Marketing in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world can be challenging, and not all strategies and campaigns are successful. This is especially true in the realm of Internet of Things (IoT) marketing, designed to sell connected products and solutions to a number of industries. The mistakes marketers make are similar to those in other areas of business, but because IoT is a growing trend (predicted by IDC to reach $7.1 trillion in 2020) that is new to the market and surrounded by a lot of hype, it might be even easier to make mistakes. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons IoT marketing strategies fail and how to avoid them.
1. Assuming Your Audience Knows More Than You Do
People inherently have a fear of the unknown, and this is especially true when it comes to new technology. If a potential customer doesn’t understand what IoT is or why they need it for their organization, you’re going to have a hard time convincing them. You have to educate them first, showing real world examples about specific problems that have been solved in their industry, for example, IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative or Sunnyvale, CA’s enLightened IoT commercial lighting solution. Good examples can change the game. Better yet, show them how you can solve problems for your customer and drive business volume. Most important, market to your audience at their level of understanding, not yours.
2. Feeding the Hype Without Showing Value
This feeds off of the first point, to a degree, but it’s worth pointing out that there is (surprise!) a lot of hype around IoT. There are companies talking about IoT but they aren’t talking about how they fit into the community or ecosystem. The media is looking for such information that IoT players can provide. Analyst communities are aiming to draw meaningful conclusions from that data. Marketing IoT, even to someone who understands what it is, means more than throwing buzzwords around. It means understanding where IoT fits into your customer’s business.
3. Not Having a Well-Thought-Out Content Strategy
The newness of the market creates a barrier unto itself. People have been talking about IoT for such a long time. Marketers are over-eager and over-zealous in their expectations of what they’ll get out of an IoT campaign. There are companies who aren’t ready for PR because they haven’t figured out their message, yet they are spending money on outbound marketing events and content that doesn’t provide true value. Spending money on tradeshow booths and loads of blog posts without knowing the real message looks a lot like jumping on the IoT bandwagon without a clear path. Campaigns need to be fed with informative education materials and examples. Using the right channels to communicate to your ideal markets is a must. Knowing when it’s time to target and segment the market is key. That means knowing the market, competitors, the right content types and the overall marketing strategy that is necessary. Spending time to decide on a specific strategy and message will allow you to customize messaging for your target markets, leading to success in the long run.
4. Not Understanding Possible Limitations
IoT, in a lot of ways, is immeasurable because it is still growing. It’s difficult to predict the effectiveness of a marketing campaign when there are so many new innovations and uses in development. Some may question why you should even try marketing your IoT solution now. A lot of companies get discouraged when the first marketing plan goes awry, or doesn’t produce the conversions expected. Looking back at these campaigns and seeing the problems helps you learn from previous mistakes so you can be more strategic next time.
There is more and more data available as IoT sensors get smarter, and we can convert that into actionable marketing strategies because as IoT becomes more transparent, so does market research. It is important to understand the limits and concerns of the market in order to create your plan. Learn how to communicate to the IT side, as well as the business side, of your target market. You might need to speak a different language, but it’s worth it.
5. Not Having an End Goal Ahead of Time
Have you identified what your company is trying to achieve in launching an IoT marketing campaign? Are you hoping to educate the market, gain visibility, generate leads, convert leads into customers, or a combination of these? If you don’t know your desired end result, you’re adding to the hype and spending money you could be funneling into market research and campaigns that speak to the people who need your help. Having the right goals in place will help you not only execute the right plan, but will also help you measure your campaign for success. Everything is changing. There are new players in the market, and there are opportunities to differentiate yourself. Previous failure doesn’t have to be fatal, and past failures can enable you to learn and take away improved strategies from each bad experience. Your end goal will dictate how you strategize your new campaign.
As you continue marketing your IoT solutions, constantly evaluate your program. Make tweaks to it. If you aren’t seeing what you expected, either try adjusting your expectations or changing what you deliver. Keep up with the pace of the industry to make sure competitors aren’t eclipsing you. Understand that, in any business, with any marketing strategy, success doesn’t happen overnight. Develop a good process and you will be in it for the long haul.