The RISE & FALL of Australian Solar ☀️ with Pat Southwell from Southwell Solar Inspections

The Digital Tradie Podcast | Episode 10

G’day legend!

Dave List here from “The Digital Tradie” podcast. Buckle up, because I’ve got an AWESOME story from my chat with Pat Southwell, the bloke they call the Wolf of Wall Street of the Solar Industry.

From Solar Boom to Bust

Pat Southwell isn’t just any tradie. This guy’s been in the trenches of the solar industry, starting from the early days when government rebates had everyone and their dog installing solar panels. Pat was at True Value Solar during its meteoric rise and dramatic fall, and he’s got the battle scars to prove it.

Crazy Defects and Shenanigans

Pat’s seen some things that would make any sparky’s hair stand on end. One of the wildest stories he shared was about a neutral bar so cooked it was literally smoking. Imagine rocking up to a job and finding a switchboard looking like a disco bar – lights flashing, smoke billowing. Pat saved the day on that one, but not before having a good laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Marketing Mayhem

True Value Solar wasn’t just about dodgy installs; they were marketing maniacs too. They had ads everywhere, even sponsoring Essendon Football Club. But the real kicker? They’d sell you a five-kilowatt inverter with a handful of panels and call it an “upgradable system.” Talk about a sales pitch! It’s like buying a ute with one wheel and being told you can upgrade to the other three later.

Pat’s Tips for Solar Consumers

If you’re in the market for solar, Pat’s got some awesome advice. First off, steer clear of the cheap, dodgy gear. You wouldn’t buy a second-hand nail gun with half its parts missing, right? Same goes for solar. And always go with in-house installers over subbies. The guys who have skin in the game are more likely to do a top job without cutting corners.

FAQ: Marketing Lessons from True Value Solar

Q: What made True Value Solar’s marketing so effective?
A: True Value Solar invested heavily in visibility. From TV ads to sponsoring the Essendon Football Club, they were everywhere. Their aggressive media presence made them a household name.

Q: What should tradies avoid in their marketing?
A: Avoid misleading customers. Selling a “five-kilowatt system” with only 1.5 kilowatts of panels might get quick sales, but it damages trust in the long run. Be honest about what you’re offering.

Q: How can tradies build a strong brand like True Value Solar?
A: Consistency and visibility are key. Use multiple channels—TV, online, websites and sponsorships—to keep your brand in front of potential customers. But unlike True Value Solar, ensure your product quality matches your marketing promises.

Q: What’s one marketing strategy tradies can learn from True Value Solar?
A: Leverage partnerships and sponsorships. Associating your brand with well-known entities, like a local sports team, can boost credibility and visibility.

The Takeaway

Chatting with Pat was a blast. From the crazy defects to the wild marketing strategies, it’s clear the solar industry has had its ups and downs. But with legends like Pat keeping an eye out, we’re in good hands.

Catch you next time, legend!

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David List

G'day ya LEGEND! I'm an Tradie of almost 20 years (sparky to be exact), who started to make videos on YouTube, TikTok and LinkedIn, as a way of passing on my knowledge. One thing lead to another and I realised I could make more impact helping Tradies with my own business. So, LIST Media and Trade Magnet were born! Helping Tradies Convert with Online Content.

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