Icontrol CMO Dishes on Selling Home Automation

Icontrol Networks CMO Letha McLaren discusses selling aspects relevant to traditional-minded security dealers entering the connected home space.

As CMO, Letha McLaren leads Icontrol Networks‘ product and marketing initiatives, responsible for product investments and corresponding marketing strategies to grow revenue and deliver excellent customer experiences in the emerging connected home market. She joins the conversation to discuss selling aspects relevant to traditional-minded security dealers entering the space.

Can security dealers expect “peace of mind” will still be an effective marketing message when selling home automation?

Absolutely. The notion of peace of mind extends well beyond traditional security, and is one of the main benefits of home automation. For example, a homeowner can have peace by knowing they can easily check their smartphone app to see if they forgot to close the garage door and if so, close it remotely. In addition, home automation helps homeowners rest easy knowing video monitoring, property protection and carbon monoxide monitoring capabilities are available to keep their family and home protected.

Is selling the energy management piece to home automation all about the lower electricity bill or are there other factors dealers should focus on during an sales conversation?

We’ve done extensive consumer research and it shows energy management, along with security, is a leading factor for consumers when considering the smart home. Icontrol’s 2015 State of the Smart Home report found that 70% of consumers are excited about the potential cost savings from energy efficiency and monitoring, and 47% say they are excited about the potential to help the environment with greater energy efficiency. This shows dealers should focus the conversation on how homeowners can control energy expenses while protecting the environment.

For example, smart thermostats typically offer the ability to set up schedules that run the HVAC system when you need it and turn it off when you don’t, like when you’re away at work. By creating advanced rules that can automatically override the thermostat schedules when it makes sense, homeowners have the ability to save even more on utility bills.

Other aspects to discuss related to energy management and cost saving include automatically switching on/off lights when there is or isn’t motion in the room, or tracking energy consumption of individual devices in the home. Some data points we’ve seen from service providers offering connected home options suggest consumers can save 10% to 15% on their utility bill with solutions that connect HVAC and lighting. For some this can really add up, which makes it a vital selling point.

How much of a threat do you view DIY will be to professionally installed/monitored security and home control products and systems?

We don’t see the two being a threat to each other as they target different audiences. Professionally installed/monitored security reaches the “do-it-for-me” category, consumers who are willing to pay monthly service fees for professional technicians to install systems and keep them in check. This removes connected home friction points for consumers by taking the tinkering – setup, maintenance, updates – out of play entirely. On the other hand, the do-it-yourself category would rather pay a one-time fee and manage their security system on their own. Each category has different wants and needs.

Any other thoughts about how dealers can best position themselves in the marketplace by marketing security and home automation services?

Ensure your customers know you offer home automation services as many people still follow the belief security dealers solely offer alarm services.

See if your provider offers the re-sources to help enable your success as a dealer. With Icontrol One, for example, we are creating an extensive dealer toolkit, which will provide marketing and sales support our dealers need – from customer-facing presentations and direct mail to digital assets. We’re also building a training program to ensure dealers are comfortable selling and provisioning our systems.

Of course, the 2G sunset is under-way. Over the next two years, dealers will need to upgrade four million customers from 2G to 3G and it is a great time to bring home automation into the conversation with customers. For our dealers, Icontrol One’s cost-effective Novatel Wireless 3G MiFi radio up-grade module includes WiFi, Z-Wave and 3G – all for less cost than a traditional standalone radio, making it a real no-brainer.

About the Author

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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