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  • B2B Marketing

    For the most part, security companies sell their services and products to business and/or government clients. B2B (business-to-business) marketing is a very different animal from what the majority of us are most familiar with, which is B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing, one aspect of which is the advertising that we see on TV, read in "popular" magazines, hear on the radio, etc.

    (I say "one aspect" because, contrary to popular misconception, marketing is about much more than advertising. Marketing involves your service or product strategy, positioning, pricing, etc.. Advertising is just one piece of marketing.)

    It is a great mistake to think you can market your security company in the same way that Nike sells shoes to consumers or the way that your pizza parlor convinces you to order their weekly special. B2B marketing usually doesn't involve mass media or any of the "three C's" (coupons, contests and catchy slogans). In other words, virtually everything you know about marketing that you've learned from being a consumer your whole life has absolutely NO relevance to marketing your security company.

    Here are some points to ponder:

    1. Your B2B marketing strategy must be aligned in some way with a client's value chain or, even better, with his supply chain and/or distribution network (the client's total-value network). This means that "one-size-fits-all", shotgun types of marketing techniques like those used in B2C marketing rarely work very well. You need to know something about what your prospect does and how he does it, and tailor your message to his core processes. At the very least, you should understand something about the industry he's in.

    2. Arising from the point in #1 above, it can be very difficult to know very much about many different industries or types of industries (e.g., heavy manufacturing, light manufacturing, construction, retail, hospitality, etc.). This suggests that you might wish to consider what niche you might like to occupy. For instance, your immediate geographic area (see #3) might have a lot of light industry, a lot of motels, or it might be dominated by retail stores. Can you specialize in the dominant types of businesses in your area? Yes, you can (see "Specializing" below).

    3. Whether you're a security products, services or consulting firm, you gotta start somewhere, and geography should be a big consideration in just what "somewhere" means for your firm (there are exceptions). There are lots of newbies who fell flat on their can chasing business all over town when what they should have done was to (a) locate their business in or near the main concentration of the business type selected in #2 above and then (b) ploughed that field thoroughly before looking elsewhere for new business.

    There are several reasons for this suggestion:

    a. Many clients really prefer to do business with other businesses that are nearby more than with businesses that are considered to be "out of the area". Just what "out of the area" means varies from venue to venue.

    b. Your familiarity with the area and its security-related problems will presumably be greater.

    c. You benefit from concentrating your marketing efforts to prospects that are within easy reach. Less time-consuming and less costly.

    d. Assuming you're not working out of your house (you're not, are you?), there's the possibility that the prospect will pass your office (with it's conspicuous yet professional signage, of course) every day on his way to the office or while out doing business of his own.

    NOTE: This is one of the few things you can borrow from B2C marketing - having a conspicuous, yet professional-appearing physical presence located in the heart of your target market.

    SPECIALIZING: Okay - so your research has shown that there's a 5 x 10 mile swath of light industry within striking distance. Before you rent an office on one of the main drags and forked over some bucks for logo design, signage, etc. you have to ask yourself a critical question: Why would even one of these business owners want my products/services? There's only one answer: Because doing so will positively impact their value chain.

    Well, not really. The whole answer is: "My products/services will positively impact X Company's value chain by...." (now list at least five ways you're going to do this).

    Whoops! We don't even have a clue what X Company's value chain is yet, do we? To figure this out, we need to ask (and answer) some other questions. There are many, but here's a couple of starters:

    1. Just what does X Company DO? A good start is: "They make fiberglass shells for pickup trucks, and other things".

    2. What do we know or can we find out about the process of making fiberglass shells? What materials are used? Where do they come from? What skilled labor is required? What kind of machinery or tools are used?

    As I said, there are many other questions you can ask to drill down into the value chain, from materials and suppliers all the way out the other end to the distribution network. But, let's take just the second question and see what it gives us by way of linkages from your product/service to the X Company value chain:

    Suppose, for instance, that the fiberglass manufacturing process requires the use of hexatetrachloronitropolymonourethanopicklerelish, or HTCNPMUPR. Now, HTCNPMUPR is also used in meth labs. Or, HTCNPMUPR is an ingredient that terrorists have used in their explosives. Or, HTCNPMUPR is scarce and expensive, and has a vigorous black market. Might we have identified a link to security?

    Are the tools used by Company X high-dollar items susceptible to theft?

    Is skilled labor hard to come by? This will be an increasing problem for most companies in the foreseeable future as baby boomers retire, and guess what? A lack of safety/security in the workplace is one of the chief reasons people leave their jobs, refuse to work night shifts, etc. Turnover is extremely costly.

    By now, you should be getting the idea. The more you know about X Company the better. There are all kinds of industry-by-industry resources available to help you learn at least the basics about any industry under the sun. Once you've done that, check out industry trade publications, etc. to see what they're talking about.

    Is this a critical infrastructure industry? Look for government sources on both mandates and/or suggestions about security.

    Who are their customers? Check out the Website because lots of companies brag about this. Is the DoD one of them? What do you know about the DoD security requirements for contracted suppliers/vendors?

    Drive by the company at least twice (once at night) or three times (weekend) and see what physical security problems you can identify from the street. Try to see if you can identify five or more. Examples:

    1. Employee parking is not isolated from the loading and/or receiving docks.

    2. Lighting is inadequate.

    3. The guard in the gate shack is talking on his cell phone continuously, or snoozing.

    4. You watch for two hours and never see a perimeter fence or parking lot patrol being conducted.

    5. Finished product is stacked on pallets in an unprotected area.

    6. Raw materials, ditto #5.

    7. "Waste" products, ditto #5 (yes, people will steal this stuff, too, which should in many cases be going into some sort of recovery process).

