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SAMMYs 2009: Making Marketing Magic

SecurTek Monitoring Solutions, Custom Alarm and seven other industry-leading companies reveal their award-winning sales, business and installation practices and techniques. Top marketing minds explain how to balance effectiveness and expenditures.

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Custom Alarm/Custom Communications Inc. (CCi)
Best Community Outreach Program
Sponsored by Altronix


Company Finds Giving Key to Receiving

Custom Alarm of Rochester, Minn., humbly began in the basement of Leigh Johnson’s home in 1968. While the company has grown to employ more than 75 people and monitor in excess of 5,000 accounts with its own central monitoring station, it has never lost sight of serving the community around it.

In 2008, Custom Alarm donated more than 5 percent of its profit to charity, including cash donations, security systems, manpower and other services. Charities included the American Heart Association, Channel One Food Bank, Rotary, a children’s museum, Crisis Nursery and the United Way.

“It is really fun for the marketing department to be recognized and makes all of our employees feel proud,” says Director of Marketing Nikki Johnson. “Winning awards like this is great for our reputation. It shows that we are not just a fly-by-night company but one who has been recognized within the industry.”

The company, which provides security systems for homes and businesses as well as sound and media solutions for commercial applications, generates more than 90 percent of its business from repeat customers and referrals. The company’s involvement in the community has cemented its reputation as a trustworthy and dedicated business.

“We like to do campaigns and projects that are grassroots,” says Johnson. Sponsoring onsite promotions has shown favorable outcomes for Custom Alarm. By supporting its local minor league baseball team, the company has increased its brand awareness every time a player steals a base.

“Whenever anyone gets caught stealing a base they announce, ‘That player was caught stealing by Custom Alarm.’ Those kinds of efforts seem to be more beneficial than some of the traditional modes of marketing, and we feel showing our support for local businesses goes a long way for us,” Johnson says.

Each year, Custom Alarm evaluates its previous marketing strategies and dedicates an additional 6-7 percent increase in marketing budget for the new year. This kind of commitment allows those in the company to really dig in and get involved in surrounding neighborhoods. A special volunteer committee was created to target areas of the community where the company could have the greatest impact. Employees are even given paid time off to volunteer during work hours.

“I think that one of the really special things we have in our company is the overall giving atmosphere. It is not just our management team that believes in it. We have employees who are participating in walks during the weekends with their families and raising money for the causes they believe in,” says Johnson. “Although our culture of giving does start at the top, it truly resonates all the way through the company.”

Custom Alarm also invests in some traditional forms of advertising, such as local TV commercials, which have gotten positive reactions so far.

“I think it creates top-of-mind awareness so that when someone is looking for a security system we are the ones they think of,” says Johnson. “Additionally, we have a nice marketing piece that we use for cross selling to our existing customers and prospects.”

One of the challenges Johnson faces is keeping Custom Alarm’s message creative and eye-catching while still generating customer action. However, the company is expecting positive feedback from its growing online marketing efforts that are slated to launch next fiscal year.

Smith & Wesson Security Services
Best Overall Integrated Marketing Campaign
Sponsored by ADI


Dealer Program Takes Steady Aim

The largest maker of handguns in the United States entered into a new realm of recognition when its security services division racked up an award at this year’s SAMMY ceremony.

The Springfield, Mass.-based company ventured into the electronic security industry last spring (see “Smith & Wesson Takes a Shot at Security”) and wasted no time creating a name for itself in the electronic security world.

“We are a new dealer network and winning this prestigious award gives us recognition we never would have gotten otherwise,” says Eric Wahrsager, vice president of marketing and development, NationWide Digital Monitoring, the wholesale monitoring company licensed to design and market Smith & Wesson-branded security systems. “Dealers in the industry are giving us serious consideration after seeing the marketing we are putting behind them. Just to be nominated is great. To win was above our expectations.”

The company’s marketing movement was more than just a shot in the dark. With more than 76,300 accounts and counting, Smith & Wesson Security Services is aiming in the right direction.

“Our literature equips the alarm dealer with all the marketing tools they need to inform and acquire new customers, from brochures and door-hangers to in-home presentations,” says Wahrsager. “These materials were specifically designed as a cohesive campaign with each piece working off the next, helping dealers build their business more effectively.”

Smith & Wesson prides itself on creating and implementing marketing materials aimed at helping its dealers grow their businesses. However, Wahrsager found the greatest challenge is maintaining the continuity of the branding across the board, from print to Web.

“As we launched our dealer network, direct mail promotions and E-mail blasts were very successful in getting the word out about Smith & Wesson Security Services and notifying prospective dealers about our in-person, informative breakfasts throughout the country,” he says.

Smith & Wesson’s initial marketing materials played a significant role in the fast growth of the dealer network, according to Wahrsager. In turn, the marketing budget has been a direct reflection of that growth.

“We feel our marketing budget will continue to grow as we build our network, and we will develop more materials based on the needs and input of our dealers as well as the needs of the target audience.”

Moving forward, the company is currently exploring and experimenting with other media, including TV commercials, radio advertising and Internet advertising. A new focus is also being placed on educating and training dealers to effectively use these materials to market their businesses successfully.

“Our dealers are ultimately the backbone of the company. They are out there every day acquiring customers, performing the installations and helping the company grow as a whole,” Wahrsager says. “Accordingly, they deserve the best marketing materials and tools to aid in their success.”

By measuring its return on investment (ROI), adjusting its marketing campaigns, and striving to help its dealers’ businesses prosper, Smith & Wesson Security Services continues to keep its eye on the target.

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Article Topics
Business Management · ASG Security · Cover Story · Custom Alarm · Provident Security · SAMMY Awards · SecurTek · All Topics

About the Author
Rodney Bosch
Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.
Contact Rodney Bosch: [email protected]
View More by Rodney Bosch

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