1. #1
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    Default Help me avoid wasting your time

    Hi all. First a disclaimer: I work for Probotics America, a company that makes robots for fire prevention education. Not Pluggie - we're the other guys.

    That said, I'd like to ask for your good ideas. We're a small company that has, in the past, only sold our product through tradeshows. We would like to reach out to find departments that can't go to the shows but our staff is small and we sell directly, not through distributors.

    So here's the question: How can I get to potential fire prevention education customers without 1) Spam, 2) Annoying telemarketing calls, 3) Wasting the time of everyone NOT involved in Fire Prevention Education, 4) Spending a bajillion dollars that would then drive up the price of our products. Any ideas? I've found its tougher than it looks.

    Here's some questions that have come up during discussions: Do Manufacturers Reps regularly call on your department? How do you select your equipment or find out about new stuff? What does everyone most need and not have for Fire Prevention Education? Does anyone really read those postcards in a package that all the magazine marketing guys are pushing?

    Thanks for your help and in return I promise not to call you at dinner and babble about how wonderful our robots are.

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    If you're in the NY area, I can give you the contact to a Fire Safety Education group. Drop me a line.

    Basically, if you're not doing the big trade shows, you should look for Pub-Ed events, which are few and far between. There's a decent one at the NY State Fire Academy in May:

    http://www.nysfirechiefs.com/PUBLICEDUCATION.php

    There's one in Mass. in August/September, too.

    It's a tough market to get into, have you tried paid advertising on, say, this website?

    Another option is to find out who writes the grants for the dept. as there are Fire Prevention grants available.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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    Here is the link for the annual Public Fire and Life Safety seminar held by the Department of Fire Services in Massachusetts in September...

    http://www.mass.gov/dfs/osfm/pubed/index.shtm
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Probotics
    Hi all. First a disclaimer: I work for Probotics America, a company that makes robots for fire prevention education. Not Pluggie - we're the other guys.

    That said, I'd like to ask for your good ideas. We're a small company that has, in the past, only sold our product through tradeshows. We would like to reach out to find departments that can't go to the shows but our staff is small and we sell directly, not through distributors.

    So here's the question: How can I get to potential fire prevention education customers without 1) Spam, 2) Annoying telemarketing calls, 3) Wasting the time of everyone NOT involved in Fire Prevention Education, 4) Spending a bajillion dollars that would then drive up the price of our products. Any ideas? I've found its tougher than it looks.

    Here's some questions that have come up during discussions: Do Manufacturers Reps regularly call on your department? (Yes particularily 30minutes after you win a Fire Grant, if they have are selling what we are looking to purchase (with our limited funds) we will give them the time of day (if they know their head from their butt, provide good service etc etc etc)). How do you select your equipment (shop/comparitive bidding) or find out about new stuff (Local/regional trade displays at fire schools, trade magazines, referals such as firehouse forum discussions) ? What does everyone most need and not have for Fire Prevention Education? (A budget/funds. Put together a product AND a workable package that self funds it, New ideas without funding are a dime a gross) Does anyone really read those postcards in a package that all the magazine marketing guys are pushing (waste of time, might open one out of five, and then, at most, give a couple minutes total.) ?

    Thanks for your help and in return I promise not to call you at dinner and babble about how wonderful our robots are.
    Marketing ANYTHING new is time consuming and expensive (Cash and/or time). Guerilla marketing, perhaps surprisingly to some, is actually more effective and more cost effective.

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    Most (if not all) counties in Alabama have county-level fire associations which meet on a regular basis. Ours meets monthly and each department is usually represented by a chief or other senior officer. If you've got regional reps, these association meetings are a good way to get your name out and maybe demo your product without a lot of cost to you.

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    Default Very good ideas - and helpful info

    Thanks guys - this is exactly the kind of info that can help me out. I'm going to check out the NY State Fire Academy and Public Life and Safety Seminar. Is there a good way to find the county level fire associations? A quick search got me buried under departments, but little sign of the associations.

    Sounds like I should skip the postcards - I thought that was the case, but its handy to have verification. As for web advertising, we tried advertising with Google last year and spent a bunch without a single department mentioning that's how they found us. It kind of makes me wonder if there are scam artists out there that monkey with their affiliate programs. I just checked pricing on the banners up there at the top of the page and they're $1500 a month. Anyone actually click on them to buy stuff? It would be cool to post if you do.

    Dianec - Thanks I'd love to talk to someone in the group, even if its just to trade tips and get good free stuff to share on the website. I'll drop you an email

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    I've definatly bought personal gear from the advertisers on this website... boots, flahshlights, etc... but I don't know that we've made any department purchases through those links.

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    A lot of these fire prevention groups are on shoe-string budgets -- like the one I'm associated with. We don't have a website...You're just going to have do a lot of leg-work or asking around. Start off at the state websites (Fire Marshals or Office of Fire Prevention if there is one) and work your way down.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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