SolarCity to spend $120M on direct marketing company

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Plain ole’ marketing is becoming a major factor in the race to sell rooftop solar panels to homeowners. On Tuesday SolarCity announced that it’s spending about $120 million on a solar marketing unit majority-owned by direct marketing company Guthy-Renker called Paramount Energy Solutions, based in Sacramento, Calif. Guthy-Renker is the company behind those celebrity-endorsed acne wash infomercials for Proactiv.

SolarCity is looking to use the marketing acquisition to grow its solar installations to 1 million customers — or 6 GW worth of panels installed — by the summer of 2018. It’s expensive to bring in new solar customers, and the purchase could help SolarCity reduce those costs.

The rise of marketing in the home solar rooftop world highlights how cheap solar panels have become, but also how solar installers have to differentiate themselves with their brands to compete against each other. Solar marketing companies like Sungevity have been growing dramatically in recent months and years.

On a side note: how awesome would it be if SolarCity made celebrity-endorsed infomercials about rooftop solar panels. Though, Paramount says it mostly focuses on online ads, direct mail and radio ads.

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