Persuading upper management to take risks is a difficult task, no matter the state of the economy. Convincing your CEO to invest in and implement a marketing strategy around your Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities can be difficult, especially with the crowded market, uncertainty of IoT’s place in the future, and security concerns. Even smart CEOs might be reluctant to take the plunge. Here are some tips on getting buy-in from your CEO to put your marketing strategy in place.
The first thing to do is educate yourself on the CEO’s problems and what initiatives he or she is currently pursuing. You have to understand the company, current market, and be able to cut through the clutter to find the right way to position your IoT marketing strategy.
If your CEO doesn’t know the size of the market and how the company might benefit from building a marketing strategy, it is important to think about how to educate him/her enough to make a well-informed decision. It might be good to start by preparing (not presenting yet) a visual presentation outlining the meanings of IoT buzzwords like “embedded sensors,” “connectivity,” “exchanging data,” and uniquely identifiable words/phrases that explain how IoT is shifting the business landscape. Using eBooks, case studies, videos, or anything that can point to the financials to develop and back up your presentation will be helpful.
Make Some Allies
It’s never a bad idea to get buy-in from other trusted advisors in the company for a number of reasons. One, it’s good to know who has the CEO’s ear. If the Board of Directors is heavily involved in the company’s decision-making, be ready to back your ideas up to them in a way they will understand. If the COO or CTO is the real influencer, make sure your presentation meets their approval before sending it up the flagpole. It also doesn’t hurt to survey your fellow employees to find out what they think of the plan you’ll be presenting. Collaboration can result in some amazing ideas and, in force, you might have a better chance of being heard.
Present a Polished, Well-Researched Plan
When you pitch the CEO, you obviously need to have your ducks in a row. That means having a lot of prep work done by the time you get to the meeting, so that if the CEO has tough questions, you can answer them right away. Your plan should highlight three main points:
- What is a pain point of the company and how can this marketing strategy fix it?
- What is the value of the marketing strategy? Prove it.
- How will the marketing strategy be implemented?
Ultimately, the first thing the CEO will want to know is if this strategy will help the balance sheet. It will also help to show if a top competitor is getting more market share from their IoT marketing strategy. Or, if your company is already providing an IoT solution and it isn’t being marketed, show the CEO that money is being left on the table by not putting resources behind marketing. Find relevant case studies about the IoT solution and point out exactly why it is important to build this capability. Give hard data about increased margins, business won, awards won, and any other data you can find. While you’re at it, show the risks associated with not doing what you’re pitching. Will you lose market share if you don’t do this? What’s the potential ROI?
But What If I’m Not Sure My Strategy Will Make Money?
There might be a situation where you have a great idea, but you’re not sure if it will produce ROI. What should you do then? Some say you should table it until you get a better idea when it will be successful. Others, like analyst Nick Jones in a Gartner research document from November 2014 titled, “How to Convince Your CEO to Invest in the IoT When You Don’t Know How You’ll Make Money From It,” says you should go for it anyway. Jones suggests many of the things above – like educating, doing some internal marketing, and surveying employees or customers – but he also urges change agents to present IoT as a thing to invest in now. He suggests positioning IoT solutions as risk reduction and says that it’s dangerous not to understand them and their potential.
If you want to know more about how an IoT marketing strategy should look, contact us today.
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