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  • Marketing/PR Ideas

    A few members have recently been asking about marketing/promoting their businesses. Strictly speaking, "PR" is only one cog in the "marketing strategy" of a company and rarely results directly in sales. However, it has a massive cumulative effect if done properly, and if you understand that PR is something you must do regularly, and must do for as long as you're in business, no matter how successful you become.

    Here are a few ideas to toss into the hopper. None of these is intended to produce sales. They are intended to get the name of your company out there, establish an image of expertise with regard to yourself, and also to present your company as a concerned member of the community.

    1. Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper: Every day, or at least every week, there is an article in your local newspaper that pertains directly to security and/or safety in the community - for instance, a "home invasion robbery". These articles offer opportunities for you to offer brief overviews of possible solutions and/or advice on those topics. Be sure to write the letter ASAP after the article appears, written on your company letterhead of course, and include your company title in your signature line.

    2. Community Newsletter/Shopper/Website: Almost every community these days has a community shopper-type paper and/or one or MORE websites devoted to community information. Some of these are operated by private individuals, some by the Chamber of Commerce or other benevolent organizations like the Lions Club, etc. These are often looking for content to publish...and you can provide them with an article on a security/safety topic. They also offer either free or very cheap ad rates.

    3. Find out what public-affairs programs are aired on local radio/TV (and don't forget the "local" cable TV channel). These are also looking for guests and content.

    4. Consider publishing a monthly newsletter for businesses in your area, addressing specific security/safety topics of particular urgency or interest. You can often get a lot of crime information from the police department that will both serve as content and help you select topics for articles. For instance, say there has been an increase in smash-and-grab attacks. This is both information as content, and guides you to write (or reprint, with permission) an article on the types of safety glass for shop windows.

    Some of the content can simply information about the community not directly related to security, but of interest to business owners, such as important new or expansion building permit applications filed this week/month.

    Delivery methods might vary: Most would be mailed at literature rates...but consider that you might want to deliver some in person, or have your patrol unit make a "special stop" to deliver some (it's once a month, no big deal). This would, of course, be your sharpest officer and the patrol unit would be sparkling clean. All he does is just ask for the manager, hand them the newsletter in an attractive envelope, and say "The owner of our company asked me to deliver this to you personally. Have a nice day!"...and leaves.

    Caveat: If you start this, you must publish it faithfully and on time, every time.

    5. Pro-bono (free) home checks for emergency-hospitalized seniors. Ever think about an elderly person who is suddenly taken to the hospital and has no children living in the area? What do you think they are most worried about? Their home, of course, and perhaps a partner left alone at home. What if they knew someone would drive their car home from the shopping center where they had collapsed, make sure everything had been locked up, the gas and water turned off, the alarm activated, etc., and then would check the home periodically? You can arrange with the ER department manager of your local hospital to contact you when this sort of situation arises and your company attorney can figure out all the fine points.

    6. Actively support and participate in every community fund-raising event possible - especially those for the fire, police and EMS services.

    7. Create a $500 or $1000 annual scholarship in your company's name for a deserving student from the community who is attending college and majoring in the security or other safety domains. Make the award on the basis of an essay plus need. A scholarship is a "gift that keeps on giving" in the sense that you can:

    a. Create a "scholarship board" made up of influential citizens (hint - security directors and others who are influential in purchasing security services).
    b. Publicize everything about the scholarship process every year - announcing the essay contest, publishing some of the essays, announcing the winner(s), etc....

    8. Consider engaging a local PR consultant to give you basic advice on how to write your own company news releases and get them into the media. You'll get far more value from the advice than you pay for it. Remember to publish your news releases on your own website as well! (NOTE: Be sure to vet all news releases to avoid publishing strategic or operational information that should not be broadcast.)

    9. Learn about or engage a consultant in the fine art of "search engine placement" for your website. This must include the *proper* use of website metadata such as keywords that will be used by search engines to index your website.

    10. Publish "white papers" on your website. These are basically essays on topics directly related to the security needs/concerns of potential clients, and the services you offer. An example might be: "Pro's and Con's of Guard Patrol Reporting Systems"..."Getting the Most From Your Security Contractor", etc.

