As connected devices and “smart” technology continue to transform industries, more and more companies are developing Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that will be part of the projected $1.7 trillion market by 2019. The opportunity is huge, but these companies need a winning launch plan in order to stake their claim and gain attention for their IoT technologies. It starts with the fundamentals of any good marketing plan - good research to define the opportunity, core elements of communication and messaging, integration of channels and a plan for execution. In a crowded market, it will be critical for IoT innovators to strategically position themselves to cut through the hype, become a thought leader, and remain relevant in an ever-changing business landscape.
Any marketing plan, technology-related or not, starts with the following:
*A fully developed product. While its exciting to shout it from the rooftops, before diving in head first planning your launch, consider where your offering is in its maturity cycle. If the data isn’t fully vetted, maybe it needs more evaluation. Think about where your product fits into the market, what segment it satisfies, and if there are others in the market who can validate the offering.
*Defining a clear target market. Any solution should be created specifically to solve a customer problem or need, and fully understanding that opportunity requires a bit of legwork and research. When marketing B2B IoT solutions, start with some basic questions. How will your product or connected solution be used and by whom? What pain points your potential customer is experiencing that you can address? How does the solution compare or compete with others on the market?
*Diversified efforts to reach every relevant channel. When you know your target market, you know what type of marketing works best for them. To compete among the thralls of emerging IoT companies, you’ll need a cohesive view of the customer and a plan to touch every communications component that falls under the marketing umbrella. Take an integrated approach to combine PR, media, content marketing, social marketing, digital marketing and more.
*Solid research validating the product or service. In other words, you need hard data that shows that your product or service is addressing a market need. At a minimum, look at competitors and see what they’ve done. Do they have something similar in the market? Are you behind or ahead of the market? Be careful abouting claiming “firsts” or true uniqueness in the market. While it’s tempting to take this view, make sure you have the validation to back you up. Chances are there is something else out there you should be considering as competitive on some level.
Launching an IoT Solution
IoT is still a maturing and evolving market. Everyone is very excited, so there is a lot of hype surrounding new, connected technologies. However, product hype is not true thought leadership. This presents a fantastic opportunity for those launching a new IoT solution to position themselves as experts in the field. How do you do this? First, clearly define your expertise and place in the conversation. Make it known exactly where you fit into the tech market and then take a position. Put your stake in the ground on an issue and communicate your strategic goals and your well-informed opinion to key media and analyst influencers in the space.
Even better, be prepared to jump on breaking news and say something new and interesting about IoT. Formulate a content strategy that develops a narrative and a different way to tell the IoT story. Every narrative doesn’t have to speak directly to what you’re selling, but it should apply to your business and your solution in some way. Set yourself apart from your competitors and other people in the market - don’t be afraid to be bold. Validate your target market’s concerns and challenges while offering a unique perspective or thought-provoking alternative. Be careful and thoughtful, and know your position before you even start to craft that blog post or tweet.
Timing Your Launch
If your product or service is ready to go, you might consider timing your launch around an industry event or advancement. On the flip side, it’s important to time your launch so that you don’t get lost in big new announcements made by other major players. Pay attention to legislation and regulation in your target industry to make sure you’re launching at a time when your solution could be viable immediately. Internal timing is important, too. Figure out how strategic initiatives like funding and product launches can inform the best time to launch.
Supporting Your IoT Plan
To keep the conversation going, connect with the right influencers -- media personalities, analysts, or thought leaders. Meet them where they are, tapping into the issues and developments they’re already expressing interest in, and build a conversation that will make businesses and people stand up and notice you. Remember that there is a fine balance between wanting to say something provocative and answering a question about a topic the market is hungry for. The best launch plans and marketing strategies involve sparking robust conversations. To achieve that and earn respect as a thought leader, look outside your marketing spiel and build relationships with a community of smart, savvy professionals that are equally passionate about the future of connectivity and IoT.
Tracking Your IoT Plan
Establishing goals up front is extremely important, as they inform the expected results of your launch plan and continued marketing campaign. Research will lay the foundation of the launch, and access to tools and people who can help you tell your story will bring it to life. Come to an agreement, or at least an understanding of what success means, and put specific metrics in place to measure the success of your campaign in terms of your goals and how you’re fitting into the market at that time. Be sure to look back and evaluate why or why you were not successful and plan to react quickly and adjust your plan as needed to ensure success.
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