar direct marketing and managing partner of encompass leads. David and I met at geek out events, uh, just a few weeks ago or during a little, uh, geek week session here. We had some amazing, uh, really some of the best media buyers in the world, I think go to that event. But, uh, since 2017, solar direct has been one of the top lead generators in the nation servicing seven of the top 10 solar companies in the U S and their leads have generated over a hundred million dollars in signed contracts. So without further ado, David, welcome to the show
Be here because I'd really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to a great show.
Yeah, man. So tell everybody a little bit about what's going on in the world of solar marketing and lead gen.
Yeah. Solar has been super, super hot the last few years. Uh, the new administration has only helped things. They've what they've done is they have extended tax credits for another two years to the tune of 26% by the federal government. So the beauty of it is that obviously the government is in favor of it and has, has, has legislation that's going to help give tax credits. Uh, people are going to take advantage of it. So, um, pretty much solar has been on fire and COVID, you know, it took the, the window out the sales for a few weeks back in March, early April, but it came back strong. And if you recall back in April and may you saw the stocks and stock markets and crush where you sold the stocks of home Depot, Lowe's all going up. You know, everybody was spending their time at Lowe's home Depot, home improvement, campaign or projects and stuff like that.
And they were also looking to save money on their electric bill. People want to take more control over their energy and they started to look into solar. And then what happened in Texas recently with the whole, um, issue with the, the, the climate change and people losing their electricity, a lot of snow over there. People also that had solar energy had solar panels, plus the battery backup system. They were able to keep electricity on. So there's a lot of favorable things getting favor of solar right now that are helping propel it. And people are clicking on ads. People see the ads on Facebook, uh, on native, on YouTube. They're clicking on it. They want to take control of their electricity. They, I always say, you know, when you, when you buy a home or wherever you live, you're kind of married to your electric company, right?
It's like I said, an arranged marriage that you didn't agree to. You you're forced to pay X amount per month. And then every month you don't know what your bill is going to be. It's like, it's like a surprise. But when you go solar, you have a way to get out of that arranged marriage. You know, you have control and you have peace of mind knowing what your bill is going to be. So it's been a fire at 2020 was actually the biggest year for solar. So if solar is doing well, people are spending, uh, copies of spending on ads. And that's where we come into play. You know, we, we, we know we, we, we know which ads work. We know we have a smorgasbord of different leads. We have real time exclusive leads. We have aged leads. We have shared leads. We have live transfers. We have survey leads. We have everything that kind of fits that pallet. So, uh, solar has been phenomenal. We're really excited and fortunate to be in this industry right
Now. Yeah. All the leads, all the kinds of leads anybody would ever want. Now playing in solar, you got to have some pretty, pretty deep pockets, uh, to play. I mean, it's not, um, I mean, it's pretty high ticket, uh, product. So you really got to know your numbers when scaling up those, those campaigns, or at least a brand suit, not so much on the lead gen side, but, um,
Speaker 5 (05:11):
Well, cool. So let's get into it, man. We'll break down this rich ad for us. What's working right now in the world of solar lead gen.
What's working right now. A lot of it has to do with the times. And I think what happened in Texas has really put a bright spotlight on this. Cause we know it's like every few months something's going around somewhere in the world or somewhere in the country where things get disrupted in terms of people's lives, you know, in Texas never had a big snowstorm like that in decades. Right. And all of a sudden, bam, it hits them and people are without electricity for a week. It was really a disaster. Right. So what what's working right now is our ads that show like Tesla power walls, or some battery backup systems. Like even Generac's those working a lot, people are clicking on it. So when you talk, you're not even, you don't even have to show the solar panels on those ads. You just talk about the savings you can get with solar taking control and also showing a picture of like a Tesla power wall. That's beginning a lot of attention recently, and it's been driving a lot of the, the, the leads. And then, you know, that changes. That's something that we toured with, uh, six to nine months ago and it was doing so, so, but recently it's been doing really well. And I think it has a lot to do with what happened at Texas and that being in the, in the media attention recently. So
You run this on all the different networks or like how, uh, what are the main networks that you can,
It's mainly, it's mainly social right now, social media, where we're doing, we're doing some stuff on YouTube, YouTube has been hit or miss it. Hasn't really worked that well, work our cost to generate at least like 10 times higher on YouTube also. Cause we just started, uh, but we're learning as we go along, but most of the success has been attributed to Facebook and Instagram.
