Universal Security boosts sales with 'alarmingly good' campaign

Universal Security Instruments hired 3rd Coast PR as AOR to introduce its IoPhic line of smoke and fire alarms.

Client: Universal Security Instruments (Owings Mills, MD)
: 3rd Coast PR (Chicago)
: IoPhic Smoke and Fire Alarm launch
: March-December 2012
: $300,000 - $400,000

Universal Security Instruments (USI) hired 3rd Coast PR as AOR to introduce its IoPhic line of smoke and fire alarms, the first new technology in the category in more than 30 years. 

“We've been in business 40 years, but we had limited retail distribution because we mainly did business with contractors,” says director of marketing Karen Yaggie. “IoPhic uses a microprocessor to detect all types of fires and allows us to virtually eliminate nuisance alarms [triggered by] everyday activities. It's somewhat of a complicated message and requires education. The objective was to educate people about IoPhic, build the brand, and gain retail distribution.” 

Messaging, which emphasized the importance of properly functioning alarms in saving lives and the advantages of the new technology, was driven through a campaign microsite (smokeandgasalarms.com), Facebook, YouTube, and media relations. An experienced firefighter served as a third-party expert.

“We focused outreach heavily on October because that's the key selling season and also national Fire Safety Awareness Month,” says Betsi Schumacher, the agency's director of client services.

Outreach to long-lead publications began in May. Targets included outlets covering home improvement, home and garden, consumer products, parenting, cooking, and women's general interest.   

Fire services and housewares trades were also pitched, as were home improvement, parenting, and cooking bloggers. 

An infographic on nuisance alarms was used in pitches and posted to USI's Facebook page, which launched September 11, and to the microsite, which launched October 1.

Veteran firefighter Greg Boggs, who is also president of the Chicago Chapter of the International Association of Black Firefighters, is featured in an educational video on the microsite and USI's Facebook and YouTube pages. Boggs is also featured on the microsite's “Expert Guidance” page, and he conducted media interviews.

The agency and USI collaborated on Facebook content, which emphasizes product information and consumer safety news. The agency handles daily Facebook engagement. 

October 2012 was the highest sales month for USI's online store.

“Sales were up 21% over October 2011 for all products, and the increase was primarily driven by IoPhic,” Yaggie adds. “We also picked up new retailers and increased penetration with existing retail customers.”

The microsite has garnered more than 6,000 page views. Facebook likes hit 350 within 10 weeks, 100 above the year-end goal. 

More than 1,700 traditional media and blog placements (about 260 million impressions) ran in outlets such as Food Network Magazine, WMAQ NBC in Chicago, a “Dr. Gadget” Extra segment, and The Daily Buzz.

Outreach and engagement efforts will expand on all fronts this year.

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