Goodbye Bogeyman, Hello Superman!
Security and alarm systems have long had a bad rap as a negative or grudge buy. Although this has eased a bit through the years it remains a thorn in the side of our industry — undermining sales efforts and market penetration. This is especially cogent during times of economic strife. Let’s look at how security got lumped into necessary-but-evil expenditures like dentists and accountants, how technology is changing the dynamic, and something you can do today to help thwart this mentality.
Historically, alarm systems were something people loathed to spend money as they didn’t perceive an immediate return (fiscally or emotionally). Further, these systems conjured thoughts of unpleasant threats against loved ones, livelihoods or possessions. Security was also something you did not talk about for fear of compromising your protection — making it akin to a deep, dark secret.
Typically, especially in the case of homeowners and small business operators, security systems were purchased by those who had already been victimized, had reason to believe they were in serious jeopardy of being targeted or for insurance purposes (premium discounts). It did not help that for many years the alarm industry’s chief marketing ploy was scare tactics with imagery depicting perilous situations and reinforced the negative associations.
Those marketers unwittingly forged a connection in the public’s psyche that made the alarm industry one with the bogeyman. Compounding the situation was a long line of newspaper and broadcast news reports of problematic systems that either sounded continuously or failed to work as promised, and unscrupulous dealers (often supported by under-supervised dealer programs) that used shady sales practices or were derelict in their duties.
Unfortunately and despite those charlatans being in the minority of what was mostly an extremely conscientious and legitimate community, the industry proved too fragmented to put forth a unified front and squelch the ripple effects generated by unfavorable press. To top it all off, false alarms and police dispatches — particularly those propagated by apathetic and unresponsive dealers — allowed ill will to fester among law enforcement and induced more damaging media coverage.
Fast-forward to present day where ad campaigns stress well-being as opposed to imminent danger; dealer programs are more exacting; there are more communication channels, stronger trade associations and greater outreach to push positive messages to the masses; and a there is a coordinated effort among manufacturers, dealers and dedicated organizations to cut false alarms and improve police relations.
We are on the right track but much work remains to be done. We have to stay vigilant as the propagation of surveillance cameras has opened up the floodgates with reports of systems not recording, being defeated, capturing poor images, etc. The development of standards and profound technologies like analytics is helping and must be pursued to their full measure.
Speaking to the transformative power of technology, we have embarked on a trend that may forever erase security’s negative connotation: convergence. To meet end-user needs and justify costs, security manufacturers and integrators are positioning their products and services as components that mesh with and enhance residential and commercial enterprises. Yes, this premise has been bandied about in the past, but greater collaboration and cohesion between end user and integrator supported by new technology is finally supplanting supposition with reality. We have officially entered the next generation, or “Convergence 2.0”.
This is changing the 30,000-foot view of security, but there is something more basic and immediate I urge you do to ingratiate yourself with your customers. Call and/or mail each of them to make sure they’re satisfied with their system/service, remind them your company is there for them, and give them some type of discount offer/coupon. In these tough times, this has never been more essential.
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