The 'Virtual' Marketing Team
Dealer programs can offer a dealer many different benefits, including a ready-to-go marketing team with customized, affordable marketing materials and new social media offerings.
Small to mid-sized security companies, especially in today’s economy, do not have deep pockets for marketing. Sometimes it can be a challenge to do any marketing at all. Even if a marketing department exists, it can be understaffed and unable to meet the demands of all the ways a company can be marketed — leading to missed opportunities and lost potential customers. That is where a dealer program’s marketing offering can make a difference.
“I chose Monitronics’ dealer program because of its flexibility. I’m able to brand my own company and even utilize their marketing support.” — Curtis Kindred, owner, American Defense Systems, Dallas
“We are a full-service marketing and advertising agency for our dealers. We provide these services to help dealers who may not have in-house marketing expertise, so they can remain competitive and grow their businesses,” says Michelle Nettuno, marketing manager, Honeywell Authorized Dealer Program for Commercial Security Systems, Honeywell, Mellville, N.Y.
Without marketing, potential customers do not know about the company and what sets its services or products apart; and with all the new entrants in the alarm business and new interactive services available, now more than ever customers need to know about what your company offers.
One solution to this problem is to take advantage of the marketing function offered by dealer programs.
“A program such as ours, with proven consistency in support and service offered to its customers, can give an otherwise unknown small alarm company the edge it needs to access an otherwise reluctant consumer,” says Gary Franklyn, vice president of business development, Security Networks, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Having a marketing team “on call” can help provide the time-consuming marketing pieces while eliminating the headache.
“My biggest challenge used to be developing first-class marketing pieces — but not anymore. With the help of the AiN Group’s marketing and printing staff along with my input, my company now utilizes numerous customized, one-of-a-kind pieces and concept packages, tailored to the specific thrust my business is making,” says Stuart Forchheimer, president, HS Technology Group, Baltimore. “From sales slicks, to trade show booths, to media advertising development, the AiN Group team has been a huge part of the reason my business has thrived over the past several years.
“The best part of all: it’s just part of the service they offer to all members — and I have not had to pay for even one minute of consultation or development time. All I pay for is the finished product, at a fraction of what the true market price would be,” Forchheimer describes.
Cost is a huge incentive for dealer programs, explains Melissa Pitfield, director of marketing communications, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), Springfield, Mo.
“Marketing from dealer programs saves the dealer from investing in costly marketing services. By taking advantage of the marketing included in the program, dealers both save on having to invest in marketing services — creation, photography, etc. — and also get to work with marketing professionals who understand the market they are targeting,” Pitfield says. DMP’s dealer program helps create customized literature including brochures, upsell sheets, advertisements, customized videos (with custom logo added to videos), keypads, as well as custom voice-over with the DMP dealer’s name.
AiN Group dealers also save money via the opportunity to print small runs for a low cost.
“Using the AiN booth materials not only saved us a couple thousand dollars, it helped us make a whole lot more. Compared to the other rental companies, not only was AiN’s booth rental fee pennies on other companies’ dollar, I’m pleased to report our booth won the award for “Most Creative” [at our local Somerset Home-Show]. It was eye-catching, professional, and, best of all, the AiN materials attracted builders to our booth.” —
Dwight Sears, Silent Guard, Somerset, Ky.
“AiN Group dealers access customized print materials at a fraction of the cost of large printing companies and/or versus having to have a salaried marketing person on staff at their individual companies to perform what we create and offer. Plus, our dealers access marketing materials with the advantage of affordable quantity commitments. For example, an AiN dealer can order a small run of 50 consumer brochures and purchase them at the price of ordering 5,000, a true savings that goes back to the dealer’s bottom line,” says Melanie Panetta, executive director sales, Western region, AiN Group, Tampa, Fla., and the managing partner of GE Home Technologies.
Printing costs do not come into play with online marketing, but managing all the nuances of the Internet and not missing opportunities can be easier when working with a dealer program.
“The Internet is the newest form of marketing, especially new areas like reputation management, and we provide our dealers with the tools necessary to tackle Internet marketing successfully,” says Donna Namorato, marketing manager, First Alert Professional Authorized Security Dealer Program, Honeywell. “We have educated our dealers on the importance of reputation management and incorporating SEO, SEM, PPC, blogging, email marketing on an ongoing basis, developing a presence on social media websites and keeping their websites current. Additionally, we partner with Internet marketing vendors to help support our dealers’ Internet marketing needs,” she explains.
Social Media Marketing
Today’s dealers also have to deal with a new challenge: social media and mobile marketing.
“In addition to new competition forcing changes to the ways in which dealers interact with customers and market themselves, newer communication vehicles are becoming necessary components of a successful marketing strategy. Customers are seeking information online and via mobile devices like never before and dealers are recognizing the need to not only have a powerful, engaging website, but to communicate with consumers online as well,” says Jay Kenny, vice president of marketing, Alarm.com, Vienna, Va.
