Control & Automation

Smart-Home Dealer Drops Amazon Echo on Doorsteps, Gets Control4 Business

Smart-home specialist and CEDIA board member Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home closes Control4 and other home automation deals after leaving Amazon Alexa on select doorsteps.

Smart-Home Dealer Drops Amazon Echo on Doorsteps, Gets Control4 Business
Door-hangers and cold-calling are passe, says smart-home specialist Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home. Leaving Amazon Echo Dots on select doorsteps has won the company some decent Control4 and other home-automation jobs.

Julie Jacobson · April 21, 2017

Who knew that a $50 Amazon Echo Dot could lead to so much home automation business? Smart-home specialist Joe Whitaker of The Thoughtful Home (TTH) had a hunch. He left a few Dots on select doorsteps, along with information about potential uses … and it worked.

With an initial investment of $1,000 (20 Dots), Whitaker closed (and has completed) more than $30,000 worth of projects, from small Sonos installs to complete Control4 automation systems.

“We have three more qualified leads in the hopper,” says Whitaker, who is on CEDIA’s board of directors.

The Thoughtful Home went through several iterations of custom stickers before settling on this version. It's important to select the right sticker material and ink, says Joe Whitaker -- one that is durable, weather resistant and difficult to remove.

With early success achieved, Whitaker had stickers custom-made for the top of the Dot, featuring the TTH logo and contact information.

A piece called “Create your Thoughtful Home with Alexa” is included in the box, “detailing just how much Alexa could do with the addition of a Control4 system,” Whitaker explains. “We talk about what a home system could be, and how, with the user’s voice, everything can be controlled.”

In the last round of Dot drops, one landed next door to an existing TTH client. The Dot recipient was just moving into the place … which happened to have a Control4 system.

“This particular project brought around $20,000,” Whitaker says, “even though they already had a lot of amazing gear in place.”

Extreme Vetting

The Thoughtful Home doesn’t just leave Dots willy nilly around the neighborhood, Whitaker explains.

“Everything is severely targeted,” he says. “We are already in the areas of our target clients, so it’s easy to find neighbors that might benefit from our service.”

In particular, the company looks for houses with no outdoor cameras and no “legit” door stations, or else the visible gear is outdated.

In those situations, Whitaker says, “An Echo is much better than a Haines & Company card or door hanger.”

Even if Dot recipients don’t become customers, they nevertheless mention the strange gift to friends and colleagues, Whitaker explains: “It generates buzz – ‘Hey, this guy left me an Echo’”

Next Phase of the Great Dot Drop-Off

Whitaker is thinking about the next phase of the Amazon Alexa gambit. He is establishing a website for “works-with-Alexa” gear that his company sells or installs.

He plans also create an Alexa Skill so customers can “Ask Thoughtful Home what’s new.” Alexa might mention a sale on Yale locks or a new feature for Control4, Whitaker suggests.

“Our days of traditional marketing are gone,” he says. “It used to be you needed a good website. Now everyone does that. Then it was SEO and now everyone does that. You have to be bold, be different, take a gamble.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · News · Products · Business · Amazon · Control4 · Echo · Joe Whitaker · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by jwhitaker on April 22, 2017

Thanks all! A little effort to be different can go a long way. And… well… you guys know I’m “different”.

Posted by Pete Baker on April 21, 2017

Brilliant idea, great creative marketing. Bravo, Joe!!!

Posted by MitchK on April 21, 2017

Just the kind of creative thinking - and action - I would expect from you, Joe - well done!

Posted by JAFO on April 21, 2017

Way to go Joe!  Always thinking outside the box.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on April 21, 2017

Totally agree, DarkKnight!

Posted by TheDarkKnight on April 21, 2017

Simple, but brilliant. This is awesome!

Posted by TheDarkKnight on April 21, 2017

Simple, but brilliant. This is awesome!

Posted by Julie Jacobson on April 21, 2017

Totally agree, DarkKnight!

Posted by JAFO on April 21, 2017

Way to go Joe!  Always thinking outside the box.

Posted by MitchK on April 21, 2017

Just the kind of creative thinking - and action - I would expect from you, Joe - well done!

Posted by Pete Baker on April 21, 2017

Brilliant idea, great creative marketing. Bravo, Joe!!!

Posted by jwhitaker on April 22, 2017

Thanks all! A little effort to be different can go a long way. And… well… you guys know I’m “different”.