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  • What marketing method have you found most productive?

    I was curious how most Security companies get their business. I tried to research the methods used by firms in my area but I was unable to find anything related. I spoke with a sales representative from Verizon Yellow Pages and she called around before our appointment to research the Security and Investigations industry. She told me that most people that she spoke to in my area noticed an increase in sales after they created a website.

    If anyone can confirm this or has any additional marketing methods, I would like to hear from you.

    Does anyone in this industry use Cold calls to generate sales? If not, what would you suggest to a new Security company?

    Thanks for any comments on this topic,

    Raymond A. Miller III
    Pres-CEO
    Intelligent Ops International, Inc.
    Security and Investigative Service

  • #2
    Originally posted by mbmx13
    I was curious how most Security companies get their business. I tried to research the methods used by firms in my area but I was unable to find anything related. I spoke with a sales representative from Verizon Yellow Pages and she called around before our appointment to research the Security and Investigations industry. She told me that most people that she spoke to in my area noticed an increase in sales after they created a website.

    If anyone can confirm this or has any additional marketing methods, I would like to hear from you.

    Does anyone in this industry use Cold calls to generate sales? If not, what would you suggest to a new Security company?

    Thanks for any comments on this topic,

    Raymond A. Miller III
    Pres-CEO
    Intelligent Ops International, Inc.
    Security and Investigative Service
    Alright, first I'll get the pitch out of the way... Most people who look for security companies do one of three things:

    1. They grab the phone book and start calling every guard service in town, and asking for prices. That's the "WE NEED A GUARD NOW" type.
    2. They search the Google or the MSN and search for "Where can I find a security guard in Bob Dole, California?" A lot of people still use full questions in their searches, which is kinda funny.
    3. They network. They are members of their Chambers of Commerce and they ask around.

    My suggestion to a new company would be to get a website. Some people want information without the sales pitch or face-to-face contact. Others want it when you're closed, like right now. As long as you have content, you can have a website. I know this, well, because I make them, and we're catering to the security industry now.

    My second suggestion is to join your Chamber of Commerce and use it to network heavily. When a property manager thinks "I need a new guard service," they're going to remember you and how well spoken and knowledgeable and likable you are, because they see you all the time at the CoC meetings and functions. Your CoC can also help you market. Its an investment, to be sure, you'll have monthly dues and such, but it gets the name out there quickly.

    Cold calls, well... I personally don't like the things except as follow-ups. Direct Mailings sent to people in charge, by name, of purchasing security services are a good introduction. If you use full sized envelopes and mark them as CONFIDENTIAL, it will look less like direct mail advertisement and the secretary may be less apt to open it since it says CONFIDENTIAL. My old boss related that piece of information to me, noting his wife worked as an Executive Assistant to a Fortune 500 CEO and she never opened his mail with restriction markings.

    Networking, in my belief, is superior to cold calls. People tend to buy from individuals associated with companies. A website can be part of the networking, as well.

    There's also some other stuff that we do along with creating a website and hosting it. We work with companies to do some packages, such as creating shoulder patches and badge designs, business cards and brochures, and other "security related" things.

    I guess we've become more of a consultancy than an out and out "build a website" shop when it comes to security companies, especially startups.

    Feel free to PM me if you have need of services. I've worked on a few accounts which involved everything from new badge designs to updating shoulder patch designs to new squad graphics, as well as brochures and business cards.

    (I love making business cards, there's a lot you can do with them, especially with glossy paper CYMK print services like we use.)
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mbmx13
      I was curious how most Security companies get their business.

      Raymond A. Miller III
      Pres-CEO
      Intelligent Ops International, Inc.
      Security and Investigative Service
      "Marketing", of course, is not "sales". Marketing is a distinct, long-term strategic management function that begins with deciding exactly "who you are" as a company, meaning first of all knowing exactly what market space you intend to compete in, and then figuring out what that decision implies in terms of what services you must offer, the expertise that you must have to compete effectively, what kind of people you must be able to field, and other related matters, such as how those people must be trained, equipped and supervised.

