“Chief Outsiders helped us launch an innovative product into a new market, something that we had no idea how to accomplish. Clay and Beth, supported by the Chief Outsiders team, did a great job!” Dennis Mason, President, Kings III of America, Inc.
Since 1989, Kings III of America, Inc. (Kings III) has provided emergency telephone monitoring and related products. The company sought expertise to launch an innovative lone worker safety solution into the US market. Chief Outsiders, Clay Spitz and Beth Somplatsky-Martori, developed a product launch strategy and detailed marketing plans that helped grow revenues from $0 to $1 million in 18 months. Leadership applied the skills learned from the engagement across the company, contributing to staff development and advancement.
Working Alone Made Safer
Kings III of America, Inc. (Kings III) has installed over 75,000 emergency phones throughout the United States and Canada. The one-stop-shop solution includes engineering and manufacturing of emergency phones, installation, maintenance and 24/7 emergency monitoring.
In 2013, Kings III acquired UK lone worker specialist, Connexion2 as a strategic move to expand its business with a worker safety solution. Building upon the success of its Emergency Dispatch Center, the solution, branded as SoloProtect , now makes working alone safer for thousands of field workers.
“Individuals working alone wear an electronic device that allows them to discreetly raise an alarm,” explained Dennis Mason, President, Kings III. “Operators listen to what's going on and then respond appropriately. Sensors in the device also detect falls and other safety incidents.”
Expertise to Launch in the US
Since the company’s founding, leadership has taken pride in operational excellence.
“We didn't have any significant challenges in our existing business,” stated Mason. “We're quite good operationally.”
Lacking new product launch experience, however, Mason sought outside assistance.
“I had a very small marketing team and we had never done this before. You spend a lot of money launching a new product so you want to do it right the first time.”
Recurring Revenue Experience
Mason talked to a couple of local consultants and then met a Chief Outsiders representative at a Vistage event in Dallas.
“Their resumes were very impressive,” he said, “with a breadth of experience that stood out.”
Several phone calls with Chief Outsiders Managing Partner, Clay Spitz followed.
“We discussed Clay’s experience with recurring revenue and the nuances that make it different from a traditional product or service,” Mason related. “I felt that his expertise would be a good fit for our business model.”
Following a kickoff meeting, Spitz led the initial effort and was later joined by Chief Outsiders CMO, Beth Somplatsky-Martori, who worked on-site a couple of times a month and remotely one-to-two days a week.
Initially, Mason participated in all of the meetings, collaborating closely with Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori.
“They always took our ideas and our process as important,” related Mason. “We definitely felt like we were part of the process.”
Spitz worked with leadership to set up the market research and drove the strategic planning. Somplatsky-Martori added an abundance of energy, ideas and product launch expertise.
“Beth was very good at brainstorming,” Mason explained. “She also had a good feel for the tactical aspects of marketing, and local contacts that helped us implement those ideas.”
Focus Groups and Survey
On-site strategy sessions identified potential market segments and Spitz set up focus groups to evaluate two types of users, those who faced predominantly social risks and those who faced predominantly environmental risks, to be followed by a quantitative web survey.
“To develop messaging, it was critical to get good numbers around the most likely target market and the most important selling points,” explained Spitz.
Off-site, Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori took what they learned from the qualitative and quantitative research, coupled with the market insight transferred from SoloProtect’s more than 10 years of business in Europe, to develop the strategy.
“Then, we would play that back and take their input to refine the position and messaging,” related Somplatsky-Martori.
More Incidents and No Awareness
The focus groups and quantitative survey generated essential data and insight that Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori summarized as follows:
- 93% of companies surveyed reported having one or more lone-worker safety incidents in the previous year.
- The primary competition for SoloProtect is the perception that training programs are enough to address lone worker safety issues.
- Initial reactions to the SoloProtect concept were overwhelmingly positive.
- SoloProtect should be selling the benefits of its services, not its product.
- Pricing was in the correct range, but some of the features needed to be bundled, as opposed to priced separately as options.
“There were a lot more safety and health related incidents than anybody knew,” revealed Spitz commenting on the research. “And, companies had no awareness of solutions beyond training that could reduce the safety related incidents.”
