Marketing Is a Group Effort for The Protection Bureau

The June issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION is our annual SAMMY Awards edition with coverage of this year’s winners in several sales and marketing categories. One of those winners was The Protection Bureau of Exton, Pa., which was cited for Best Promotional Giveaway Item and also captured the Installer of the Year award for small to midsize company (fewer than 300 employees). I was limited to a half-page in print to recognize The Protection Bureau for its Promotional Item excellence, and wanted to exploit this forum to provide you with much more inside marketing wisdom from this family run company.

So here is a Q&A with the company’s marketing director, Gabrielle Kotke, that I hope you find interesting and beneficial.

How are decisions reached about what the best marketing methods materials?

Gabrielle Kotke: From concept to execution, the decisions are made with the specific department that is brainstorming a project. For example, our marketing coordinator will work with the central station manager to reach our clients with monitored accounts, or the sales & marketing manager may want to target a specific market. We work on a creative plan that will be innovative, cost-effective and successful. If we’re targeting our entire client base, [President] Matthew Ladd’s creative juices start to flow and there’s a new initiative.
How do you judge whether a marketing initiative or materials are successful or not?
Kotke: We look to our clients; they’re very vocal. They let us know what they’re thinking. Our sales team decided to target schools and universities. A symposium was planned and executed. Collateral was developed and distributed via direct mail to a prospect list. Result: We had a full house and added several schools and universities to our client list, reflecting well in our bottom line.
What is your ROI model regarding marketing? What sort of metrics or other techniques do you use to measure this?
Kotke: Sometimes it has nothing to do with ROI. It may just be about getting you recognized and your name noticed more often. Of course, everyone wants their program to reflect in the bottom line. We do a lot to try and touch our customers as often as we can. We keep them in the loop with new ideas, products and services that we provide. Calls to our office regarding the flyer they’ve received on a service that can help them save paper by going electronic, for example, show us that it’s working. We also track responses through our online and direct-mail surveys. We ask them regularly, ‘How are we doing?’
The Protection Bureau operates out of a 16,000-square-foot facility in Exton, Pa.

What is your marketing budget? Is it growing or shrinking? How has it been affected by the economy?

Kotke: Our marketing budget has been pretty level over the years and we try to use our allotment wisely. With the times as they are, there may be a few things that we would pass on until we’re in a better position. Currently we’re right in line with where we’ve always been.
Specifically, please detail how materials for The Protection Bureau’s winning Promotional Item were created and implemented? Apart from the awards, how successful have they proved and why?
Kotke: We like to see our name out there. We like to see it in our clients’ hands. The thought was to give them everything they’d need in a meeting with our security consultants or management team. We designed a padfolio that would give them something to write on — then they needed something to write with. Of course, if you’re toting your laptop, you’d be taking notes on your laptop, so the pen became a pen/memory stick. And, if you were using a laptop, you’d need a starburst mouse pad. If you were working on your floor plan, you’d need a ruler. Then we threw in a flashlight/key ring — so they could find their keys (if they’re unlucky enough not to have an access control card). We also give them a collapsible umbrella so they don’t get caught in the rain when they leave. I work with a local printer/promo house to obtain the items that we’re researching. A lot of thought goes into our logo. We have our traditional star and a starburst in four color. Some items will not support the full color version. We have a standard that we have set down and is strictly followed. Logo, color and placement are key. If it doesn’t work on an item, we won’t use it. We have a rule that when a guest comes to The Protection Bureau, they leave with a gift.
The Protection Bureau’s “padfolio” won the 2009 SAMMY for Best Promotional Giveaway Item.

What are some other specific marketing items that have proved beneficial for The Protection Bureau and why?

Kotke: We produced a CD/business card that was a great idea and a SAMMY winner. It was the size of a business card — easy to carry — and chockfull of information when you put it into a player. We would present the business card CD to customers and they would remember who The Protection Bureau was, because it was unique. Another program was that each year, [company founder] Keith Ladd would travel to his home state of Vermont and purchase fresh maple syrup. We would then send these quarts of syrup out to clients and friends. Each one would come with a personal letter from Keith explaining what he was giving and why. Each year customers looked forward to the unique and special gift. It was a personal and unique gift.

What have been some of the greatest challenges in creating and distributing these materials?

Kotke: With marketing items it’s finding just the right ‘thing’ that will make an impact and be innovative at the same time, and not be overdone. We also like to be able to provide great things that are portable so our visiting clients can get them home if they’re flying, or if we’re shipping it to them. When talking about printed materials, it’s price and appearance. We’re not a large company, but we have the challenge of keeping up with those that are, but not on their budgets. We have to look good and be consistent within our own financial plan.

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