Yeah. That's awesome, man. And so how does, uh, how does it work with, with your team there internally and walk us through a little bit about how, uh, how you go about selling these leads to these top seven of the 10, uh, solar companies in the U S
Yep. I'll take a little bit of a step back. So I'll tell you how I got into this because it's all related. So I have a big call center background call I've run call centers since 2005. And, uh, a lot of the people from the call center world. I know it seems like they tend to move into what the next hot thing is. A lot of them start to get into solar back in 20 15, 20 16, including myself. I had a team virtually setting appointments are around 2016 and then a couple of people I used to work well with me. They got into solar Paul centers and they need to lead. So that's the beauty of what we do is that we're not just a lead vendor. We we've been in call centers. I've been on the phone, you know, I've been on the phone for many years.
So I know what it's like for an agent to talk to a crappy lead. So we, we know that because of that, we CA we understand the in-depth of what's going on within the call center and truthfully truth be told there's, I don't really think there's such a thing as a crappy lead, unless it's a fraudulent lead, because we have these that, you know, you can pick up for, you know, 20, 30 cents that work, it's all a numbers game at the end of the day. But because of my background and having such an excessive call center background, and always treating people well, and people trusting me, that's how I got into the lead gen world. People would start asking me for leads. And then I just started getting to the bottom of the funnel. You know, we were, we started off setting appointments and we were pretty much brokering deals.
Uh, and we had affiliates generating towards us. And then we started doing things internally. So to answer your question, what we have is we have an internal media team that they spend money on Facebook and Instagram daily on YouTube as well. And we have affiliates that drive traffic to our landing pages as well. And then a lot of the, the business group really through my relationships, I just happened to have some very good relationships in the call center space. And then one thing leads to another, you do the right thing by one company, you get referrals, and then it just takes on a life of its own. And, uh, interestingly, one of my best clients who was at a top 10 solar copy, what was one of my, uh, doing a lot of volume with us, he wound up leaving and going somewhere else, uh, to a software company.
And he's referred me ton of clients because he has such success with me, you know? So it's really come down to doing the right thing, really understanding that you, your, your, your customer, your advertiser, what are their pain points, and from being in call centers, I understand the pain points. I understand when you don't have leads for your reps to call on the worst thing in the world, you understand when they're falling on beat up stuff, you know, the morale is down, but when they get a nice, you know, some nice exclusive lease or a nice list, it's like a shot in the arm. Right. And it just takes them off to the next level. So we have a very good understanding of both sides of the equation, you know, from the, for the buy side to the sell side. And I think that's what really separates us from a lot of other people in the industry.
Yeah. That's, that's awesome, man. Well, congrats on that success so far,
Speaker 5 (09:49):
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What is something that's totally bombed? I want to hear about your poor ed what's, uh, what's something that you're ashamed to talk about here.
Really what it is, it's something that was more of a, the way we targeted. So we target very broadly, uh, for solar. Um, we have done some things where we try to micro-targeted, it just doesn't work. It's just, it's a disaster when that happens. But going back to that, we had as are working very well, um, a good cost per lead for where we have, we show pictures of, of, of a family holding a check, uh, for a rebate. And a lot of states give rebates for solar. The government gives a rebate, a tax rebate, tax credit as well, if you qualify. But anyway, we had like them with a check of like a, a certain dollar amount. And then you have a house with panels in the background that was working very, very well. And then we were driving that to a landing page and it was converting very, very well.
And all of a sudden, like the costs went down in half, like it was doing better than ever. So I'm like, let's wrap the heck out of this program, uh, of this campaign. So it turned out the issue was that for some reason, we were targeting renters, you know, Facebook is, is, is good in that it was, it picked up that, Hey, for some reason, it thought it had to target renter. So half the people were getting where were renters, and then they weren't qualifying and it screwed up our KPIs. I mean, we normally have anywhere from a 20 to 30% appointment set rate on our leads. We, our cost went down big time, which was great, but the conversion went to crap. They went to like five, 7%. So, you know, we need to catch this for like I don't three to five days. And I had to pretty much just refund for those leads. So that, that sucked because we kind of, um, we, we, there, it was more of a landing page issue. We didn't put a filter there to, to net out those renters, but that was something where the ad wasn't horrible. Uh, it was more of good ad. It's just a way we weren't, we weren't filtering them out so bad. Um, so, so well, as we should have, and that's what caused all these issues on the backend,
Do you own a home?