      Once you have your marketing strategy in hand, you prepare to compete according to the mandates of your strategy. There is a bit of the chicken-and-the-egg quality to this in the security industry. Because of the normal long lead times involved in the contract bid-and-award process, you must be preparing to serve contracts that you do not yet have. This implies some up-front investment not unlike someone opening a widget factory, who must invest in the building and other plant assets like machinery, and in the people to make widgets, before they can make a credible bid on a widget contract. This is the major "risk" or speculative aspect of being in business.

      I believe in high-quality websites, but don't look for any immediate or significant sales-related benefit from a website in this industry other than casual, one-off, "walk-in" type business (the client who needs a security officer for two days while the alarm system is being fixed, etc.). Whether you even want such business is probably highly questionable. The value of your website (and this is why I stress "high-quality") is primarily for its long-term presentation of the salient facts about your company, your executive staff, your expertise, your services, etc...AND for its role in attracting (and enabling Web-based) resumes and job applications from the kind of people you want to hire. We have people like Mr. Corbier on this forum who can bring considerable expertise to your Web presence, and any consulting or development fees that they might charge is MONEY WELL SPENT, because the reverse is true. A good website won't directly make sales for you, but a bad one WILL KILL SALES if prospects use it as a "screening" tool.

      I find that many security business owners are not versed in either marketing or sales, and if you fit that description and I were consulting with you, I would advise a quick education in the SPECIAL subject of SERVICE COMPANY market strategy, which is very different from PRODUCT marketing because of the unique differences between services and products. Among the most important differences is the fact that products have a shelf life (be it short or long), while services do not. The widgets I made last month and didn't sell, I might sell this month, or perhaps the next. This modifies my risk in making widgets "on spec". On the other hand, any services that I could have offered in March and failed to sell are simply gone, because March is gone.

      A few outstanding books on marketing for service companies would be well-advised reading, so let me recommend some:
      • Market Leadership Strategies for Service Companies by Craig Terrill and Arthur Middlebrooks. Focuses on understanding what makes service businesses different from "product" companies, and then on what makes one service business unique from its external competitors. So this is more of a "strategic principles" book than one about specific marketing methods.
      • Marketing Your Service Business by Ian Ruskin-Brown. Has more of a "methods-focus" than Terrill/Middlebrooks above.
      • Smart Services: Competitive Information Strategies, Solutions and Success Stories for Service Businesses by Deborah C. Sawyer. A word of caution - Sawyer uses the notion of "competition" in a somewhat unconventional, but interesting, way. By "competition", she means "any impediment to your success", whether internal (inefficient processes, for instance) or external (what we usually think of as "competition"). Sawyer's book is about conducting competitive intelligence in the service sector and she has an excellent discussion about why CI is much more difficult than in other sectors...something that you allude to in your original post about having trouble discovering what others are doing. Sawyer suggests ways around these difficulties.


      Until you have a marketing strategy in place, and especially without knowing considerably more about your market, the only thing we can really offer here is a recitation of the rather worn methods that "everyone else does", which are probably already familiar to you.

      Good luck!
      Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-12-2007, 10:37 PM.
      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

      Comment


      • #4
        Excellent advice from Mr. Corbier and Mr. Trainer. I agree with them both. A great website is important because if a prospective client is surfing, it's their first impression of your company. I personally have been advised to stay away from flash because it is distracting. However, a great website is just one of the components needed for success.

        Networking in your community (or communities) is absolutely essential. At the end of the day, however, providing a great service and building a reputation will, over the long term, lead to the greatest success. Providing a service that adds value to that of your competition will also lead to success. It may be a adding some new technology, or it may be your hiring process that attracts better candidates which along with a better wage and benefits, results in lower turnover, higher efficiency, higher efficacy, etc.

