Marketing’s Guardian

Guardian Protection Services knows a thing or two about marketing, and its display case holding a total of 15 SAMMYs proves it. The armoire is proudly showcased at the company’s corporate office in Warrendale, Pa. — just 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh — and is a good indicator that Guardian is an industry leader where marketing is concerned.

The company has been providing security systems and monitoring services for existing and newly constructed homes for more than 50 years. Guardian Protection also serves the commercial sector by providing systems and monitoring for intrusion detection, addressable fire protection, CCTV, card access control and total systems integration. However, what made the company stand out at this year’s SAMMY Awards was its implementation of marketing in its Yellow Page and television advertisements.

The company recorded revenues of $120 million in 2007, an overall increase of 12.7 percent. The growth was mainly attributed to an increase of nearly $6 million fueled by installation revenue. With Guardian’s presence as a super-regional company, its marketing tactics and community outreach programs have certainly been effective. And with the addition of two more SAMMYs to its showcase, Guardian continues its consistency in marketing wisdom. 

Solid base Leaves Room to Grow

When CEO Russell Cersosimo purchased the security segment of Guardian Protection Services in 1975, he immediately began expanding his workforce. In five years, he had 800 accounts. Its steady increase continued, and in 1986, it opened its first 24-hour central monitoring station. With the addition of financial experts, customer service and technical service teams, Cersosimo grew his company to more than 6,000 accounts. Soon after, Guardian had attracted the attention of The Armstrong Group of Companies, which   obtained a controlling interest in Guardian in 1991. Now with an excess of 1,000 employees, the company has branched out into 24 cities throughout the U.S.

Guardian operates as far west as Arizona, southeast to Florida, and northeast to New Jersey while providing 24-hour monitoring services to all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Its UL-certified, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Five-Diamond central monitoring station, located at its corporate headquarters, is configured to service up to 800,000 customers. Information processing, storage and retrieval are provided by a bank of 34 servers that reside behind a glass-encased, climate-controlled area viewable from all 36 workstations. With nearly 200,000 customers and counting, it is no doubt Guardian’s marketing tactics are working. 

Keeping Track of Successes

Bill Graham, senior vice president of sales and marketing, says the company focuses on three areas when it comes to making decisions, choosing marketing methods and implementing materials. First, Guardian factors in the demographics of the targeted customer base. Past experiences with products and services are then analyzed; and finally, budget is considered.

“In the development of materials, our first goal is to protect our brand and our image, thus quality is paramount in the production of any Guardian marketing piece,” Graham says. “It’s all about ROI [return on investment]. Marketing plays a critical role in our philosophy for driving business, but anything we look to do from a marketing standpoint is considered on a parallel with ROI.”

Guardian’s ROI is proprietary; the company utilizes a cost-per-sale metric to analyze the effectiveness of marketing programs. “We measure the costs involved in executing a marketing campaign — advertising cost, referral fees, etc. — against the sales generated by that specific campaign,” says Mary Lynn Moriarity, Guardian’s vice president of marketing. “The ROI is evaluated on a monthly and yearly basis taking into account the history of the program, any changes in the program, and the current market conditions.”

For example, Guardian uses a multifaceted program that tracks magazine leads, Web leads and partner referrals. A separate program is used to track phone numbers used in each lead source, which is then entered into a monitoring automation software (MAS) platform that can help analyze marketing campaigns based on assigned source codes. 

“You might say that we are ‘tracking-crazy’ here,” says Moriarity. “While we have the great fortune of a wonderful vanity number, we do not use that number in highly-targeted campaigns, but instead assign a special phone number and/or Web source code to each campaign.”

When a prospect responds to a specific campaign, the assigned code is entered into MAS for analysis. The prospect is then tracked based on its status — whether an appointment has been set, the client has been seen, the sale has been closed or the prospect has chosen to proceed with an installation.  “Our ROI model is only as effective as the closeness to which program results are tracked, monitored and analyzed,” says Marketing Assistant Marissa Covell.

Covell, who is responsible for marketing program analysis, provides a monthly summary based on the information gathered.

“Since we track the ROI monthly, we are able to make adjustments to improve the performance of a program on a real-time basis. The willingness of the company to constantly re-evaluate its performance and to resolve problems as they are encountered is an important factor in building and maintaining a positive ROI.” 

Wrapping Up the Wins

Guardian entered fiscal 2008 with a marketing budget of nearly $1.5 million; however, the company remains flexible with its budget based on changes in the market and new product initiatives.  “Based on the successful development and expansion of new business channels along with new office openings, our budget has grown every year,” says Graham. “That budget, for the size of our company, requires a very efficient use of every dollar.”

The money was well spent this year as Guardian won two trophies in the categories of Newspaper/Yellow-Page Advertisement and Television/Radio Advertisement. Guardian’s print advertisement was created after detailed research was done on consumers’ use of the Yellow Pages.

Input from sales managers in the field, analysis of competitor ads, and the design expertise from the company’s Yellow Pages agency was also taken into consideration before implementing the development of the award-winning ad.

The advertisement went through several careful revisions before it was approved for print. The result was an increased call volume of 190 percent. 

Guardian has also seen a positive response from its television commercial. The advertisement aired on cable networks outside of Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Ohio, and while Moriarity says these regions are relatively small, the response has been good. (To view Guardian’s winning television commercial, visit and click on the “Multimedia” section.)

“We consider it a perfect example of our company’s marketing philosophy on quality outcomes combined with economic efficiency,” says Moriarity. “Variations of the advertisement are currently being produced for further tests in several market areas, and Guardian hopes to see the same level of success.”

Know Your Boundaries

Distribution of marketing materials has not been a difficulty for the centralized operation of Guardian.  “One of the best things we ever did was to build a passcode-protected extranet we call the ‘IQ’ [Information on the Quick]. Every form, every<

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