As alarm system technology expands to increase your safety and convenience, more companies – and types of companies – are competing for your business. It’s an interesting time for the traditional alarm providers, some of whom have yet to realize the benefits of adding interactive features, video, and smart home automation to basic services like intrusion and fire monitoring. But one thing is certain: if you are not selling the expanded services, you risk being viewed as a dinosaur – and we are pretty sure what happened to them!
For example, we’ve seen cable companies, phone companies, and even big-box retailers selling home alarms systems that include the cool new features. What is really important to the homeowner is still monitored home security – we know that from multiple surveys – and it will probably remain at the top of the list as a priority. But the new services are attractive, and are broadening the overall market for home security. And as consumers are confronted by a potentially confusing array of offers, it’s worth spending a little time focusing on how these products and services are presented.
Online marketing is challenging for companies to master, but it can be the most effective. Once you as the consumer have determined that you want home security, the most convenient method is to search online. From the alarm company’s perspective, people searching online are the best customers, since they are looking for a system to begin with: there is nothing better than a motivated buyer.
Many reputable alarm companies have informative web sites that explain the technology, and let you “build” (and price) your system. Even better, there are plenty of credible review sites where you can check out a company you are considering (Yelp, Epinions, and Angie’s List come to mind, but there are others). Once you find the system you want, be sure to check out the provider fully. It helps to get quotes form more than company to compare, and there should be no pressure to buy. And don’t forget another site for valuable information: the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
As opposed to you searching online on your own initiative, which is often referred to as “pull” marketing, the telemarketing and direct mail methods fall into the “push” category. You may not have home security on the top of your list, until you open your email – or receive an unsolicited call – and are presented with an offer that usually looks pretty good.
And sometimes the offer is good… but not always. There are many “teaser” approaches used in the direct marketing method to get your attention, and then what you actually end up paying for – to get the protection you need, want, and deserve – is a lot more than that original offer. Take these initials offers with a grain of salt, and be ready for a higher price tag when you’re done.
The door-to-door approach is definitely the most “pushy'”method, and is actually the hardest way to sell an alarm system. But there are lots of companies selling this way. Complaints are the highest with this method, as are the cancellation rates: the problem is that the homeowner is often subjected to an aggressive sales pitch for something they were not even thinking about in the first place. This method is so challenging that some companies have resorted (“unofficially,” of course) to trying to steal customers away from other alarm companies.
In fact, some of these doorknockers will seek out yard signs of a competitor alarm company, and then concoct some story for the homeowner – such as that they have bought that other company, or that they are there to upgrade the equipment, etc. Reports of this type of fraud are increasingly easy to find in the news – along with the lawsuits and fines that result from this behavior. Of course, only some doorknockers operate this way, but this incidence of deceitful practice is on the rise. The BBB is a good source of reference on these companies: do the research before you sign anything.
There are other methods, but the three listed above account for the majority of alarm system sales. Our favorite is online, since that puts more power in the hands of the consumer – to get what they want, when they want it, from a company they can easily research.
Remember, it’s your family and your home that you are protecting, so make sure that you are 100% comfortable with the decision you make. And don’t forget those added interactive services, including home automation. If you’ve never experienced the convenience of controlling your lights, locks and thermostats with an app on your cell phone, you are in for a treat. Have fun shopping!