Are you struggling to attract strong talent to help run your security business? From what I’ve heard from PSA members, the struggle is real. There are many factors in talent acquisition, but creating a strong brand to drive interest in your company is critical to make it a compelling choice for new recruits.
Have you ever been at a social event and someone asks, “so what do you do?” If you’re like me, you’re met with a blank stare after your three-minute explanation of security systems integration. I end on, “You know, secure access to buildings, security camera systems… stuff like that!” Confused nod. “Oh look, my drink is empty!”
We’ve talked about this at PSA TEC, on committee calls with our members and other industry events as well. While the dinner party anecdote is a bit hyperbolic, it does represent a real challenge for the future of our industry. Unless someone has a family member or friend in the industry, most end up in security by accident. The ironic part is what we do is AWESOME!
Is our industry the best kept secret around? Or, even worse, is our industry just not attractive to future talent?
Without a more compelling narrative about the impact of the industry and the integral role security integrators play in securing our spaces, we will continue to struggle attracting new talent to systems integration. There are many in the industry working to address next-generation talent, drive more diversity and support women. These groups are vital and are certainly part of the solution. As a communications professional though, I can’t help but wonder what roles the marketing and branding of the industry can play in making security more attractive. At PSA, we specifically launched a marketing agency, Swell, to help our integrators with brand strategy and all things marketing.
While no individual company can solve the issue for the entire industry, it can work to address the challenges in its own market. Below are four elements of strategic brand planning that can help narrow an integrator’s focus and drive more compelling stories about what, why and how we operate. Likewise, many of these elements can also be approached as an employer.
1. Consider the target audiences
Defining your target audience is critical. When selling products and services to end users, it’s best to create an ideal customer profile to outline who they are and what makes them tick. What are the problems they need you to solve? How can you make their lives easier? Where do you find them? What verticals do they serve? The list goes on and on.
Similarly, when thinking about the talent you want to attract to your organization, create an ideal employee profile. Next generation talent is an important group to consider. Generation Z has very different behaviors and beliefs than the generations before it. Your website must be modern and easy to use for them to even consider doing business with you. Likewise, with a compelling brand narrative for your organization, future employees will understand what you do and, hopefully, want to be part of it. This is just one example of how mapping who your ideal targets are can inform strategy.
2. Focus on the outcomes to simplify the message and make it human
Business-to-business marketing often isn’t known for the flashy campaigns of consumer marketing. While we may have vastly different goals than a consumer product team, there are some best practices we can steal. For instance, focusing on outcomes first. Take the most recent Super Bowl commercials. Farmer’s Dog didn’t speak solely to the quality of its ingredients, how it is made, what it costs, etc. It told a tale of a dog and girl who lived a long, happy life together… made possible because the dog ate Farmer’s Dog!
Cologne and perfume advertisements are always a great example of this. Instead of talking about the floral notes or the price points, they show how the person wearing them looks, feels, seems. In security systems integration, we save lives, provide peace of mind, literally and figuratively open doors.
When talking about the security industry we tend to market the technology and product features and specs versus the reasons why these products matter. The members I work with at PSA regularly have amazing stories of problems they solved for clients: protecting students in schools, supporting patients in hospitals, securing government facilities.… These are a few of the many compelling narratives I encourage them to share when telling the stories of their brands.
Communicate the why behind your security brand. The security industry is about safety and protection. But even more compelling is that it also about trust and peace of mind. Therefore, branding the security industry should reflect these core human values and emphasize the benefits that clients can gain from their services. These are powerful human needs that support the reason why clients prioritize security.
Research shows that the next generation prioritizes working for a brand with purpose. Protecting human life is core to what we do. Let’s tell more stories about the important work versus showing more product specs.
3. Show the competitive advantages
Who are the industries we are competing against to attract talent? Likewise, what industries seem more attractive to potential employees and what are the elements that make them so flashy?
Create a chart of direct competitors and, potentially, secondary competitors. Highlight the benefits where your organization wins as an employer. Examples could include excellent benefits, no college degree necessary, bonuses, family-first culture, clear path for growth and development.
Make sure you also honestly assess your competition. This could be a great way to see where you fall short and how you can improve.
4. Create brand positioning statements
Brand positioning statements can be extremely useful to help provide focus for your marketing and branding efforts. They aren’t necessarily for public consumption, so they don’t have to be flowery and beautiful, but they do help define some key things:
- Who the target audience is for your brand.
- What category of the market do you serve.
- What is the greatest benefit of your product/service.
- What is the impact of your product/service.
While I highly recommend this exercise for the benefits of branding, you can also do this from the lens of an employer competing in the marketplace for talent.
There are many other areas of opportunity to continue to attract talent to our industry. Where we recruit is a big piece of the puzzle. Working with universities, trade schools and high schools is also important in driving awareness of our industry as an employer of choice. It’s best, though, to have our brand story thoughtfully crafted first.
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