Valentine Hrytsenko, Ajax Systems CMO
The security industry has ignored users’ interests for a long time and focused only on professional installers and security companies. They were believed to be the ones who should think about customer satisfaction, and in general, only bad products need marketing. The Ajax Systems marketing team broke these myths. In seven years, it helped the company grow from a local garage startup to one of the global market leaders and the largest manufacturer of security systems in Europe. How do we do it?
Marketing is deep
Marketing has always had a weak position in the security industry. For most manufacturers, marketing is about making instructions, packaging, placing a layout in a magazine or setting up a stand at an event. All the activities have always been focused only on professionals. No one was interested in the end-user experience, no one was digging deep.
We determined that the end user wants a simple and clear experience, like that with iPhone or Tesla. We managed to show that the security system at home is as common as an electric kettle or a washing machine. And its operation can and should be easy, clear and pleasant.
In contrast to the outdated views of the market, we make the end-user experience our priority. At the same time, we think about the installers’ experience because Ajax is no longer just convenient hardware for them. First of all, it’s a tool for expanding their business. We prove that a professional product can be both professional and convenient for end users.
We have completely reimagined the security system brand and begun to talk about alarms passionately. Thus, we have developed a unique approach for the security market. In this approach, a product description is not a boring list of technical characteristics. Instead, it’s aesthetic design materials, video instructions, and informative product pages on the website. And we have proven that security system ads can be interesting without intimidating the customer.
Instead of a typical ad with an intimidation strategy, the Ajax Systems team created an artistic lifestyle video with the slogan “When security is art”
Ajax brand stood out for its reliability, design, and communication style. We have been brave and bold. And it worked. When people start using Ajax, they instantly fall in love with the product. This is confirmed by the high level of our NPS, 87.5%.
It was made possible by the large “in-house agency” of Ajax Systems, which includes more than 60 specialists. We can develop our internal team, deeply understand the business, and elaborate the most effective solutions for the global growth of the brand.
We’ve understood that to become #1 brand in the world, it is not enough to focus on the professional audience. But to please the end customer at first we had to determine how people generally come to a conclusion that they need an alarm. How they choose, compare, and study it. Thus, Ajax Systems became the first professional brand to start working both with professionals and end users.
We began working with search results, product reviews, media presence and feedback, started to boost influencer marketing, etc. After all, according to statistics, more than half of online users read at least four reviews before buying a product (Bizrate Insights, 2021).
At the same time, we invested in site development, improved and polished each section, its location and content. Made it more human. Instead of creating a page with product specification, we told the real story of the device.
The Ajax Systems website is a comprehensive promotion channel. For our focus markets, we built a digital sales funnel where interested buyers come directly to Ajax partners to buy products. We thoughtfully prepared every step so that the user can easily navigate from the moment of entering the website and studying the product to authorization and the form of requesting the system that is sent to the Ajax partner. In particular, we created a separate “Where to buy” section with a list of official Ajax installers and distributors around the world.
At the same time, we continue to provide help to professionals. For example, we have developed calculators for device battery life and online configurator, with which the end customer or installer can estimate the required number of detectors for a particular object (now it is used by more than 10,000 people every month).
Value in expertise
Ajax brand is unique: we have a significant market share of more than 10% in many countries. Ajax doesn’t have a single global competitor, and each region is exceptional in terms of competitors and user demands.That is why many Ajax solutions and products are developed to meet the needs of a specific market. For example, in Italy, we focus on outdoor safety, for British users, it is important to minimize false alarms, for Scandinavian countries, fire safety is a priority, and in South Africa, it is the stability of communication between security systems and alarm monitoring stations. We solve local problems that are actually useful for other markets as well.
This experience allows us to build a global platform of security expertise and develop the industry. We fill the Ajax Systems website with content that is useful for the entire industry, share successful case studies from one market and show their potential for others. Recently, our team launched the “Customer stories” section, which describes examples of protecting iconic projects, including the Museum of History and Arts in Ukraine, the polar research station in Antarctica and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Norway. We train partners, share expertise and success stories with the market. And all this is in the public domain, contrary to competitors’ sites.
With such an approach, we get a high level of traffic to the website, an average 300,000 visitors per month, which is more than some competitors have for the whole year. Every month, partners in focus markets get more than 400 orders (leads) from the Ajax website.
From the very beginning, Ajax Systems was a digital-DNA company, but later we expanded communication to other channels and started launching full-fledged campaigns. We involve partners in all types of communication, providing them with additional tools to scale their business. Each co-promo is a comprehensive solution from the Ajax Systems marketing team with ready-made design, content, and professional consulting.
Thus, Ajax Systems has a separate department that works to attract new partners and develop the existing ones. To do this, we organize offline events, trainings, seminars, road shows, webinars, participate in exhibitions, and certify our partners. Recently, we also opened a professional academy where we accumulate useful information for those who work with Ajax systems. And soon we are going to launch a full-fledged partnership program to organize joint projects/promotions to increase the average order value.
