Security Ads Need an ‘Extreme Makeover’

Although I have only been on the publishing side for about five of my 25 years in the electronic security industry, I have been a student of periodicals since I was a teenager. After becoming publisher of Security Sales & Integration, my interest only intensified. A day does not go by when I am not leafing through the dozens of magazines I subscribe to or poring through myriad publications at the local Barnes & Noble.

Sure, like most people, I look through them for information and entertainment, but I especially look at how the material is presented. I evaluate if the editorial is by people who seem to really know what they are talking about, as well as the quality of the layouts. However, as a long-time sales guy in the security industry, I pay special attention to the ads. Are they attention-getting and professional; do they entice action? In short, are they sexy?

When it comes to magazines serving the automotive, consumer electronic and architectural markets, for example, their ads are definitely sexy. They are glossy, polished presentations that tap into people’s base emotions. They create an allure that helps induce a yearning within readers — a sense that they need that product to feel good. Experts say these are critical factors in outstanding marketing programs.

As our industry matures, end-user advertising will increase, whether it be print, TV or other media. Unfortunately, currently most electronic security ads directed at the consumer fail to illicit such a response. Many of them lack the requisite sophistication and sheen. In fact, often the converse is true. Many of our industry’s ads depict frightening or bland imagery that can lead to an association of security with negative feelings. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it — we lack sex appeal.

Our industry needs to somehow ingrain the feeling that security systems are desirable and conducive to a better, safer lifestyle. Security solutions need to be equated with pleasurable feelings similar to buying a plasma-screen TV or a new luxury car. We need to drive the message home so people feel like they cannot live without a security system.

Today, people generally look at security systems as something you need after you’ve been burglarized — and that’s only after your insurance company threatens to raise your rates! Security systems are viewed as a necessary evil, like going to the dentist. But heck, even the dental industry is recreating itself in this regard. It has begun profiting from “feel-good,” extreme makeover marketing campaigns that show bright, white smiles.

Consider this: Beer and cigarette companies provide ad messages that “normalize” consumption. They glamorize their products even though they are the causes of many of society’s greatest ills, including alcoholism, drunk-driving deaths, lung cancer, etc. The point is that shrewd marketing can build an indelible, positive image in the public’s mind regardless of the product.

Our advantage — if we get our act together — is that we are selling fantastic products that are truly good for society. Our marketing efforts should focus on repositioning ourselves and utilizing professional photographs that give an upscale appeal. Why do we sell “keypads” and pictures of cameras to consumers? We have such advanced and useful goods and services to offer, yet we are failing to fully cash in on them.

Do cable or satellite TV providers sell the decoder “black box?” No! They sell enjoyment and the appeal of entertaining programming to the entire family. Does Harley Davidson really sell motorcycles? No! It sells an attitude — a feeling of being a bad ass on the weekends even though we may not be.

The keys to effective marketing are to portray something not only that looks good, feels good and is easy to use, but also is trendy and cool to own. The perception of the product must provide a feeling of success and happiness — it must promote a lifestyle benefit. Let’s revamp our approach and produce exceptionally powerful marketing materials that make a compelling, positive emotional impact.


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