Paul Holmes 28 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
ITT Industries Night Vision, the leading manufacturer of night vision equipment to the U.S. Military since 1959, began marketing its product to law enforcement officials in 1994. Night vision units create day-like lighting conditions at night or in the dark by amplifying small amounts of available light. Since 1997, ITT has been aggressively establishing successful partnerships and programs with law enforcement associations, leadership and agencies to establish the company as the leader in night vision equipment. However, ITT was not fully leveraging its involvement in the law enforcement community through marketing and communications efforts. Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT) recommended that ITT create a brand awareness campaign focusing on its many initiatives in the law enforcement market.
ITT produces the most technologically advanced night vision units and is recognized by Frost and Sullivan as one of the dominant forces in the market. However, research showed that law enforcement officials did not identify any company as a leader in the night vision category.
A 1998 telephone survey of 301 police chiefs showed that two in three police chiefs were unaware of any night vision brand, including the ITT Industries Night Vision brand, and did not know what brand their agencies used. They could not name an industry leader and were not familiar with any advertising or public relations activities of any night vision company. The survey indicated that police chiefs made final decisions on all purchases. More than half of the police chiefs interviewed said that a company’s reputation drives spending decisions. Additional focus group findings indicated that officers are loyal to companies that support their causes.
A few years ago, ITT’s law sales saw a marked increase. However, law enforcement sales cycles vary by department, and the purchase of night vision equipment, which is considered expensive, is not an annual event. From the onset, night vision equipment has been considered a “nice-to-have” item rather than a “need-to-have” tool. Because of this, ITT was expecting a major sales downturn for 2000. Even so, ITT understood that the sales cycles shifted rapidly in the market, so it was important to continue a leadership role.
In 2000, ITT Industries Night Vision had the opportunity to take a highly visible leadership position in the law enforcement market through new initiatives and better marketing of current initiatives.
To position ITT as the leading provider of night vision products and services in the law enforcement market.
To reverse a sales downturn in the law market by 2002.
CRT proposed that ITT create a total brand awareness campaign focusing on its many law enforcement leadership initiatives, including: a Community Policing Award with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); sponsorship of the IACP’s annual meeting opening ceremonies and ribbon-cutting; support of the Fallen Officers Memorial; a mobile training initiative designed for officer safety; a Grant Information Service and support of tactical contests.
CRT and ITT implemented the brand awareness campaign:
- By securing a highly visible sponsorship at the 2000 IACP Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif. (the leadership association directing law enforcement officials). ITT sponsored the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting event, which included a navy fly over and a SWAT demonstration. ITT’s banners and balloons were strategically placed around the event site so no view lacked an ITT signature. Additionally, the leadership of the IACP thanked ITT for its continued support, mentioning several of ITT’s initiatives, and called ITT’s partnership with the organization a model.
- By creating a comprehensive company brochure that highlighted ITT’s products, services and support of the law enforcement community. CRT distributed the brochure in the 11,000 welcome kits at the conference.
- By continuing its co-sponsorship of the ITT/IACP Community Policing Award. This award acknowledges departments making a difference in their communities through the community-policing model.
- By coordinating a Community Policing Workshop with the IACP and developing education materials.
- By supporting the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and its Police Week 2000. As part of this support, ITT offered officer safety demonstrations.
- By partnering with police departments to highlight the special night operations considerations.
- By sponsoring the 2000 Police K-9 Iron Challenge.
- By developing a mobile training program to offer night operations training to departments and police academies.
- By creating a Grant Services program to help departments secure grants to buy night vision equipment.
- By publicizing all of the above activities.
As a result of these efforts, ITT received significant coverage of its activities in law enforcement publications, including Police Chief Magazine, Law Enforcement Technology and Police. Additionally, both the IACP and the National Law Officers Memorial have publicly stated that ITT’s partnership with police is a model. While sales in 2000 were down as expected, they were down less than anticipated. ITT conducts brand awareness surveys each year, and the unaided awareness of the ITT Industries Night Vision brand continues to increase every year. Product inquiries have sharply increased, which ITT plans to calculate by the end of 1st quarter 2001.