The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding and poised continue that incredible growth over the next few years, with everything you can imagine becoming connected to each other and to the Internet. The industry spans just about everything we touch, from smart home components such as connected refrigerators and home lighting systems, to connected cars that can monitor driving patterns and provide infotainment, to industrial applications, such as monitoring and reporting on progress and issues at remote oil, gas and mining locations.
With an industry this broad, and the noise about the industry so loud, how can marketers make their company stand out? (Calysto has created a great new resource on marketing to the IoT called The IoT Marketer – check it out!) To understand how to be successful in this market, it’s important to understand why it’s different than every other “hyped” technology cycle in recent memory.
For starters, there’s scale. The breadth of the M2M / IoT market is something we haven’t seen since the ramp up of mobile devices in the early 2000s, and that’s not even a fair comparison. Just as every person now has one or more mobile devices, each person and business will now have access to an increasing number of connected items at home and at work.
The analyst projections are staggering in terms of the number of connected devices we’ll see over the next few years, and M2M and the IoT will touch our lives by connecting our consumer and business devices as we never thought possible. As these devices become increasingly useful and less indulgent (do I REALLY need a connected toaster oven?), the adoption rate will continue to rise.
An example: a week ago, I thought my husband was being a little indulgent asking for an Amazon Echo for his birthday. Now I probably talk to Alexa more than he does. I’m a multitasker by nature, and it helps me solve problems more quickly than if I sat down at my laptop to get those same questions answered. I’m a busy mom, so if there’s a connected toaster oven that helps me start dinner from my smart phone on the way home from soccer practice, I’ll probably consider it.
Second, the scope of this market is huge. The market does not just include billions of devices, but also platforms, sensors, applications, antennas, analytics, and so on. M2M and IoT covers so much ground, and because of that, there’s an awful lot of noise out there.
Third, the hype surrounding the M2M/IoT market is incredible. Check your favorite news source and chances are they’ve written one or more articles on the IoT in the past week. When everyone is announcing new applications, platforms, case studies, and consumer, business, and industrial devices, it’s hard to differentiate and tell people your unique value proposition.
OK, so the market is broad, large and filled with hype. How can marketers rise above the noise and find success in an IoT world? Let’s look at five ways:
1) Show me, don’t tell me: Your first inclination when talking about your M2M/IoT solution is to talk about what it IS instead of what it DOES. This is not the time to describe your offering in broad terms. Get specific and do it quickly. Know who the target market for your offering is, and talk to that market about the benefits your solution brings to their lives or their business. Don’t overextend yourself to try to be all things to all people in your IoT marketing if that’s not a natural fit for your solution.
2) Do your research: Literally, do some research. Partner with a trade association or an analyst group, or branch out on your own to conduct some on research that will be valuable to your segment of the industry, then publish the results. For example, TEOCO is an analytics company with many mobile operators as customers. TEOCO worked with Machina Research, a well-known and respected firm in the IoT/M2M sector to commission a study on the network management challenges that connected cars will have on mobile network operators. The results were published in an in-depth white paper. The topic and the findings were very relevant to their customers and helped identify TEOCO as a company with a solution to the problem.
On a lighter note, Excelacom, a global consulting, services and solutions provider for communications service providers, did some research and took a look at what happens in an Internet minute. The results were a fun infographic that incorporated both consumer and business applications and could easily be updated with M2M/IoT examples.
3) Be a resource. Your customers have needs, and as a market insider, you probably know them best. You understand their pain points, so take it a step further and offer a solution. And by solution, that doesn’t necessarily mean your actual product or service. In fact, your customers will appreciate guidance at a higher level even more. For example, in the M2M/ IoT space, security concerns are huge and may be a stumbling block to widespread adoption of products or services in your part of the industry. Consider creating a white paper, or blogging or tweeting a series of considerations in this area that can help your customers successfully navigate security. Build awareness and trust by helping your customers and prospects—and the industry at large—learn what they need to know.
4) Educate. Share relevant information and educate your audience. Calysto has done this (check out Calysto’s “Content Marketing, Social Media and Digital PR: 14 Stats and Quotes that Should Influence Your Communications Program”) and so have our clients. RacoWireless (now KORE) worked with the popular creators of the ‘Dummies’ books to publish ‘M2M for Dummies’ and subsequently ‘IoT for Dummies’ – both designed to help those in the industry understand how these technologies work, how they are being used and how to build a solution. In short, they simplified M2M and IoT, which was very welcome in the industry – and still is.
5) Lighten up. While this can be a very serious industry, it’s also a great place to show your lighter side. While we don’t suggest you become a Target Troll, a series of entertaining and informative posts, blogs, infographics and other content can really help you stand out.
The Internet of Things is a huge market with huge potential. Be smart, and find unique ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Need more suggestions? Calysto has created a great resource—The IoT Marketer—that can help.
This article originally appeared on the IABCs Communication World Observer blog.