Where to Start
The team then identified the key market segments most likely to buy the SoloProtect service at an acceptable price, including:
- Food Service (home delivery)
- Real Estate/Builders
A competitive analysis revealed a few small competitors with little hold on the market.
“We considered lone worker safety to be a new category,” offered Spitz.
The insights gained led Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori to propose a strategy that would educate the market about the frequency of lone worker safety incidents, and the existence of a solution beyond training:
- Messaging should include both rational and emotional arguments focused on key areas of concern, such as liability, cost, avoidance and reduction in severity of incidents, and doing the right thing to protect workers.
- Messaging campaigns should build awareness of the problem and SoloProtect as the best solution, and communicate the value proposition.
- The ideal customer would be a mid-size company with a contact that could influence or make a decision after receiving the information.
The team crafted a compelling brand promise, personality and essence under the headline, ‘We Make Working Alone Safer.’ Somplatsky-Martori also presented a detailed marketing plan by tactic, by month and by cost. “The strategy was sound,” commented Mason.
Traditional Tactics and Content Marketing
The plan called for front-loaded spending with a blend of traditional tactics and content creation:
- Direct mail to identify hot leads and candidates for lead nurturing
- Content marketing and social media developed and managed both internally and with supplemental work initially from an agency
- Tradeshows to generate leads throughout the year
The SoloProtect team had identified The American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE) in the prior year as a good fit for the lone worker safety line of the business and had exhibited at the Safety 2014 conference with success. The Safety 2015 conference in Dallas was emphasized as an excellent opportunity build on prior efforts by:
- Hosting an evening event
- Placing pre and post-show advertising on the ASSE website
To support market education initiatives, the SoloProtect team worked at becoming experts.
“Katie Thomas, the Kings III and SoloProtect marketing director, submitted presentation proposals accompanied by a scholarly paper to the Safety 2015 Conference that were accepted,” explained Somplatsky-Martori. “And, since then they've been out on the expert speaking circuit frequently.”
Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori also worked to educate leadership on important marketing concepts, including more focus on video marketing, and then helped them engage a strategic marketing partner for content marketing.
$0 to $1 mm in Revenue
Mason expects $1 million in revenue from the SoloProtect division in 2016. “We launched and did a lot of the work in 2015. It's taken awhile to educate the market and get traction, but essentially we went from $0 to 1 million in 18 months,” he stated.
“We began with a smaller builder followed by two more. Then, we landed a big national customer with more than 1,000 locations. The nice thing about recurring revenue is that we’ve gone from nothing to $37,000 per month today. So, I'm starting every month from that point and more going forward.”
Just what we were looking for!
The marketing strategy and plan generated by the experienced and enthusiastic Chief Outsiders/SoloProtect team resulted in a successful U.S. launch. “The biggest impact of the engagement was just what we were looking for, a plan to go to market quickly with a honed-in purpose and focus to our efforts,” stated Thomas.
“This product is innovative with robust features specifically designed to enhance lone-worker safety,” offered Spitz. “The ability to connect the customer with their very professional call center agents—there's nothing else like it on the market!”
Over the course of the engagement, Mason, Thomas and the vice president of sales all learned to better understand the role of inbound marketing in lead generation.
“They were very quick to understand how to incorporate inbound marketing into their business,” explained Somplatsky-Martori. “And they were committed enough to the approach that they added the necessary resources.”
“Katie has been terrific, a very quick study,” related Spitz. “She has since become an executive in the company with staff reporting to her. Dennis is a great COO. He has a clear understanding of what it takes to get results.”
Company leadership now effectively employs the techniques they learned from launching SoloProtect on both sides of the business.
Throughout the engagement, Mason enjoyed working with Spitz and Somplatsky-Martori.
“They know what they're doing. If you need expertise, above your pay grade so to speak, Chief Outsiders is a great place to go. I consider our collaboration to be a good investment.”
“They were great to work with and brought to the engagement a vast amount of knowledge and experience across a variety of industries,” added Thomas.
“Dennis and Katie really got it,” concluded Somplatsky-Martori. “This is why they were able to take the ball and run with it when we stepped out of the picture.”