Insight From an Informed Customer

FREE Home Security System! FREE Home Security and Satellite TV Offer! The Equipment Is FREE! … The Activation Is FREE! …  The Maintenance Is FREE! …  Schedule Your FREE Evaluation Now! FREE Installation and Equipment! FREE Monitored Smoke Detector! These are just a few of the sales pitches from the many direct-mail solicitations we began receiving mere days after my wife and I moved into our first house late last year.

We also received lots of letters congratulating us on our new home and offering to assist us with our security needs. Some of them played on having alternatives to deal with verified or delayed response from the Los Angeles Police Department (even though we are not in their jurisdiction!). One of them, which was riddled with typos and blotches of correction fluid, spoke of how “professional” and “superior” their services were.

The most surprising aspect of this deluge was that 100 percent of them were affiliated with the same national company. We did not receive a single piece from anyone else, not even from the company that had originally installed and monitored the existing system … and its main office is just three blocks away!

As it happens, since I am in the industry, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do with the existing system. Therefore, I went with a company I know has a proven track record of first-class service and professionalism. However, I am quite certain those advertisements would have piqued the interest of an average homeowner. All this leads me to three points I want to make.

First, in a major metropolitan region such as Los Angeles County, served by more than 500 licensed electronic security contractors, why aren’t more of them hitting up new homebuyers? Where are the marketing efforts? Could there really be only one company aggressive enough to obtain lists of new homeowners and business owners? Kudos to them, I say, for being on the ball and turning over every stone for new business.

When you consider Security Sales & Integration‘s 2004 Sales and Marketing Survey found neighborhood canvassing and new homebuyer lists to be the second and third leading sources of generating new prospects, most alarm dealers in my neck of the woods appear to be asleep at the marketing wheel. I hope this is an isolated case, but I fear it is a microcosm of what takes place in across the country.

Second, what is with all the “freebies?” I thought our industry was moving away from this type of shabby, bargain-basement mentality and the sort of substandard “security” systems they tend to bring with them. I had hoped we were trying to reestablish the well-deserved value of our skilled labor and installation expertise.

Security installers do not have to sell their souls to get their foot in the door with a new customer. People expect to pay a fair price for a quality product. Just because the “free” equipment/recurring monthly revenue (RMR) model works in the cell phone and satellite TV industries does not make it ideal for security. There is far more to designing and installing a security system than activating a phone or throwing a dish on a roof.

Third, why do some security companies continue to send out poorly designed, error-ridden direct-mail items? In this era of advanced desktop publishing solutions, there is really no excuse not to have, at a minimum, something that isn’t a total embarrassment.

These marketing pieces represent the company and its services. In the absence of anything else, they are its “face” to the prospect. How can a customer believe a business is professional if its materials appear amateurish? Why would people put their faith in that company to safeguard their family, belongings or business if its presentation tools read at a grade-school level? The answer, in most cases, is they wouldn’t.

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