Internet Marketing for Integrators
Terrible best describes most integrator websites. Antiquated, wacky or generic are common descriptions that come to mind. Fortunately, it does not take much money to correct this. Indeed, snake oil salesman who typically charge a lot will generally make things worse. In this note, we break down the most important steps to develop strong Internet marketing optimized for security integrators and why focusing locally is so important.
No Dancing Robots
I cannot stress this enough - no dancing robots, no flash based sites, no automatically streaming audio. In general, no gimmicks. Think I am kidding? Check this website from a well known remote monitoring company:
For whatever reason, many security people think this makes them look cool. Unless you are selling robots, action figures to 8 year olds or flash websites to people in 2002, just avoid this.
Use Standard Layouts
Using standard layouts, like Wordpress and their commonly used themes, makes an integrator look like a modern business. Avoid doing it yourself or hiring a local web designer. Standardized websites are essentially free and, more importantly, incorporate years of web best practices. You can also simply modify the content and aesthetics on your own whenever you want.
Overwhelmingly integrators only serve customers within 100 miles of their office(s). Despite this, their websites typically make little mention of their local market, looking like a crappy attempt at a global security site. If you have a single office in Albany NY, proudly and prominently declare yourself as "Albany's Best Security Integrator" or "Upstate New York's Finest Integrator." The chances of an Albany integrator getting projects in Manhattan or Boston are very low. Equally importantly, by not making this clear, people from Albany may quickly leave your site, thinking that you are not a fit to them.
In a global marketplace with billions of people online and tens of thousands of competitors, integrators have one consistent advantage - their physical presence. Make the most of it by focusing their website on how they serve their local market and who they serve. End users can get general security information from hundreds of large companies but there are very few who can speak to serving their town, city or community.
Ignore Traffic Numbers
99.99999% of people on the Internet are irrelevant to an integrator's business. Having them come to your site is useless. Ultimately, getting 1 new customer each month from the website would be a serious boost to most integrators. Unfortunately, unlike real life marketing, the number's game is more complex. If you meet 1000 people at the local convention center, you will likely get a number of customers from it. However, you can get 10,000 visitors on the web and if they aren't qualified, it will have no value. Focus on making the website appealing to local buyers and you can do very well even from tiny traffic numbers.
Showcase Local Projects
Many integrators have boring client lists - typically a series of bullet points with client names. While it is certainly good to cite local clients, use the power of the modern web to share pictures and videos from those clients. If you are going to 'blog', ignore generic technology topics like H.264 or multimegapixel cameras (that most end users either do not care about or can get better information elsewhere). Show them how you used technology to solve problems at one of their neighbor's businesses. Prospects will view this as fairly unique (where else can they get local case studies from down the block?) and highly relevant to their own needs.
Live Streaming Video From a Local Attraction
While some integrators stream a camera from their parking lot, if you really want to wow people locally, set up an IP camera at a local attraction. It can be a beach, a monument, a lookout, or anything that people locally take pride in. Make sure to use the highest quality IP camera you have, keeping in mind that people will view this day and night (I'd recommend a WDR / low light 720p or 1080p camera like the Q1604). Overlay the company logo on the stream, embed it on the website, let other local businesses use it.
This lets integrators showcase their overall technology skills while promoting something that the community likes. It is a good conversation starter and can help local buyers remember the company.
Beware of SEO
Search Engine Optimization is more hype than substance, especially for the typical integrator. Good SEO consultants will charge thousands of dollars per month, a hard to justify number with questionable results. Black hat SEO services will offer thousands of links for tens of dollars. However, most turn out to be worthless and some can make things even worse for you with Google.
To the extent that you try SEO, focus local. Don't try to rank #1 for "security integrator" unless you are an ADT. You'll just waste a lot of money and get leads that do not convert. However, do try to rank or pay for ads for local related terms like "Albany security integrator" or "Albany video surveillance", etc. These are far less expensive (typically 1/10th the cost or less) and will result in far more targeted leads.
The Value of Email
Email can be extremely powerful as long as you do not emulate the Chinese manufacturer approach [link no longer available] of spamming people with 'buy now' offers. Just like the site, focus the emails on local information, such as a case study of a local project you just completed. Emails help get prospects thinking about you even if they are not ready to buy (or upgrade) now. It builds awareness and name recognition such that when they are ready a month (or a year) from now, they think about calling you. While they may rarely go to your website, a periodic email with relevant local information will keep you top of mind.
Website as Validation
Websites are equally important to validate an integrator during the buying process. A strong website can help a buyer get approval from their boss or management. While they may not interact with an integrator or visit an integrator's office, they are quite likely to look at the company's website. Indeed, an integrator should refer them back to the website (as well as get them on their email list). A website that is modern and provides local case studies will go a long way to building confidence within the buyer's organization.