So I’m watching the NFL Network (are any other TV channels really even necessary?) and up pops a commercial featuring Hall of Fame Quarterback and current CBS commentator Dan Marino. I initially tune out because A) I’m not a Miami Dolphins fan, and B) I figure it’s another one of the NutriSystem spots Marino has done for some time. However, it turned out to be for a security system. It was for LifeShield Security, a new company headed up by former NutriSystem CEO Michael Hagen. Talk about strange bedfellows.
An official press release from the company reads: “Formerly called InGrid Home Security, LifeShield is also the first national, professional grade and professionally monitored wireless security system that is easy to set up through a simple ‘plug and protect’ process. LifeShield also boasts superior protection as well as being the best value in home security. LifeShield offers all of the services of the major national home security brands, in an industry-first wireless platform, and at half the price.”
The release for the firm, which originally began its existence in 2002 as InGrid Home Security and recently raised $11 million in investment capital, also quotes Hagan as saying, “There is a huge opportunity to deliver cost savings back to consumers who have been getting slammed by national security companies for years, simply because there was no affordable, trustworthy option.”
Wow, them is fighting words! The company’s brazen approach includes a promotion on the home page of its Web site that reads: “Don’t be fooled by ADT! Pay less ... get more!” It offers $199 and $299 residential do-it-yourself (DIY) kits with free shipping and monitoring priced at $29.99 per month that can be easily ordered online, and requires no annual contract. In a head-scratching alliance, Pittsburgh-based Guardian Protection Services provides the monitoring services.
In the TV commercial, Marino says how with LifeShield there is “No pushy salesperson and no technician in your home.” Hmm, didn’t like him much as a Dolphin and that isn’t helping. He claims to be a LifeShield customer. Maybe he is, but do you really believe a celebrity with his level of visibility eschews hiring a true security specialist to ensure the protection of his wealth and loved ones? Call me a skeptic, but I kind of doubt it.
Plus it’s one thing as a former athlete to pitch weight loss and fitness products — but security? Spare me. Just because Marino could throw a tight spiral does not qualify him to pitch anything and everything. If you are going to go the celebrity route it would make more sense to use a person who has some association with security or safety, say Tom Ridge, William Bratton or John Walsh for example. It’s called credibility.
As an industry professional, from both representational and competitive standpoints, are you concerned about LifeShield Security or its approach? Is it an affront to the legitimacy of security systems, or is it a legitimate threat to the very foundation of the business? Could this be the wave of the future in the residential marketplace where traditional dealer approaches have largely stagnated since mass marketing helped penetration levels peak at around 20 percent? That is surely what Hagan and his backers believe.
I say: FAT CHANCE!
Campaigns like this can be flipped on their heads to the benefit of the entire industry by exceeding the reach of most professional security providers to create heightened awareness about security among consumers nationwide. The surefire way to combat an aggressive go-to-market strategy such as this is to deliver superior customer service and custom-tailored solutions. I’m also certain the incidence of false alarms is less for professionally installed systems vs. DIY. Stress value, responsiveness and expertise while charging a fair price and you will do just fine.
In doing so the result in favor of the industry may well prove more decisive than Marino’s 38-16 loss to San Francisco in Super Bowl XIX.