Why is that? Well, this is what is on the land.
Are you a homeowner?
Right. But then what happened with, there was something where they're supposed to click when they hit, no, there was something in the backend of the landing page that didn't close with. People be filtered out. So they were coming through regardless. So we put out some checks, safety checks in place that, or prevent that from happening again. But that, that causes a lot of money. I mean, it wasn't, uh, it wasn't the best thing to communicate to our, through our clients, but they understood it. I mean, we did the right thing. We didn't charge them for that, but we took our loss and we moved on,
What was the loss? How much did you lose on
That deal? Uh, it wasn't a riff or maybe like eight to 12 grand somewhere in that range. But the good thing is though what we're going to do because of that, there's a, there are some rental own offers out there, but we still get renters. You know, we, we, we were targeting broadly for every hundred leads. We're probably going to, we probably get anywhere from 10 to 15 renters. And right now they're just falling to the floor, but there are rent to own, uh, campaigns that we can,
I love that strategy, right? Like if you're running solar, no down, sell into the rent to own. That's great.
That's what I like about solar is that, think about it when people buy a home or they're in a home. I think the last thing to think about solar, they're thinking about their windows. They're thinking about the roof. They're thinking about siding floor and home warranty. There's a lot of stuff they're thinking about. So, uh, that's one reason why we've been shifting the last six to nine months. We've been doing a lot more home services, window campaigns, and they're starting to work for us. So, uh, the bottom line is that solar is pretty much, it's pretty much a niche. So if we could, if figured out this niche pretty well, I think we can crush it. And, uh, you know, something more meaty in bigger encompassing then than, than solar stuff like windows, uh, should be good. So we're, we just started that a couple months ago, starting to gain some traction and I've come April and may, I think we're in a wrap the heck out of that. Nice. So
Pop quiz. Do you know what home Depot says? The lifetime value is of a new homeowner in the first, I think two years just home Depot.
I, I feel like I knew this a while back. I mean,
75 to a hundred thousand, see Leonard and 50,000, you know, it's funny.
That was the first number I thought about. But then I was like, you know, there's, we target a lot in some space where it's like different levels, a little bit lower, so that's why I went lower. But yeah, it makes sense.
Yeah. I think there was another article I read. It was like 150,000, but that's a lot right. Serious LTV. Um, over the first couple of years, I love it. Okay. So on this show, we're all about blending, the world of advertising and finance. And I'm curious, what are some financial principles, uh, that you use every day? Uh, day-to-day operations for your business on it's allowed you to, to spend the type of lead gen dollars you're able to spend?
Yeah, well, what we do is whenever we start a new campaign would put a certain amount of money that we're going to, we're going to spend to where it's anywhere from. It could be five to 10 grand. If it's something brand new, we start very small and willing to do a couple of hundred dollars a day, a certain space. The thing was solar is that solar is very fragmented. Um, you know, you can't really do a nationwide campaign. Every state has different restrictions, different incentives. So if we go to a brand new state, like we recently got into Minnesota a few months ago, never did Minnesota. So Minnesota, we're like, okay, let's, let's start. Maybe we even start like a $50 a day. That's sort of $50 a day. See, you know, what's it cost to generate this lead. Now let's go to a hundred, then let's go to 200.
Right? So we, we, we ramp gradually. We add on a new affiliate, um, that we haven't worked with before. We'll maybe cap them at $5,000, spend, you know, over a week, give them like a thousand dollars a day to see what they can do. And all the $5,000 we'll know if it works, if they can hit our targeted appointment, set rates somewhere between 20 or 30%, then what we'll do is we'll double it. We'll go from five grand to 10 grand the next time to make sure it wasn't a fluid. If that works, then we would have 15 grand. And if that works, then we'll go unlimited. Or, you know, we're, I can't really say unlimited, but I mean, most the most we've ever been able to do with a certain affiliates, they be like, you know, 20 to 30 grand. So we can, we try to get them up to that level.