    8. Vehicles such as delivery vans are permitted to park within a few feet of the front entrance. (Hello, Tim McVeigh!)

    Then, there's HUMINT. Are there industry experts who maintain blogs? Are there forums, news lists, etc? Relevant government agencies? So long as you politely ask these people a FEW very SPECIFIC questions and you show that you already know something about the industry, they'll usually help for free.

    You'll want to stop by the city planning office to find out whether X Company has filed for building permits (expansion), etc.

    You might want to stop by the local PD's crime analysis office to see what they can tell you about the area around X Company.

    You might want to check local newspaper archives for recent articles about X Company. (Don't forget the local business newspaper! Communities of any size have these.) Who are the company executives? Search on their names, too.

    ...and all of this information becomes grist for your answer: "My product/service will help X Company's value chain by...."

    NOW you start your marketing campaign, aimed directly at the decision-makers of X Company. Just exactly what services or products are you going to offer? How will they be unique for X Company? Plan on all of this taking some time unless you happen to fall into a "special situation" (just had an incident with their existing security firm, etc.).

    B2B marketing is about building relationships...NOT impulse buying!
    "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
    Yet another informative post from Sec. T. Always good to read and re-read these posts as it is often a reflection how most busineses overlook their core objectives.

    Most importantly, you need to remember to identify your niche market and stay with it or expand to other areas of opportunity. When I had my own security firm I did not supply general security staff for static duties as I could not see the sense in competing again dollar profit firms who to compete must underpay their staff (usually new immigrants or students) at flat rates to maintain their margins. I concentrated on high risk sites where we offered a complete service so that the average hourly pay per S/O (based on rosters) might be $20.00 US/Hr and we could charge $45.00 US/ hr with say a net profit of $15.00 US/hr (less labour oncosts, etc).

    I worked on the proviso that a new client cost me $1,000.00 in unpaid time, money and effort and once securing the right client and maintaing that relationship, was able to argue why a premium service could be paid for and delivered in our relationship.
    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by NRM_Oz View Post
      Yet another informative post from Sec. T. Always good to read and re-read these posts as it is often a reflection how most busineses overlook their core objectives.

      Most importantly, you need to remember to identify your niche market and stay with it or expand to other areas of opportunity. When I had my own security firm I did not supply general security staff for static duties as I could not see the sense in competing again dollar profit firms who to compete must underpay their staff (usually new immigrants or students) at flat rates to maintain their margins. I concentrated on high risk sites where we offered a complete service so that the average hourly pay per S/O (based on rosters) might be $20.00 US/Hr and we could charge $45.00 US/ hr with say a net profit of $15.00 US/hr (less labour oncosts, etc).

      I worked on the proviso that a new client cost me $1,000.00 in unpaid time, money and effort and once securing the right client and maintaing that relationship, was able to argue why a premium service could be paid for and delivered in our relationship.
      You've just said a mouthful! In fact, there are about 5 valuable lessons you've given us here.

      1. Select a niche and stick with it.

      2. Go where the big boys ain't.

      3. Deliver "premium" services that give you the opportunity to charge top dollar.

      4. It costs money, time and effort to get a client.

      5. This is a relationship-based business and you'll up-sell to clients more easily when they think of you, literally, as their partner in maximizing their business.
      "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
        I have found that in this business, with my years of experience, that security does not make money for a client and it is very hard to measure what we have deterred in the form of crime etc. Very hard to show a ROI or Return on investment. I have used a few phrases and have not had a lot of success so far.... "Security is like insurance, you never know when you will have to use it."

        I have used all aspects of marketing to include: website, newspaper, chamber, internet, phone book, etc...

        This post has been very helpful. I will definitely use what has been posted and let you know how it works.

        I have spent the last few days researching different ways to bolster my business. Having a real hard time selling armed officers in my area. I don't think it should be this hard. I must not be doing something right.
        "If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."
        -Vince Lombardi

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MRSE_S3 View Post
          I have found that in this business, with my years of experience, that security does not make money for a client and it is very hard to measure what we have deterred in the form of crime etc. Very hard to show a ROI or Return on investment. I have used a few phrases and have not had a lot of success so far.... "Security is like insurance, you never know when you will have to use it."

          I have used all aspects of marketing to include: website, newspaper, chamber, internet, phone book, etc...

          This post has been very helpful. I will definitely use what has been posted and let you know how it works.

          I have spent the last few days researching different ways to bolster my business. Having a real hard time selling armed officers in my area. I don't think it should be this hard. I must not be doing something right.

          I would suggest that you stop trying to sell things to people. Instead attempt to build relationships with people where are you are able to fill a need that they have. With you being the security expert your relationship will allow you to help the business owner identify the needs that he or she has. Conduct assessments and make recommendations. Don't just try to sell hours but show them how they can implement effective security programs. If you can find ways that the business owner can implement systems that reduce the man hours needed you can translate that into higher wages and still save the business owner money; everyone wins.

          However, before you can do any of that you really need to know where your business is headed. Ask yourself these questions:

          Why are you in business?

          What do you need to do to make the 'why you are in business' reality?

          Once you understand the answers to those questions you will be in a better position to answer the: How?

          Comment

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