“As an example, social media with its simplicity and immediacy of communication, allows consumers to share their experiences like never before. Even without large budgets, local dealers who put a strong emphasis on service can still benefit greatly from a strong presence in the social sphere since they are likely to have a much greater percentage of positive mentions than their huge competitors,” Kenny says.
PSA Security Network, Westminster, Colo., encourages social media usage and allows dealers to contribute to its blog to raise their online presence and search engine hits.
“We have a prolific blog, which our dealers and vendor partners are encouraged to participate in writing features. We understand that not all of our dealers participate, but someday as it evolves for business, they will. And when they do begin to participate we’ll be there for them to continue the conversation,” describes Lisa Miller, PSA’s director of marketing.
If social media offerings do not exist already, many are in the works, and dealers should keep tabs on what’s coming from their dealer program.
“Social media seems to be pushing the alarm industry forward in terms of branding and name recognition. Security Networks has exciting plans for 2013 to move forward with several social media platforms and advance the recognition of the Security Networks brand,” Franklyn says. “Security Networks debuted a mobile marketing initiative this past spring at the ISC West Convention in Las Vegas to great success. We began integrating QR codes onto various marketing materials throughout the show to introduce prospective dealers to our program and parlayed this into raffle entries for iPads and other motivational activities that were held throughout the show. We will continue to research new means to strategize this type of marketing as well as the social media front in an effort to recruit new affiliates and build our brand,” Franklyn promises.
Training on Marketing
In addition to offering the actual marketing, some dealer programs will offer marketing training, helping those companies that are tackling the marketing themselves still continue to improve and stay aware of new marketing trends.
For example, PSA Security, which offers all sorts of business acumen courses at PSA-TEC, includes a series on marketing. “Everything we do at PSA is to help our owners and customers be more competitive in their marketplace. In addition to the marketing products found on buyPSA.com, PSA offers marketing sessions during PSA-TEC each May to ensure our dealers have the latest training and industry knowledge,” Miller shares.
“The education sessions we host on marketing topics vary from year to year. Sometimes, we do a best practices roundtable, so our attendees can share what they’ve learned. At other times, we do a panel discussion regarding a topic or a lecture style. The topics always revolve around how can an integrator can leverage the tools available to generate more business or reinforce the loyalty amongst their current customer base,” Miller describes.
PSA Security also put together a blog series on marketing. Check out, “Why Social Media Leads to Business Marketing Success” online at www.sdmmag.com for information from one of the blogs in the series and check out the entire series at http://blog.buypsa.com/category/marketing-resources.
Shopping for Marketing
Some dealer programs, like Monitronics and Security Networks, to name a few, offer marketing in an online store format.
“Security Networks offers a full service store full of various marketing materials available to affiliates through our proprietary software,” Franklyn shares.
The store is available around the clock, and consultation from Security Networks’ marketing team is available during business hours.
“We provide our affiliates with 24-hour access via a Web-based protocol called Affiliate Services Information System (ASIS),” Franklyn describes. “Through ASIS the Security Networks store can be accessed by our affiliates through our proprietary software 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, we offer a marketing email address where our affiliates may consult with our marketing team at any time with regard to questions they have involving individualized designs related to their specific marketing needs as a company. Security Networks also provides referral services to its affiliates, linking them with industry professionals to assist with the development of websites, print marketing, advertisements and other lead generation tools.”
Dallas-based Monitronics also offers an online store and includes training on how to use it.
“We provide our dealers with an online MarCom resource. We call this online store the ProShop. It provides our dealers the ability to customize marketing templates (postcards, banner stands, door hangers, sales sheets, yellow page ads and more) with their logo/contact info and select various alarm panels, colors, headlines and graphics,” says Renee Mallonee, dealer marketing manager, Monitronics.
“The ProShop is dealers’ one-stop shop. The dealers access it through the personal login they receive once they’ve joined the Monitronics dealer program. Marketing is a topic that is covered at each MoniX (our required three-day training program held quarterly each year for new dealers), along with ProShop training (what’s available/how to navigate), and new dealers receive a ‘new dealer kit’ with samples from the ProShop to introduce them to the marketing materials and capabilities they have,” Mallonee adds.
It is important to remember that in addition to marketing for their company, dealers participating in dealer programs are also tapping into the marketing being done for the company offering the dealer program as another level of support, reminds David Fleming, marketing manager, Code Blue Corporation, Holland, Mich.
“Through the Code Blue sales program, dealers are supported in a variety of ways. They have access to print and electronic sales materials as well as ongoing training and educational courses specific to security. Most importantly, however, they are integrated into our lead generation network that provides them with quality opportunities that come in through the marketing work being done by Code Blue at a corporate level.”
