Selling home security is a highly competitive business. First of all, there roughly 13,000 alarm companies in the US alone: and even though most of them are smaller “Mom & Pop” providers with a limited geographic footprint, there is still a long list of companies chasing the same potential home security buyer. Plus, the “new entrants” to the industry (Cox, Time Warner, Comcast, and even AT&T) have made it even harder to compete. However, these cable and telco giants are also increasing consumer awareness of affordable home security, which benefits the good alarm companies already in business.
What vs. How
Yes, there is a common denominator in what most of these companies are selling: at the very least, basic monitored home security. Should that monitoring technology be safer cellular monitoring? Of course! And should all these companies be providing smarter interactive services, including remote access, live video, and home automation? You betcha! But today’s post is not so much about what alarm companies sell – it’s about how alarm companies sell.
Old Fashioned Methods
The traditional methods of selling home security included word-of-mouth referrals, limited advertising (remember a thing called the Yellow Pages?), and a good helping of good, old fashioned shoe leather. Direct mail also figured in the overall scheme of sourcing new customers. And of course, there were some companies using radio and TV ads. Pretty much all these methods are still in use now.
On the topic of shoe leather: yes, there was a bit of door knocking – although nothing like we see from today’s alarm door knockers, with all their high pressure sales, deceitful pitches, and even fraud that has been widely documented though the BBB and state Attorneys General across the US. When the Federal Trade Commission issues a warning about door knocking alarm companies, you know it’s a serious problem.
Raising the Bar
As technology created new marketing opportunities, alarm companies were there to try them out. For example, there were special mailing lists comprised of people who had moved. Buying targeted mailing lists was cheap – and pretty effective, until consumers clued in and stared recognizing “junk mail” for what it was. And let’s not forget the “cold call” version of telemarketing, which became pretty annoying until it was effectively stymied with the development of “do-not-call” lists and Federal legislation. Finally came the Internet, which can be remarkably effective: especially for truly nationwide companies like FrontPoint.
Push vs. Pull
Some observers classify marketing methods like door knocking, direct mail, and telemarketing as “push” marketing: an alarm company presents its products and services to consumers who were not necessarily looking for them, and will often use special offers and deep discounts to make the sale. The folks who “bite” on these offers are seldom the best long-term subscribers, for the obvious reason that they were probably not looking for home security services in the first place: it was the low-priced “teaser” offer that suckered them in, and that alone is generally not enough to keep them as customers over time.
Internet-based marketing, on the other hand, is more of a “pull” method, in that someone who is searching online for peace of mind and convenience through home security and home automation probably is more likely to purchase, and thereafter to remain a customer for years. It’s no coincidence that FrontPoint uses this latter method, and you can see it our industry-leading reputation and unparalleled rate of customer retention.
Robocalls – Telemarketing’s Dark Side
One more recent flavor of telemarketing is the robocall. You may have gotten one: you know, that call you get where there is a pause… followed by a recorded message, often containing an offer you can’t refuse. If you are like me, you resent these calls, and that’s where the “no-call-list” comes in: if you don’t want to get these calls, then you just register your phone number on the “do-not-call” list, and you should never receive any more unsolicited junk phone calls. By the way, if you have not registered your phone number, here’s where to get the information on how to do so.
Alarm Companies Break the Rules
However, we know that some alarm companies break the rules in this regard (as they do in other areas). In fact, a recent news report from Raleigh, North Carolina explains just what happened.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has filed a lawsuit against Mooresville, N.C.-based ISI Alarms North Carolina, claiming that the firm made illegal robocalls to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Registry. The lawsuit, filed against now defunct ISI Alarms and owner William Jason Waller, says the firm contacted more than 1,000 North Carolina consumers, claiming that the FBI or State Bureau of Investigation had received reports of break-ins in the area.
The automated calls prompted consumers to press a number to learn more about the crimes, which transferred call recipients to a call center operated by ISI Alarms, the Associated Press reports. The transfer led to a pitch for ISI’s home alarm system and monitoring services. Although the automated message gave consumers the option to press a different number to stop the calls, customers said it did not work. Additionally, many call recipients were listed on the “do-not-call” registry. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties.
Not the First Alarm Company
Of course, other alarm companies have been caught doing the same thing, even this year. Here’s another news report – this time from Jefferson City, Missouri.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against Sacramento, Calif.-based Maximum Security Alarm for violating the state’s no-call list laws. In the lawsuit, Koster states Maximum Security Alarm representatives are calling Missouri residents on the “do-not-call” registry to sell home security systems, according to a press release. In addition to stopping the calls, Koster is also seeking civil penalties for the violations, in addition to the costs of the investigation and prosecution. “The Attorney General’s Office will continue to pursue companies that violate our telemarketing and phone solicitation laws,” Koster says. “Missourians subscribe to our no-call list to avoid being harassed by telemarketers, and this office will aggressively enforce the law.”
Robocalls, aggressive door knocking, and other sales approaches that abuse and/or potentially deceive the consumer are nothing new – and unfortunately they will probably continue to plague the alarm industry (and other sectors of the economy) as long as there are companies willing to ignore the homeowner’s best interests to make the sale. But thanks to the same Internet that drives FrontPoint’s marketing efforts, it’s easier than ever the check out a company’s offer – and their reputation – before you buy.
Remember, these less-than-ethical alarm companies don’t want you to research them: the complaints are too numerous and too easy to find, and the low ratings from the BBB – to say nothing of more attractive offers from other alarm companies with better reputations and service records – like FrontPoint. When you’re ready to learn why we are the nationwide leader in wireless home security, just check us out online. We make home security and home automation safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. And best of all, you never have to worry about that robocall, or an unsolicited knock at your door.