A separate powerful communication tool of Ajax is creative brand campaigns to attract end users and partners. For example, professional boxer Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed world heavyweight champion, became our ambassador in the Ukrainian market. As a result of cooperation, brand requests have increased by 22% in a month. Also, via our campaign in Italy with Andriy Shevchenko, the iconic footballer of the 2000s, we reached more than 10 million target audience and achieved record sales in the region. The campaign helped Ajax demonstrate almost double growth in Italy compared to the previous year, despite the difficult market situation due to COVID in 2020.
Our own channels as the basis of communication
For each product release or new project, we prepare our own content, which we further distribute via all possible communication channels. The strategy is always built so that a potential user or partner interacts with the message multiple times: via blog, social media pages, email marketing, digital advertising, online and print media, outdoor advertising, etc. Our own communication channels give us an opportunity not just to show the product, but also describe its benefits in more details and convey the necessary messages.
We launched our first 360°campaign “Your protection in an imperfect world” on the home market, in Ukraine. Its goal was to make Ajax synonymous with the security category and form a clear connection between Ajax and the notion of security system for the target audience. The promo was based on an image-building TV ad, which was further reproduced in product videos, materials for digital channels, outdoor advertising and radio, as well as in active support on social media through influencers. Due to multiple channels and unconventional creativity for the industry, the campaign eventually brought 72 million views, and dozens of security companies and Ajax dealers joined the partner promo. The project became a driver of the entire safety category. In 2021, the Ajax brand became one of the leaders in recognition growth among all Ukrainian companies included in the research. In general, in Ukraine, people started to associate the category with Ajax. Thus, ironically, statistics show that in Ukraine AJAX is the most searched football club. But we all know that they are not looking for football.
Special Event is the main online Ajax event
In early 2020, we realized that due to the pandemic, we can tell about new products only online. We were once again inspired by global tech giants such as Apple and Google and decided to bring something completely new to the security industry. This turns out to be a large-scale online product show for a professional audience.
It was then that we realized for the first time that online we can tell strong stories of new products to tens of thousands of professionals and brand fans simultaneously. We managed to make it as detailed, global, graphics- and content-rich as possible. Firsthand, the team members themselves told about the prerequisites and challenges that were set for the products, as well as how they can be applied by installers. This format ignites interest in the market, encourages active discussions, generates presence in social networks and mass media. It involves much more than just a press release or promotional video.
The first Special Event was watched by over 50,000 security professionals worldwide. Partners from different countries were delighted and sent us admiring reviews. For instance, a large French distributor of security equipment wrote: “I have been on the market for 20 years, but this is the first time I have seen something like that. You rock!” As a result, we have moved from presentations of individual products to several powerful multi-releases per year. Since then, the Special Event shooting has been one of the largest projects of the Ajax marketing team.
The next two Special Events together gathered almost a million views. Each time we raised the level of presentation and creativity higher and higher, because it is important for us to surprise our audience. The Ajax Systems team has not stopped making online presentations. We started to engage partners to organize local events, each of them gathering up to 400 professionals to watch the Special Event and communicate with Ajax Systems specialists. More than 1,500 security industry professionals have attended our product events in Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Scandinavian countries, Ukraine, and other regions.
Each Special Event becomes a separate communication platform. It is a huge database of quality content with full information about all presented products. This platform is further distributed in all our communication channels: Blog articles, newsletters for partners, product videos, visual and text content for social networks, digital, media, etc. Thus, every Special Event becomes a complete 360° campaign of new products.
Some of our colleagues in the market were also fascinated by the idea of online format and tried to make their own video presentations. So far, they mostly copy ready-made solutions, but we already see that it drives the market.
This year’s Ajax Special Event: Comfort zone took place on 11 October. Despite everything, the show was filmed in Ukraine, with the participation of our HQ team and representatives of local offices. The scale of the event will increase both in terms of geography and the variety of products presented. The online presentation was streamed in 19 languages around the world. During the first week Special Event: Comfort zone got more than 30,000 views from security professionals and brand fans. Thousands of Ajax partners attended our offline events in 27 countries, which is an absolute record in terms of scale and value for the industry.
Ajax Systems has gone beyond security and presented completely new devices and software solutions for the daily comfort of users and business success of partners. Among the products presented are devices for comfort and productivity, a lineup of fire detectors and software updates.
All Ajax marketing activities are aimed at combating user indifference when choosing security systems. We are creating the demand for convenient digital experience in the daily use of the system. This is our blue ocean, and we are confident that together with our partners, we will be able to change the market and put security systems on the same shelf with smartphones and other gadgets.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that the international success of the company and the rapid growth in demand for Ajax security systems are the result of the joint work of all departments. We make a very high-quality product that competes technologically with the mastodons of the security business. We build reliable relations with partners, which allows us to scale globally: today, Ajax is sold in 130 countries. The marketing team puts maximum time and effort to ensure that the user pays attention to us and says “I want Ajax”. With all this, pre-orders for our new devices are sold out six months in advance every time. I am sure it cannot be achieved with just a good product.