    11. Consider offering inexpensive, rapid-delivery services that can "fill up the cracks" in your patrol units' schedule and give you an "entree" to more comprehensive services with that client in the future. For instance, from 10:30 PM to 10:45 PM, a patrol unit puts in a "presence" in the parking lot while employees are going to their cars. That's the initial extent of the service to that company...for the moment! A service like this can be offered relatively inexpensively...perhaps even at cost (but know what "cost" is!) if you see additional business from that company down the road. Even a minor service like this gives you a reason to communicate regularly with the right people in that company, almost as much as if you had a major contract.

    What about offering to give light duty (parking lot sweep) to houses of worship as your unit passes by them? See item #12.

    12. Houses of worship in your area use security services, traffic control during services, etc. There are opportunities here to offer either pro-bono or low-cost services that will put you in front of all the parishioners attending that church/synagogue, etc. A lot of company executives attend church, believe me!

    13. Consider whether there are positions within your own company that could be "reserved" or "modified" for special-needs/handicapped employees. Until you look into the subject, you'll never realize how much people who are blind, deaf or have other handicaps can do. When you become involved in hiring such people, you will find yourself in contact with a whole substrate of the community that you might otherwise never meet, including people at various service agencies who also assist such people.

    14. Find out about "career day" at the local high school and sponsor a "security professions" booth.

    15. Write articles for trade publications. Please note that I do not mean "security trade publications"!! I mean trade publications that your potential CLIENTS would read. It's not uncommon, for instance, for retail grocery trade rags to carry articles about grocery store theft prevention.

    Presuming that you have a short list of potential clients that you intend to pursue (you DO have such a list, do you not?), it's a simple matter to go to the Research Desk or Business Section area of any public/university library and find out what trade periodicals are published in any particular field (including address, editorial policy, what type of submissions they accept and even the acceptable format). Ask the research librarian to help you. TIP: Tell the librarian EXACTLY what you're after: "I need to know what trade publications a grocery store manager would read." By being that precise (instead of asking for "retail magazines", for instance), she can help you much faster and much more accurately. Don't ask for "healthcare" periodicals if what you want is "walk-in community clinic" trade journals.

    Naturally, any actual services mentioned above that you might provide, even on a pro-bono or cost basis, will require formal service agreements that address basic issues such as liability and performance expectations. Any halfway competent company counsel should be able to address these successfully with special modified "contracts", which likely would include phrases such as "Smith Security makes no representations or guarantees regarding the frequency of patrol provided....", etc. (Note that these are LEGAL phrases to limit your liability, etc. However, they do NOT excuse you on a practical level from adequate performance if you hope to obtain the PR and other future benefits you were seeking when you offered to provide the service in the first place. You have to take such obligations just as seriously as any "full-pay" contract.) If your lawyer(s) can't handle this sort of thing, get yourself some better counsel, pronto.

    There are obviously hundreds, if not thousands, of other ideas, but perhaps these will start you thinking creatively. There are also hundreds of books that have been written on this subject in case you're stuck for more ideas.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-14-2007, 12:33 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

  • #2
    ... Stop reading my mind.

    Printed out.
    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
      SecTrainer... You brought up some fantastic ideas!
      "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu

      Comment


      • #4
        Now do you see my friends why this forum is so important to all of us in the security profession?
        That is the reason many of us are annoyed at flibbertigibbets and other malcontents who fail to grasp the workings of true security.
        Security Training I agree with the other posters; you are to be congratulated for such a very superb posting.
        Enjoy the day,
        Bill

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by N. A. Corbier
          ... Stop reading my mind.

          Printed out.
          Nate, one thing I didn't mention (or mentioned only in a peripheral way) was the idea of an E-zine and/or blog published on the website. Are you equipped to assist people with such applications (for instance, one that would take free subscription information), and if so, what do you see to be the downsides, security issues, etc. if any? I admit that I've not kept up with this latest trend.

