The Worst Security Marketing Ever

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 09, 2012

hdcctvWe are all witnesses to the worst security marketing campaign ever run. Over the last 4 years, the underfunded and outmanned HDcctv Alliance has attacked, spammed, alienated and outraged security professionals around the globe. In this note, we break down their missteps and provide a series of four recommendations on how to run an effective marketing campaign.

Pick the Appropriate Adversary

Creating a ‘adversary' can be good for a marketing campaign as it rallies supporters around a common enemy. However, the adversary must be something that potential supporters can relate to without alienating them.

The HDcctv Alliance has failed miserably here. The 'adversary' they created are people who think all cameras should be IP. They rant on and on about IP camera dogmatists who will not consider any other alternatives.

Here's a recent example of their unproductive tactics, with their Executive Director on the attack:

"Dear All-cams-IP Flat Earther, what technical advance will resolve deficiencies yet to be overcome in 18 years of IP cam R&D?"

Such insults fail to garner support as it is an obvious strawman plus alienates many IP camera users who would be sympathetic to their cause.

A much better adversary for HDcctv proponents would be ‘IP Camera Complexity.' This is something that most people can relate to - from the fearful traditional dealer to the veteran integrator who deals with headaches regularly. Emphasizing that ‘IP cameras are a pain in the ass' is a much more tangible claim than harping about ‘IP camera dogmatists.' Get people thinking about all the issues with setting up IP cameras. Make this top of mind. Pull the industry together on a shared common problem. Don't push them away by attacking those that disagree with you.

Attack in Appropriate Situations

Attacking in the right situations is key to getting the message home and not simply wasting time creating enemies. If you are trying to replace IP cameras, you should focus first on people who use them the least or have the biggest problems with them. Alas, the HDcctv Alliance spends most of its efforts on Twitter and LinkedIn, two American based online forums that are dominated by IP camera users. They are preaching to the atheists.

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Indeed, the co-founder of the HDcctv Alliance admits this frustration:

"These forums are dominated by North American based people, companies and viewpoints."

This, of course, is true but begs the question of why they would waste their energy in such contexts?

The Alliance would do far better focusing on traditional dealer in the Americas and the Asian market, in general.

  • Instead of courting one of the most powerful Asian magazine and tradeshow organizers, ASMAG,  they essentially defame them, first accusing them of unfavorable coverage because of advertiser influence and then later being too incompetent to cover the security industry. Way to make friends and influence people.
  • The Alliance would do better camping out at ADI branches to directly reach the dealer who hates or is afraid of IP. Those guys are not hanging out on Twitter debating IP vs analog.

Balance with Positive Contributions

When building your case, just pointing out problems will eventually burn out even your supporters. Informing the community of your own successes and progress is critical for people to recognize that you can solve the problem that you are calling out. This can come in the form of new products and new features as well as educating how your products work and the value they provide.

Unfortunately, the HDcctv Alliance spends an overwhelming majority of their outreach efforts complaining and criticizing IP cameras and those that they perceive to be hostile to their cause. While this may get them some attention, it does little to educate or enlighten the market on what tangible HDcctv products to use. If the Alliance spend as much time cheerleading their members as they do attacking people online, they would be much farther ahead today.

Build Your Allies

Because of all this, the 'Alliance' ironically has nurtured few allies, choosing instead ongoing skirmishes with various people online (e.g., the ASMAG attack above, the Pelco attack, numerous others). One integrator summed up an exchange with the Alliance succinctly:

"You couldn't get any worse at promoting hdcctv if you tried."

Despite hundreds of tweets and comments each week, the HDcctv Alliance is down to one smart integrator who is willing to engage with them. Alas, even he is tiring of the Alliance's tactics, lamenting recently:

"It seems anytime someone provides facts to contradict your opinion of the world you respond with strawmen.... If you aren't using strawmen then you are exaggerting or speaking mistruths."

Unless you are going to spend a fortune (which the Alliance clearly lacks), you need to build a network of supporters that will advocate and refer your products and services. Alas, with so much time fighting and so little time building up their own offerings, the marketing campaign is a disaster which is unfortunate given the concept's potential.

Indeed, the Alliance is aware of the ill will they are creating and just do not care:

You mean CEOs ring you up and say, "We would grab a piece of $5b 2016 HDcctv market, but Todd is such a jerk!"

Obviously, they do not have a snow ball's chance in hell of coming close to this market share but what is important is that they actually believe they do. They are so blindly confident that they figure they can attack, malign and impugn away and we will all just need to submit to their irresestible force. Good luck with that.

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