The recently released Security Industry Association (SIA)-sponsored research report conducted by the Josh Gordon Group, “Business Opportunities in the Security Industry: New Paths to Success in a Changing Market,” gave security industry buyers a voice to sound off about the marketing that targets them. Since few industries are charged with protecting life and property against an ever-changing array of threats, the security industry has unique characteristics that come up during the product buying process that this study was designed to bring forward.
SIA sponsored the research as a “rising tide lifts all boats” study designed to raise the marketing effectiveness of any organization selling products into the security industry. The study collected 1,080 responses from a sample in which about half were security managers, a quarter security dealers and a quarter systems integrators.
Analysis of the data yielded 22 particularly noteworthy findings. However, not all of them are relevant for SSI’s primary audience of installing and monitoring security systems providers. Some are more pertinent for end users while others are of high value for suppliers. Following is a summary of six findings of keen interest to professionals working in the security dealer and integrator channel.
Security Pros Not Social Butterflies
Media usage among security industry customers has seen a lot of change in the past 10 years, so evaluating it can be challenging. Digital and social media come with a lot of useful metrics, but the numbers provided are often not directly comparable between all the options. Social media is often evaluated on the number of conversations started, newsletter open rates and Web banner clickthroughs, while print media offers no comparable digital metrics.
The goal of the study in this area was to put all the media commonly used in the security market on one level playing field so their relative value, from the customer’s point of view, could be evaluated. Asking respondents to rate how often they regularly “read or participate in” different media made it possible to bring social, digital and print media into the same comparison.
Doing so resulted in social media scoring lower than anticipated. In other industries the Josh Gordon Group has worked in, social media is used more frequently, but in the security market use of print and digital media trumped most social media by wide margins.
In an industry that shuns social media, LinkedIn is the third most regularly used medium.
Follow-up interviews found that many security directors actively discourage employees to participate in social media platforms such as Facebook, describing it as a place where “people share too much.” Several identified Facebook as a source of security breaches, both because employees unknowingly had shared personal information compromising to organizational security, and because use of Facebook by employees on the job can provide computer hackers a backdoor to their computer firewalls. Among many with this security industry mindset, social media is under suspicion and actively discouraged. Consider this before investing money into a social media campaign to reach physical security product buyers.
Contrary to the above, one social media platform scored very high: respondents ranked LinkedIn as the third most frequently used medium. Why should LinkedIn score so high while all other social media scored so low?
Follow-up interviews found that LinkedIn is viewed differently because it is primarily a business platform where little personal information sharing occurs. But more importantly, LinkedIn has a feature that is especially valuable to security professionals. When protecting life and property, the ability to evaluate the trustworthiness of new relationships is critical. LinkedIn helps evaluate the trust in potential suppliers, dealers, employees or partners by providing a list of a new prospect’s business associates. If the people on that list are known to be trusted, then the new prospect could be trusted as well, or vice versa. By acting as a personal industry trust meter, LinkedIn offers special value to an industry where trust is critical to protecting life and property.
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