Marketing materials for your agency

While this column normally focuses on off-duty topics that aren’t agency-related, this month we’re going to take a look at an off-duty activity that can benefit your agency: marketing. It’s a sad situation that agencies today must actively market and promote themselves as a good work option. Unfortunately, this is the reality due to the mainstream media’s propensity to sensationalize (even outright lie) about carefully selected events.

To combat this, agencies need to present themselves not only as reputable and trustworthy, but also as good places to work. “Brand management” has become a necessary goal. To this end, many agencies have turned to some of 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 pieces at reasonable prices. But if you compare the cost of challenge coins to simple business cards or brochures, the cost can be exorbitant. Another option is to challenge pieces of a different type: those made of polyurethane (rubber) instead of metal. A company called Combat Swag LLC (combat-swag.com) manufactures such “parts”. They are less expensive than traditional challenge coins and represent a unique branding tool that you can distribute to represent your agency.

Another option that should be explored is hook-and-loop patches. Patches can be fabric or rubber like the part mentioned above. If you’ve attended Police Week or any major trade show serving 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. Red or blue crosses on square patches to denote a first aid supply location are equally common and can be personalized with an agency logo or name. Big companies like 5.11 make and supply “tactical patches” or “morale patches” that can be customized to your needs.

On the high-end side of marketing and branding tools, there are shirts, bags, hats and more. You must be careful when putting your organization’s identification on such items, lest someone use them in an attempt to impersonate an agent of your agency. It’s worth having the right talented person on your staff to design something that is unique and obviously represents your organization, but in no way can be used as ‘police identification’. This 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 can provide another option for positive interaction or even as a reward for the public safety department. Some organizations use them to recognize the service provided by citizens as part of a crime prevention activity. Uses are limited by your imagination and the types and quantities of items you have.

William L. Hart