There's not many people that that can do that. It's very difficult, but we pretty much ran slowly. Um, you know, we start slow and then we ramp gradually. And once we know it's working, then it's off to the racist. It's like, it's like that with, uh, certain states, we have state that's hitting really hard and we have an advertiser that has the appetite. Um, we'll go ahead and wrap the heck out of it, you know, and, and just keep it work because at the end day, all the solar is growing so fast right now. And they have big call centers, these advertisers, and they want to keep feeding these people and keep them happy. Uh, so at the end of the day, it's like the more money they make, it's really more money, more problems, right. More money, more problems. It's so true. It was like, what is a good thing?
Cause then if you're their solution, you know, then you're gonna, they're gonna, they're going to grow with you. Right. And we've been very fortunate to help, to help grow a lot of these big solar companies. So, you know, we, we, we start with, we test small and we re we, we, we, we, we go along, we re re raise caps, and then if it works well, then with also the racists, we do, we try to take it on as much as we can, but we keep an eye on it because, um, you have these, these little blips where you might be doing 20 or 30% set rates, and all of a sudden it goes to 12 to 15%. So you guys just keep your eyes on that because if not, you could carry it out pretty fast.
Yeah. Okay. So how many feelings do you work with at a given time?
Uh, it varies. I mean, it's usually 10 to 15, but truth be told it's like three to five. They're the main, heavy hitters out there.
And how long do you work with these affiliates? I mean, you've been working with them for a long,
Yeah. I mean, some of them several years, you know, we have, uh, one that we just came on board about seven, eight months ago and they're crushing it with us, you know, so we have some that for a year or so that are more recent and we're always testing and we always got to test new sources out, um, to see what they can do. But yeah, we, we, we, we try to do the right thing by them to assess to that, that, you know, most of the time they work with networks that pay on that 30 net 14, we paid that set and we pay fast. They send us the invoice. We pay that same day within 24 hours. So they liked that. And they talk with our team. They can reach me whenever. I mean, there is a partnership is what I look at it as they're part of our team, you know? So we do the right thing that we treat them as well as we treat our advertisers, because at the end of the day, we, we, we couldn't service or advertise or hidden with the volume we can if it wasn't for, you know, these affiliates.
Yup. Yeah. I love that. I love that business. It's a nice little pocket, three to five affiliates, venture advertisers. That's awesome. So the only other person I know that's in, that's done solar that has a background in call centers. Is James a geek out? So like, w is there, there, is there like history there with you guys? Or like, what's the,
Uh, nanny, we we've, we've known each other for almost a decade. And then we started to ramp up, uh, together probably like in 2016, but yeah, we, uh, I was in solar. I started solar direct morphing, uh, late 2015, early 2016. And then we reconnected and he was doing his solar pretty heavy. So we just partnered on some and we start to ramp up volume and we were doing, there were some big months. I remember. I mean, there were some seven figure months for sure in terms of total, no amount of leads generated. Um, but he was in ECI. That's why I went to BTR. He's been such a big influential force in my life and, uh, really told me the ropes when it comes to lead gen. And then also he's, uh, he's the one, man. I take my hat off to any time. And what he's done with geek-out has been amazing. I mean, that show was phenomenal and I'm definitely going to attend as many of those as I can because I'm, someone's always looking to get an edge and, you know, being a geek out in the circle that he's kind of created is it's just an amazing circle of people that are like next level thinkers. So, uh, yeah, James definitely helped teach me the ropes and I, you know, I, uh, I, I look up to him as more as a mentor figure,
Dude. That's awesome, man. Shout out to James that you're out there. Uh, I love it. Well, David, thank you so much for being on this podcast. You're been amazing, guessing so much for opening up, uh, the doors and giving us some insight into your business, tell everybody how we can support you and what you're up to next.
Yeah. So when you could catch me, uh, firstname.lastname@example.org and Instagram David Stone lab, and yeah, just, you know, people, you know, affiliate set dead that know what they're doing and uh, they want to be part of a team that treats them right and send them our way. We'll be more than glad to, to work with them. Also looking to ramp up the home services space, we're catching steam there. And, uh, we're looking into some stuff with crypto as well. We have some opportunities, there have a partner of mine that has a lot of, uh, you know, involvement in crypto. And we're looking to see what we can do. I have a big call center background, so I'm trying to marry the two. So we'll see.
Yeah, no, that's awesome, man. Well, I appreciate it. Thanks so much. I appreciate that.
Speaker 5 (22:44):
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