        Since I don't know very much about you, please forgive me if I'm "preaching to the choir".

        Once all that is in place, the networking, client referrals, the great website, will all start having an impact.

        I'm not a big fan of large yellow book ads. I think you have to have a listing but generally, most of the calls you will get will be for temporary work.

        Mr. Trainer is right on with his point about the difference between sales and marketing. Part of the marketing process is determining where you should concentrate your efforts. Do you expand geographically, vertically, etc. As an example, if 30% of your contracts in the health care industry, you may be able to capatalize on a niche market opportunity.

        Then you have to spread the word. Media advertising doesn't work well for our industry except for the print media in industry publications. An ad in Security Management magazine (ASIS publication) ain't cheap.

        Of course you could always hire a sales force. I can't tell you how many large companies have ramped up a sales force, then change strategies and gone back to incenting their branch managers to develop business.

        The sales cycle is longer than many people think. A sales person with a base salary and car allowance or whatever, can be a worthless investment if time limits aren't set for productivity. And, they have to be managed or they will be out playing golf with us consultants every chance they get.

        The only new point I have in this post is that you may want to consider telemarketing as an economical way of getting qualified appointments for you and your senior staff. I have had good success with that on several occasions. They also have to be managed and should be asking the right questions: Current Provider? Contract Renewal Date? Level of Satisfaction? Bill Rate? (you can't believe what some of these prospective clients will really tell you). Keep this information in a database for future use.

        Good Luck!
        Richard Dickinson
        Dickinson Security Management Group, LLC
        DSMG Provides a Variety of Software Products and Consulting Services to the Contract Security Industry
        www.hrdickinson.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by hrdickinson
          The sales cycle is longer than many people think. A sales person with a base salary and car allowance or whatever, can be a worthless investment if time limits aren't set for productivity. And, they have to be managed or they will be out playing golf with us consultants every chance they get.
          True...and not an insignificant portion of the cycle (the bid review/award phase of the cycle) is out of your hands.

          Submitting the right bid - or how you price yourself - is rarely thought of as a "marketing technique" but we should think of it that way just as we certainly would if we were selling bananas and had to decide what price to charge per bunch. For almost anything but those (IMHO, highly undesirable) simple "one-off" temporary jobs, this means using some sort of software. While this can be something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet (and spreadsheets ain't always simple!), you might want to consider whether a "specialized" bidding application might not be a very good early investment in your overall marketing strategy...before you hire that salesman and lease a car for him, in fact.

          The advantage of such specialized software is deceptively simple: Unlike a "home-brewed" spreadsheet that you create for yourself, it makes sure that you consider EVERYTHING in your cost analysis of a potential contract. The road to success in this industry is virtually littered with the wrecks of those who "forgot to figure in the gasoline expense", did not cost out the overhead properly, or made some other glaring error such as miscalculating the holiday pay. Also, the people who create this software have built in their experience with certain cost and revenue factors that would otherwise remain obscure to you.

          In fact, the ability to create a "good bid" that represents the best price at which you can stay in business will even make you happy (sort of) when you don't win the contract, because you know you would not have profited from it anyway...and such unprofitable contracts should ALWAYS go to your worst competitor if you can possibly manage it.

          I'm reminded of Lucy and Ethel, who knew that they were losing money on every quart of "Aunt Martha's Salad Dressing", but figured they'd make it up in volume.

          Take a look at "AutoRate" by the Dickinson Security Management Consulting Group (follow this link to the product description)...and no, I have no financial interest whatsoever in making this recommendation.
          "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

          "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

          "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

          "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

          Comment


          • #6
            Let me preface this by saying I hate Flash. Flash is good for rich media presentations, however, it will kill your search engine ranking unless steps are taken. I hate Flash.

            Now... The "distraction" part is important. A lot of us block or tune out annoyances online. Your coolio Flash website does either one of two things: It impresses people within the first three seconds, or it annoys them and they leave.

