The November issue of SSI includes coverage of this year’s CSAA Five Diamond Marketing Marvel award-winner, Metrodial Corp., as well as runner-up Engineered Protection Systems (EPS). As a bonus, executives from each company are featured in a pair of Under Surveillance blogs. Below in this first one, Metrodial Vice President Andew Lowitt discussed how his company achieves marketing success, tips for other providers, and a look at general industry challenges and opportunities.
What are the drivers in Metrodial deciding to participate for Marketing Marvel consideration?
Andrew Lowitt: We are always trying to push the envelope with new promotions and materials. Even before the CSAA’s Marketing Marvel launched we were already utilizing the Five Diamond logo in our promotional items. We decided to participate as a means to showcase our strategies and efforts to the market at large.
What is the company’s general philosophy or approach to marketing initiatives and expenditures?
Lowitt: We develop a comprehensive marketing approach to meet different needs: building awareness, establishing a targeted two-way dialogue and informing customers with specific information, updates and promotions. We make sure our budget caters to each of these areas so that we always have a complete marketing effort. Of course, we dial up our marketing spend to sustain or increase sales at certain times, and we also invest marketing in special events or for certain targeted messages when we feel we need to reach certain decision makers with priority information. We also focus our spend on key emerging or growing market segments, such as the New York City Fire monitoring market.
Who produces your materials, is it an internal function, outsourced? Why?
Lowitt: We are experts at what we do. Just as we know all aspects of monitoring and security, we knew that an outside agency that knows how to market inside and out would be the right choice to help us promote Metrodial the right way. By hiring and outside agency, Creativ&Co., we had an opportunity for an objective marketing expert to look at us from the outside in, with objectivity and with fresh ideas. Creativ collaborates in a way that firmly allows us to be part of the process and to maintain our brand voice. Taking our input and insight, they do a great job of capturing our identity and uncover the most important things to say, and then create the right executions to deliver these messages.
What are some of the types of marketing items/campaigns you would like to embark upon?
Lowitt: We would love to continue building awareness and keeping dialogue, we would like to increase our efforts in social media. But it has to be done right. Not a “me too” approach, rather a well thought out social media strategy. If this is where our customers and colleagues truly live, then we should be there with the right purpose.
What is your opinion about the electronic security industry’s marketing sophistication? What advice would you offer a company on a limited budget looking to market itself in the industry?
Lowitt: As the decision-makers in the security industry become more in tune with digital advertising they are also sophisticated when it comes to marketing. We’ve seen a lot of marketing in the past, and still do to some degree, that lacked a certain degree of sophistication. Our goal is to raise the profile of Metrodial into the contemporary, forward-thinking company that we are. But to do this, the marketing has to deliver this impression at every touch point. At a minimum, we’d suggest that companies with a limited budget at least invest in a Web presence and some key pieces of marketing collateral. The first place where the prospects generally make their impression of you is online; and a good Web presence also reinforces confidence to customers. There are many off-the-shelf applications and digital social media platforms that are very easy to get up and running, maintain and update from any device. And they look great. A Web site and other digital channels are simply affordable ways to instantly update information and news and other aspects of your company. It’s about staying current and sharing important information that will build trust and credibility, and that will build your company.
Looking at the industry, what do you see as the top three challenges as well as the top three opportunities for monitoring providers today?
Lowitt: The top three challenges would have to be the conversion from POTS lines to VoIP, the 2G sunset and the integration of new technologies such as video monitoring and remote card access. Even though laws and regulations challenge monitoring providers, its ultimate goal is to provide security and safety to the end users. Monitoring companies that meet the requirements and abide by these laws have a great advantage over less qualified competitors. Integrating video monitoring and IP monitoring as part of our services is also another great opportunity for us; our goal is to provide a well-rounded base of services for our clients. We are also extending our offerings in 3G/4G and AES radio technology.