          My idea regarding the blog is that people could talk about security/crime issues in the community, share ideas, etc. Is there some way that this could be done without becoming a "graffiti" opportunity, if you know what I mean?
          Last edited by SecTrainer; 04-15-2007, 01:54 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


          • #6
            I hope that every security company owner in this forum reads Security Trainer's post and appreciates the time and thought it took to lay that out for them.

            I have to think that implementing each of his ideas (in every market in which they operate) would have a fairly significant impact on their growth.

            And for those that are comfortable where they are, don't forget that client attrition is a fact of life in this industry and every owner should be busy generating leads to replace those clients that will, sooner or later, terminate their contract.
            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


            • #7
              Originally posted by hrdickinson
              I hope that every security company owner in this forum reads Security Trainer's post and appreciates the time and thought it took to lay that out for them.

              I have to think that implementing each of his ideas (in every market in which they operate) would have a fairly significant impact on their growth.

              And for those that are comfortable where they are, don't forget that client attrition is a fact of life in this industry and every owner should be busy generating leads to replace those clients that will, sooner or later, terminate their contract.
              Thanks for your kind words, sir. I hope someone profits from the suggestions, and that others will bring their own ideas as well.
              "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 hrdickinson
                And for those that are comfortable where they are, don't forget that client attrition is a fact of life in this industry and every owner should be busy generating leads to replace those clients that will, sooner or later, terminate their contract.
                If you have more than 25% of all your income in one account, figure out how to make your expenses next month if that client dropped. Attrition isn't just "They don't like our service." They could burn to the ground the next day, or be convicted of tax fraud, or even sell their company.
                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
                  If you have more than 25% of all your income in one account, figure out how to make your expenses next month if that client dropped. Attrition isn't just "They don't like our service." They could burn to the ground the next day, or be convicted of tax fraud, or even sell their company.
                  Nate, the last point you make here is very important. Many things can interrupt the business of your customer.

                  For instance, we live in a time when intercompany relationships are very "intimate" (consider "just-in-time ordering", for example), and are described in terms of "partnerships". This means that a disaster that happens to an "upstream partner" of your customer can be a disaster for that customer and that, in turn, can capsize you.

                  These are some of the things we think about when we do risk analysis for our clients. In the "new economy", risk is very different than it has been in the past because of the very close dependencies among trading partners, suppliers, and the whole distribution chain. These dependencies, like so many things in the brave new world, have been made possible and encouraged by the Internet, and they do allow companies to operate more efficiently, leaner and meaner...but the downside is that the risks to your customers are also increased, and we have to consider many contingencies that we knew nothing about just a decade or two back.
                  "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
                    Indeed. Its even worse in web design and IT businesses. I have multiple contractors who do things like Flash, Graphics Design, etc. Especially if its something I'm not good at, or someone wants a certain "look" that I know the contractor excels at. If they fail, I fail. And their failure could be as simple as "*Beep Beep Beep* Yo, comcast just killed internet in my subdivision."

                    It is always a good idea to build redundancy into your upstream providers as well as your clients (cash flow.) For hosting, example, if upstream kacks and all my clients sites go down, they will be moved to the secondary upstream accounts within a few hours, if not sooner. If you aren't ready to juggle, you're doomed.
                    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 N. A. Corbier
                      Indeed. Its even worse in web design and IT businesses. I have multiple contractors who do things like Flash, Graphics Design, etc. Especially if its something I'm not good at, or someone wants a certain "look" that I know the contractor excels at. If they fail, I fail. And their failure could be as simple as "*Beep Beep Beep* Yo, comcast just killed internet in my subdivision."

                      It is always a good idea to build redundancy into your upstream providers as well as your clients (cash flow.) For hosting, example, if upstream kacks and all my clients sites go down, they will be moved to the secondary upstream accounts within a few hours, if not sooner. If you aren't ready to juggle, you're doomed.
                      I've used twin sites on fixed addresses with IP forwarding. Then I could switch the forwarding address as needed if one went down. The only thing that anyone would notice was that perhaps the last few minutes' forum postings would seem to have "disappeared" based on the update timing.
                      "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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