The Big Idea with Ron Davis
May 25, 2011
Keep Pace With Market Evolution to Remain Relevant
Idea of the Month
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of the Electronic Security Association (ESA).
Guilbeau's great idea: Alarm dealers need to embrace the concept that security systems will evolve into a byproduct of lifestyle enhancements.
Merlin Guilbeau is somebody who everyone in the alarm industry ought to meet. This is a guy who almost single-handedly put ESA (formerly NBFAA) on the map and made it the preeminent association for independent installing security contractors.
As a former alarm dealer himself and now an association executive, I felt Guilbeau's great idea would certainly be stimulating to share with you. Step back and consider how much the industry has evolved during the past 10 years and you should see a pattern emerge. From a traditional alarm system to one that can be viewed over a computer, to whole-house monitoring, to energy management, and beyond.
For any of us who don't believe this is happening, take a look at the industry's leading companies and see what they are marketing to their prospective customers. It is not only amazing, but something that nobody would've been able to predict as recently as five years ago. It goes beyond integration, beyond convergence, and brings us to a decidedly different business than the one we probably entered.
What does this mean to us today? Simply, we have to ramp up our knowledge base to include products and services that are not part of the mainstream alarm business. For years, I have been talking about bundling different services and offering them under the umbrella of an existing security company. However, the actual bundling that took place occurred within a singular product. Just take a look at the panels that also perform home automation services such as energy management, lighting, window treatments, etc. Sometimes people will buy things they don't particularly want if it is bundled with something they do desire. I think security falls into the former category.
When the top companies as well as some of the most respected thinkers in our industry are doing the same things, it may be time to look at alternative approaches to marketing.
Let's also spend a moment to think about what's going on with the telephone companies and cable companies that are entering the security business. For them, it's just another product or service they can bundle with other services. As they become more and more proficient in marketing these products and services, they are going to be increasingly difficult to contend with.
Just look at what the cellular providers are doing with various product offerings by telephone manufacturers. In some cases they are being sold at below cost, thus making it difficult for the manufacturers to start building a market for their products rather than just the suppliers to the telephone companies. It's a changing world out there, and the alarm dealer who was going to succeed in the future probably will be called something else ... perhaps, lifestyle enhancement engineer!
In the meantime, Guilbeau was pretty explicit in his endorsement and support of the upcoming ESX show. Knowing who is going to be exhibiting there, he couldn't help but share his enthusiasm for some of the products and services that will be offered at the show. Maybe that would be a good place to start in your search for the next "must have" product. Sure seems that it would happen sooner rather than later.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.