“The holiday mailing card [from the AiN Group] generated $29,679 in sales to our existing customers, as well as several standard service calls from customers we had not heard from in quite sometime. I look forward to doing the next mailer.”
— Brian Shaw, president, Sound Design A/V Contractors, Salinas, Calif.
In addition to the dealer program’s marketing teams, many dealer programs will offer access to marketing partners as well.
“We provide marketing support to our authorized dealers in a number of ways. There are some marketing services we provide ourselves and others that dealers can receive through our vast network of corporate partners,” Namorato says.
For example, AiN Group recently retained the company Single Throw Internet Marketing Company to assist its dealers in navigating the world of social media, while PSA Security offers its members access to a partner marketing company, Security Dealer Marketing, to support its dealers’ marketing initiatives.
Once dealers are involved in a program, another benefit is that they can also receive updates about new marketing initiatives and trends.
“There are so many ways to market to customers today and so many ways that customers/prospects can find out information about a company. In order to stay competitive in today’s market, companies need to stay on top of the latest marketing trends and technologies. We communicate with our dealer networks regularly through email communications, direct mail, conventions and regional meetings, informing them of new marketing initiatives and existing ones,” Nettuno says.
AiN Group, which communicates with its dealers about new marketing services and their benefits via face-to-face visits to their offices, its AiN Live and Learn Events, website and social media, also focuses on keeping dealers in touch with new trends.
“Four trends we’re sharing with our dealers in the marketing arena include:
• The Rise of the Social Business: The social business is one that realizes that their business must transform and include their employees, their customers, clients, and partners — in fact, everyone in their sphere of influence — as a part of their social marketing circle.
• Video Marketing: This will become a major influence with new sites dedicated to digital advertising.
• Collaboration: We will see businesses begin to collaborate more often in local directories, local mobile marketing, deals, and in ways that take their marketing outside the box.
• Location-Based Advertising: The Internet is becoming flooded with competition as more and more businesses jump online to start building their presence. Those that focus locally in their search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts, will see better and faster results in their campaign responses,” shares Diana Rotondo, vice president operations, AiN Group.
As trends like these continue to develop, dealer programs can help dealers stay on top of the changes, all the while continuing to produce quality, effective marketing that keeps potential customers aware of the company and its products, bringing in business.
Did you know SDM’s Buyer’s Guide has a section for dealer programs? Grab your Buyer’s Guide or search online at http://directories.sdmmag.com/BuyersGuide and select Dealer Programs to view dealer programs that might benefit your business. Not listed and you should be? Contact SDM at 847-405-4027 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For an overview of the benefits of dealer programs, read “Dealer Program Update” [www.sdmmag.com/security-dealer-program-benefits]. SDM talks to dealers about why they opted to participate in a dealer program and how it has benefited their businesses.
Why Social Media Leads to Business Marketing Success
Social media revolutionizes the way we do business and connect with our customers — and the PSA Security Network’s blog series on marketing offered some insight on the value of participating in it.
By participating in social media marketing, your business increases search engine optimization, meaning the more content you provide, the more your rankings are increased in search engines, therefore more exposure for your company. For example, if a researcher types into Google ‘physical security,” they will be presented with a list of physical security website options. Google will pull “physical security” not only from buyPSA.com, but from PSA’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and especially blog content to show on the search engine list. Social media is a great resource to increase your company visibility.
Social media is also a great tool for market research. It is great way to track trends in the industry, competition, and to track what people are saying about your business, which can be great for reaching out to your customers in many ways. This increases customer service practices and ensures that you can respond to any customer inquiries as necessary.
LinkedIn is a great business resource for B2B communication and networking. For example, about 80 percent of employers recruit for open positions on LinkedIn. Not only is LinkedIn great for networking, but to join industry relevant groups that send you information and updates straight to your email, hassle-free. Through a marketing standpoint, this is a great way to increase awareness because group and personal updates are sent conveniently through email as well as your home page.
Facebook allows you to post photos, hold contests, offer coupons, and customize your “fan page” (options are community, business, person, etc.) to your preferences which can be done using various Facebook applications.
Facebook is a great tool to give your business a “face” and to allow customers to really connect with your brand.
Twitter allows each user to follow people and be followed. Twitter is especially great for market research because you can track your mentions, retweets, hashtags, and even reply to posts.
Tools to get you started
There are social media dashboards (like Hootsuite.com) that help you organize your postings in each networking site. You can make posts in advance; you can reply or comment on the dashboard as well as monitor trends and company mentions.
Among other tools that provide you with social media insights are postling.com, socialmentions.com, tweetdeck.com, and it’s as easy to update as using your smartphone while you’re out of the office.
Read PSA Security Network’s entire marketing blog series at (http://blog.buypsa.com/category/marketing-resources).