Survival Skills: Learning to Compete With the DIY Goliaths
The industry is fast changing thanks to large market entrants, but that doesn’t mean the Davids can’t compete with DIY — and win big.
Over the past decade, the security industry has seen large consumer brands entering the security market, offering a more consumer-centric, do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to the business. This shift can certainly be seen as a threat, but it doesn’t have to be. Smaller security companies — including vendors, dealers and integrators — have a great opportunity to adapt and thrive in the face of this seemingly daunting competition.
First, let’s acknowledge the competition from these larger organizations and recognize this does not necessarily mean it is impossible to compete. The entrance of new players is a positive change with many opportunities for companies of all sizes to play in the industry. Historically, when a market sees the entrant of a new, outside contender, those who see the opportunity it provides can end up benefiting from the competition in the end.
Take for example phone companies. When the cable companies began to compete in offering phone service, the fear was that they would take over. Instead, the phone companies became nimbler and looked for ways to differentiate their service, or to offer similar services to compete with the cable companies. Everyone had to raise the bar, resulting in a more robust industry where products and services were constantly improving, and the result was a higher standard because of the added competition.
The innovation we are seeing from these large organizations entering the security market is going to push the entirety of the security industry to further evolve. Look at what they do well, what is attractive about their offerings to customers (easy monitoring, great hardware partnerships, etc.) and how to piggyback on this innovation to meet customer expectations, while also showcasing the expertise of the industry and holding true to its roots.
Leverage Your Brand
Now is a great opportunity to reflect on your company’s brand and what you do best — and then focus on and leverage that as a strength. Do you have a lot of customers in one vertical market? Is there one product or service line that makes up the majority of your business?
Take stock and look at what you truly do best. Then, dig into your customers’ pain points, needs and challenges; look at how you are addressing them well, and create an outreach strategy based on those elements.
You can also create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) that reflects companies similar to your most successful customers by revenue size, number of employees and other firmographics to help you target more clearly. By focusing and creating a niche for yourself versus trying to be everything to everyone, you can drive more sales, close them faster and streamline your overall organizational focus.
In the face of these large competitors, it’s also important to think about what you can offer to your customers they cannot. Educate your customers about the weaknesses of DIY. Many DIY systems don’t come with third-party monitoring. Some systems only include a limited number of sensors.
As an example, installation is something they currently aren’t offering directly. Show your customers the value in why your installation process is better than a DIY option, and what they may be missing by doing it themselves. Professionally installed systems provide peace of mind when equipment malfunctions and issues can be addressed immediately by a qualified engineer.
The quality of the equipment is typically higher in professionally installed systems, and professional configuration and setup greatly reduces the potential for connection instability and false alarms. Here you have the added value of professional engineering and even ongoing maintenance support.
Or perhaps focus on the value of professional monitoring over self-monitoring, emphasizing the fact that when an incident happens, police, fire and other first responders can be dispatched immediately. Perhaps consider working more closely with remote monitoring companies to make monitoring contracts more flexible and showcase their value around the convenience that customers are looking for.
Taking stock of your core competencies can also be an opportunity to understand where your strengths are, and either expand or possibly eliminate solutions where you may not be as strong. You may be looking at the opportunity to outsource areas of your business, or establish partnerships to help you provide a stronger offering and to differentiate your company.
Monitoring could be an example of this — with the industry moving more toward outsourced monitoring, you can focus on your other core offerings. The more focused you are, the better you will be able to serve customers and build relationships. You want your customers to know that at the end of the day, when there’s an incident, you will be right there, able to serve them.
Harness Industry Collaborations
Finally, there are a number of resources that help smaller security companies harness the power of a larger organization, while still staying small. Look at ways to partner and integrate with various industry related products and services, central stations or dealers. Join or partner with industry organizations like The Monitoring Association (TMA) or the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) to gain best practices and stay on top of the trends driving the industry.
In addition, joining a network such as NetOne not only provides an opportunity for knowledge-sharing, but can also help your company gain scale and buying power.
The industry as we know it today is changing thanks to these large DIY market entrants, but that doesn’t mean the Davids can’t compete with the Goliaths. Being nimble, focused and open to using the resources available can help ensure future success. If you want your business to stay viable in an increasingly competitive environment, you must keep a finger on the pulse of the consumers who are investing in the industry.
Alison Forsythe is President of the Bold Group. Also contributing to this article: Thom Meyer, Senior Vice President of stages and Steve Keefer, Senior Vice President of Strategy.
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