If someone offered best practice tips that could help you improve business, would you accept them? I’m going to go out on a not-so-long limb and say that you would. With that in mind, SSI’s June Sales & Marketing Issue, is chock-full of sales and marketing information, including our cover story in which all the 18th annual SAMMY Award-winners provide insights that could possibly help your firm in its marketing efforts.
SSI interviewed nine top marketing companies for the feature, and as you can imagine we couldn’t get all the nuggets of marketing wisdom into one article. Here, I share bits and pieces of my interview with Jeremy Bates, owner and general manager of Bates Security, which took home SAMMYs this year for Best Logo and Best Vehicle Graphics Design. Keep reading to find out how SSI’s 2012 Installer of the Year (Small to Midsize company) winner, Bates Security, markets to the masses.
What’s your company’s general philosophy or approach to marketing initiatives?
Jeremy Bates: Everyone thinks that sales and marketing are one and the same. We finally came to the realization several years ago that that is not the case. Our sales team has done a great job at organically growing the business, but with the demise of the Yellow Pages and the rise of the Internet, it was becoming clearer that we couldn’t just rely on the Yellow Pages any longer. So we look for a return on investment (ROI) in everything that we do. Sometimes that’s easy to determine and sometimes it’s not.
We have always had a very aggressive sales strategy, so I would say that the marketing strategy is very aggressive as well. Last year, we actually added a position dedicated to nothing but our online marketing. We’re trying to improve our organic SEO.
Since you mentioned online marketing, can you talk about the success you’ve experienced with social networking?
We feel like we’ve been successful so far, but is there more to achieve? Are Facebook and Twitter really that valuable or are we tweeting our own horn, so to speak? I’m not really sure. We have recently been focusing more of our efforts to our blog, and really trying to build that up because it ties in to helping with organic searches on the Web site.
Some of the vanity stuff is easy to focus on, but I think some of the harder stuff, like making sure your Web site is structured properly and doing different things to help improve organic searches, we’re starting to focus more on that. We actually just launched into a new program. Talk to me three to four months from now after this program is fully rolled out and hopefully we’ll have some dramatically improved numbers to tell you.
How do you judge whether your marketing materials are successful or not?
Well, some you can judge and some you can’t. Some of it’s just a gut feeling and some of it we can tie directly to the leads that we receive and the value of the sales made off our efforts. When we market at homebuilder shows or home and garden shows, we’ll take the expenses that are involved in putting those shows together and then we’ll look at the leads that we from it and the sales that are generated from it. We have some exact numbers from that. We’ll judge those efforts based on that, so if we did a direct mail, we would be able to tie those members back to our associated expenses.
We’re also judging it from our rebranding effort that we did two years ago — from ADR Security to Bates Security — with our new logo and van rollout. No one ever told us, “Oh, I see your ADR yard signs.” But now we hear that comment all the time. Nobody talked about seeing our vans, but now we hear people saying, “Oh, I see your vans everywhere.” Our gut tells us that we are definitely getting business off the marketing efforts from those two particular things. In fact, we have started tracking how many leads that we get based on people saying, “Oh yeah, I saw one of your vans.” It’s funny because a couple of companies had assumed that we were a national company because they see our logos and vans everywhere. Comments like that really helped us realize that we hit a homerun in how we rebranded.
What other marketing ideas have been beneficial for Bates?
Well, as I alluded to earlier, our increase and continued focus on the Internet and SEO is probably the next biggest thing that we’re working on. It’s obviously going to play an even bigger role in the future, so those are some areas that we’re really working on. We’re trying some innovative stuff this year, which I can’t go into detail at the moment. I’ll be able to talk about it this time next year, but we are working on some marketing things that are new to us and we hope to see some exciting benefits.
You can read more information about Bates Security in July’s Best of the Best Issue.
Ashley Willis | Associate Editor