Dr. Harry Carter
Dr. Harry Carter
Editors Column- Saturday, May, 4, 2013

Marketing Your Product

Many of us in the fire service do not have the faintest idea of what marketing is and how you should do it. I was fortunate to be able to attend a marketing seminar at the FDIC in Indianapolis recently. Although the program was targeted to members of the community which sells things to us in the fire service, I was asked to sit in for one of my organizations, the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association (CVVFA).

This marketing session was a really neat program and allowed me to learn a great deal. However, among all of the messages in the presentation, there was one major message which underscored the speaker’s message. The presenter stressed the fact that you must create, establish, and build your brand. This is easy for a manufacturer to understand. You and I all know about Ford, Chevy's, and BMW's. But what is the brand your fire department is attempting to put forward? However, for those of us in the world of non-profits, this fact is not quite so obvious.

Where do you start when it comes to the creation of your brand? Let me suggest that an organization's mission statement is the place where you need to lay out the overall pattern for what you as an entity intend to be and do. The same holds true for groups which deal with us here in the fire service. My work as the editor of the Respondersafety.com highway safety website has allowed me to help in the creation of our organizational brand.

The primary reason for our existence is to educate and inform members of the fire, police, EMS, and towing communities as to the ways in which to operate safety out on the highways and byways of our nation. We came about as a result of a tragedy which happened back in the late 1990's. We came together to train folks so that they would not suffer the loss which our members had.

We have many resources available to you on our website. We have videos, DVD's, model procedures, and a number of other resources for you. We can now provide a great deal of real-time education to our customer base through our Responder Safety Learning Network. You can register to become a member of our educational network by going to our website and going to the Learning Network tab on our homepage.

We have created a short mission statement which allows us to tell you very quickly and succinctly what we are all about. Our mission statement is, "…One the highway we have got your back." It took us quite a while to boil all of our efforts down to an easily understood message. More than that, we work to bring that slogan to life.

A number of us from the CVVFA attended this marketing seminar in Indianapolis for a specific reason. We are in the process of growing our market and building our brand as a highway safety resource. One of the primary lessons we learned was to have a common message.

Whether it is on our website, at our trade show booth, in my on-line writing efforts, or in our educational seminars, the message must be consistent. With a simple message such as ours, this would seem simple. Let me assure you that we need to work hard to stay on message.

When it comes to using the social media for our needs, I stand representative of my generation. More than that, I am a victim of my generation. I have yet to acquire my first smart phone; yet this is the area where the greatest growth in the media is the mobile device. We have a website yet are we ready for people to access it from their tablets or their cell phones. This needs to be addressed.

My friends, the work of the gang at Responder safety.com continues. Our most important task is to provide you with the educational resources to train your folks to operate safely on the highways in your response area. Please go to our website and register for our learning network. In that way, you can be assured of receiving the most up-to-date training materials for your department. We would urge you to act today.

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