Grassroots Marketing Hits Home With SAMMY Winners

Custom Alarm/Custom Communications Inc. (CCi)
Best Community Outreach Program
sponsored by Altronix

Company Finds Giving Key to Receiving

Custom Alarm of Rochester, Minn., humbly began in the basement of Leigh Johnson’s home in 1968. While the company has grown to employ more than 75 people and monitor in excess of 5,000 accounts with its own central monitoring station, it has never lost sight of serving the community around it.

In 2008, Custom Alarm donated more than 5 percent of its profit to charity, including cash donations, security systems, manpower and other services. Charities included the American Heart Association, Channel One Food Bank, Rotary, a children’s museum, Crisis Nursery and the United Way.

 “It is really fun for the marketing department to be recognized and makes all of our employees feel proud,” says Director of Marketing Nikki Johnson. “Winning awards like this is great for our reputation. It shows that we are not just a fly-by-night company but one who has been recognized within the industry.”

The company, which provides security systems for homes and businesses as well as sound and media solutions for commercial applications, generates more than 90 percent of its business from repeat customers and referrals. The company’s involvement in the community has cemented its reputation as a trustworthy and dedicated business.

“We like to do campaigns and projects that are grassroots,” says Johnson. Sponsoring onsite promotions has shown favorable outcomes for Custom Alarm. By supporting its local minor league baseball team, the company has increased its brand awareness every time a player steals a base.

“Whenever anyone gets caught stealing a base they announce, ‘That player was caught stealing by Custom Alarm.’ Those kinds of efforts seem to be more beneficial than some of the traditional modes of marketing, and we feel showing our support for local businesses goes a long way for us,” Johnson says.

Each year, Custom Alarm evaluates its previous marketing strategies and dedicates an additional 6-7 percent increase in marketing budget for the new year. This kind of commitment allows those in the company to really dig in and get involved in surrounding neighborhoods. A special volunteer committee was created to target areas of the community where the company could have the greatest impact. Employees are even given paid time off to volunteer during work hours.

“I think that one of the really special things we have in our company is the overall giving atmosphere. It is not just our management team that believes in it. We have employees who are participating in walks during the weekends with their families and raising money for the causes they believe in,” says Johnson. “Although our culture of giving does start at the top, it truly resonates all the way through the company.”

Custom Alarm also invests in some traditional forms of advertising, such as local TV commercials, which have gotten positive reactions so far.

“I think it creates top-of-mind awareness so that when someone is looking for a security system we are the ones they think of,” says Johnson. “Additionally, we have a nice marketing piece that we use for cross selling to our existing customers and prospects.”

One of the challenges Johnson faces is keeping Custom Alarm’s message creative and eye-catching while still generating customer action. However, the company is expecting positive feedback from its growing online marketing efforts that are slated to launch next fiscal year.

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