An Alarming Truth About Security Marketing

It’s time security companies step up their marketing game.

At the risk of offending and alienating you, this month I submit a harsh reality. Whether it is manufacturers, distributors, third-party central stations, alarm dealers or systems integrators, or trade associations, our industry continues to have a marketing problem. Oh, I am sure your organization is the exception. Sorry, but it may be time to take another look in the mirror. Consider this an intervention, or at least a wake-up call.

In truth, the electronic security and life-safety industry has made great strides in its marketing capabilities the past two decades – not so coincidentally coinciding with the launch of the Sales & Marketing (SAMMY) Awards (more on that in a bit). We have among our ranks some amazing marketers, materials and campaigns, boosted by an influx of people with marketing as opposed to technical backgrounds, as well as a general rise in the sophistication of message delivery mechanisms. Alas, companies with this acumen remain anomalies amid a majority that either lacks the talent, resources or motivation to elevate their game.

Enter the 2015 SAMMY Awards Program

As a consequence, whether they want to admit it or not, their businesses suffer by failing to reach their full potential. Even more importantly, the industry itself takes a monumental hit in its visibility and image to the general public, first responders and legislators. The ramifications extend to everything from attracting and recruiting fresh faces to how people react and interact with their systems to whether physical security has a seat at end users’ C-level tables to how much attention the industry gets in local, state and federal government policymaking.

This is serious stuff. However, so as not to be too gloomy, I will lighten the mood a little by sharing a couple of amusing experiences that still underscore these critical issues.

Working in a home office affords me the luxury of being able to briefly step outside now and again to meet my 9-year-old son (10 when you read this), Nathan, as his afternoon school bus arrives. This is usually the highlight of my day, and about the only time I am able to pull myself away from my desk. Recently, in asking him about his day as I always do, he told me a person had come in to speak to his fourth-grade class about fire alarms, preparedness and safety. “Oh and how was that?” I asked, expecting him to tell me how interesting and exciting it was. His reply: “It was SO boring! I would rather die in a fire than have to sit through that!” Ah, from the mouths of babes. What does that say about how we are disseminating that potentially lifesaving information to young people?

A couple of days later I was watching the late-night talk show “Conan,” of which I am a fan but usually view the next evening on DVR. During the monologue, a fire alarm emanating from offstage went off, bewildering the host, show producers, audience and viewers alike. While it became apparent it was not a prank but a legitimate alarm, everyone still treated it as levity and did nothing. It turned out to have been from a small fire in one of the dressing rooms. This rare nationally televised incident depicted a widespread dilemma: most people generally disregard alarms.

Whether it is suppliers or dealers/integrators more effectively marketing to their respective customers or all these players collectively teaming up with the trade associations to better represent and promote the industry as a whole – we need to do a better job.

What our industry stands for – protecting people and property – could scarcely be more compelling, yet we must continue to push to keep that message in front of people. I urge you to do more to reach out through advertising, social media, press releases, community service, Web sites, newsletters, events, trade associations – there are so many avenues to accomplish this mission. At the same time, put thought and creativity into these materials to make them polished, professional and attention-getting.

If your installing security systems company is already putting forth this type of effort and producing exemplary marketing collateral and campaigns, then share it with the industry. Inspire others to pursue that ideal, and have your firm and its hardworking associates receive the recognition they deserve by participating in the SAMMY Awards program, now in its 20th year. The cherry on top is it’s an accolade that itself can be used for marketing purposes, while at the same time furthering the industry’s overall professionalism. Let’s bring sexy to security, and stop incurring the scorn of elementary school kids and mockery of talk show hosts.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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