            In most cases, unless you have a lot of rich media to offer, its going to annoy them. Content is more important than presentation. When you have crap content, it doesn't matter if there are explodey sounds and fireworks... Its still crap content.
            Some Kind of Commando Leader

            "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
              Let me preface this by saying I hate Flash. Flash is good for rich media presentations, however, it will kill your search engine ranking unless steps are taken. I hate Flash.
              As someone who has used Flash extensively (and other media publishing tools), I certainly can't say that I hate Flash, as long as it's appropriate to the content and is contained within the website rather than being forced on people as the introductory or "home" page that everyone must either view or cancel out of before getting to the site itself. It has no place whatsoever as an introductory/home page, IMHO.

              Unfortunately, once many novice website designers master a little Flash capability, they become like the man who only has a hammer in his toolkit, to whom every task looks like a nail that needs pounding.
              Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-13-2007, 10:52 AM.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SecTrainer
                As someone who has used Flash extensively (and other media publishing tools), I certainly can't say that I hate Flash, as long as it's appropriate to the content and is contained within the website rather than being forced on people as the introductory or "home" page that everyone must either view or cancel out of before getting to the site itself. It has no place whatsoever as an introductory/home page, IMHO.
                Flash, when used correctly to convey rich media content, is great. Its when the entire site is in Flash, and there's no other method of accessing the content, especially with lots of "zazz" and pretty presentation to convey very little that I start to hate it.
                Some Kind of Commando Leader

                "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
                  Flash, when used correctly to convey rich media content, is great. Its when the entire site is in Flash, and there's no other method of accessing the content, especially with lots of "zazz" and pretty presentation to convey very little that I start to hate it.
                  We agree perfectly.
                  "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                  "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                  "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                  "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Can someone tell me why more smaller companies don't use recruiting as the marketing tool it is? Security is a people business. They're going to click to see what kind of people you're after, and how seriously you take recruiting for qualified applicants.
                    Some Kind of Commando Leader

                    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SecTrainer
                      Take a look at "AutoRate" by the Dickinson Security Management Consulting Group (follow this link to the product description)...and no, I have no financial interest whatsoever in making this recommendation.
                      S.T., thanks for the plug!
                      Richard Dickinson
                      Dickinson Security Management Group, LLC
                      DSMG Provides a Variety of Software Products and Consulting Services to the Contract Security Industry
                      www.hrdickinson.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by hrdickinson
                        S.T., thanks for the plug!
                        Not at all - you have done a very credible job filling this niche.
                        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think this illustrates the networking aspect quite well. We all "know" each other around here. Its easier to recommend services from people you know.

                          Oh, and SecTrainer, thanks for the referrals.

                          I'm going to sleep now.
                          Some Kind of Commando Leader

                          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
                            SecTrainer, thanks for the referrals.
                            Not at all. When we have subject experts like you, Mr. Dickinson, and others available who can put wind beneath the wings of those who want to grow their businesses, it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel ourselves when we could be doing what only we can do - running our business.

                            If I were going to start a security business today, the first three things I'd do would be:

                            1. Consult with Mr. Dickinson on general management issues, and license a copy of AutoRate so that my very first contract bid would not be the one that kills my business in its infancy. I'd probably also be holding some private dialogs with SecurityConsultant, Bill Warnock, Mall Director and other senior board members, depending on what niche I was targeting. It never ceases to amaze me how willing these people are to share experience that has cost them many years and many tears to acquire.

                            2. Consult with Mr. Corbier on my website design, get my domain name registered and get the site "on the air", pronto.

                            3. Commence a competitive intelligence program from day 1. If anyone is interested in how to conduct CI, feel free to PM me for some things you can be doing while you're waiting for that first client to clock in.
                            Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-14-2007, 01:53 AM.
                            "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                            "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                            "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                            "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                            Comment

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