Like apparently half the folks at the recent and well attended ASIS show in Dallas (see our event coverage online now and look for more in our December issue), before the exhibits opened I found myself in a huge line that wove through the convention center's lobby waiting to obtain that precious morning nectar — Starbucks coffee. What's a java junkie to do when the options are so scant? Or were they?
A select few, myself included, spied an adjacent and low-key "gourmet" foods stand and ventured off in search of an alternative. Those among the crowd who gambled away their queued positions hit a coffee pot jackpot! The other vendor not only had "joe" aplenty, but it was also Starbucks brew to boot — with prompt and friendly service. As I sipped my caffeine fix and reclaimed 20 minutes of my life, I was struck by the importance of independent thought and action.
Nowhere is that more critical than in the security business. Every corner of America is served by multiple providers selling very similar products, systems and services. Want to stand out from the pack? Look different, act different ... be different. Demonstrate style and creativity. Want to ensure long-term success? Back up that style with the substance of premium and consistent customer service. If you're looking for inspiration there's plenty of examples in our industry.
Take Stanley Convergent Security Solutions (CSS) for instance. Having already established itself as a wellspring of marketing ingenuity and extravagance, the firm outdid itself with the social event of ASIS — an on-field BBQ at Cowboys Stadium that featured team owner Jerry Jones, former players and cheerleaders. Lavish? Sure, but the bang for the buck of giving customers an experience they will remember a lifetime will likely pay off in the long run.
Of course, most companies don't have anywhere near that sort of budget (nor do they target the same national accounts) — but you don't have to in order to differentiate yourself. It's more about how shrewdly you deploy your resources rather than their extent. Other examples of outside-the-box thinking include ASG Security's ads on outfield walls at minor league baseball stadiums, CPI Security Systems' TV spots with bodyguards dressed in black to analogize protection and Keyth Technologies' Marvel Comics-themed service vehicles.
It's no coincidence that all of these companies have received recognition in the industry's preeminent celebration of sales, marketing, overall business and installation excellence — the SAMMYs. Now in its 16th year, the SAMMY (Sales & Marketing) Awards encourage and reward installing security companies that implement best practices, materials and projects throughout their operations.
This unique program includes 12 categories — ranging from as basic as company logo to as comprehensive as overall marketing campaign — and participation is completely free. However, it is necessary to submit entries before the Dec. 31 deadline. The awards presentation and reception, which is also free to attend, takes place the eve of ISC West. For 2011, that's April 5 at 4:30 p.m. in Las Vegas' Venetian Hotel and Casino.
"The SAMMYs provide a benchmark and continually hold the industry to higher standards encouraging and pushing security companies to improve in key areas," says Stanley CSS President/COO Tony Byerly. "Furthermore, it is a great venue for security providers to get together and learn and share about industry best practices."
Not only does the SAMMY Awards honor inventive and conscientious companies, but finalists and winners receive substantial coverage from SSI in print and online that further differentiates those businesses. Now that is what I call really standing out from the pack. For more info on the SAMMYs along with entry forms, go to www.thesammyawards.com. Good luck!
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 12 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.