Marketing material for your agency
While this column normally focuses on off-duty topics that are unrelated to the agency, this month we’re going to take a look at one out-of-service activity that may benefit your agency: marketing. It is a sad situation that today’s agencies must actively market and promote themselves as a good working option. Sadly, this is the reality due to the mainstream media’s propensity to hyper-sensationalize (if not outright lie) about carefully selected events.
To combat this, agencies need to present themselves not only as honorable and trustworthy, but also as good places to work. “Brand management” has become a necessary goal. To this end, many agencies have turned to the same efforts as commercial organizations: the use of brand recognition tools or “swag”.
Challenge Coins are a well-known and recognized marketing / branding tool. There are several companies that produce quality custom parts at reasonable prices. But if you compare the cost of challenge coins to simple business cards or brochures, the cost can be sky-high. Another option is to challenge parts of another type: those made of polyurethane (rubberized) instead of metal. A company called Combat Swag LLC (combat-swag.com) manufactures such “parts”. They are less expensive than traditional challenge coins and are a unique branding tool that you can hand out to represent your agency.
Another option that should be explored is that of hook-and-loop patches. The patches can be fabric or polyurethane like the part mentioned above. If you’ve attended Police Week or any major trade show that serves the law enforcement industry, you’ve seen many variations of it. They come in all shapes and sizes and are relatively inexpensive to order in any quantity. Thin Blue Line flags with company names or logos in the lower right corner are common. Equally common are red or blue crosses on square patches to designate a first aid delivery location and can be personalized with a logo or agency name. Large companies like 5.11 manufacture and supply “tactical patches” or “morale patches” that can be customized to meet your needs.
On the high end of the marketing and branding tools, there are shirts, bags, hats and more. You should be careful not to put your organization’s identification on such items for fear that someone will use them to attempt to impersonate an agent for your agency. It pays to have the right talented person on your staff to design something that is unique and obviously represents your organization, but that cannot be used as a “police tag” of any kind. It can be as simple as adding “Support Your Local…” before your agency name or using a cartoon character / mascot instead of the usual government entity seal.
Ultimately, items used for branding and marketing can help you build better relationships with your community and may provide another option for positive interaction or even as a reward for public safety. Some organizations use them to recognize services provided by citizens as part of a crime prevention activity. The uses are limited by your imagination and the types and quantities of items you own.