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Marketing Mistakes By RFID Vendors

At this stage of market adoption, selling RFID is still about targeting those companies interested in investing in a relatively unproven technology.
By Mark Roberti
Aug 10, 2015

Last week, I wrote about how frustrating it is that companies seeking radio frequency identification solutions can't find the products that meet their needs (see Hooking Up End Users and Solution Providers). I believe there are a lot of firms out there looking for RFID solutions. I see it in the traffic to our site. But often, they can't find the products they are looking for. Some contact me for help. Many don't.

If the numerous products available were more transparent, potential buyers would find the right solution and deploy it. This would benefit solution providers. Moreover, RFID Journal might write about the deployment and other end users might hear about it and deploy a similar solution. So when one potential user of RFID doesn't find a solution, it slows adoption.

A big part of the problem, I believe, is the vendor community's focus on numbers. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine you are a marketer for an RFID company focused on, say, manufacturing. You have a choice between two events. One is a manufacturing event where there will be 10,000 executives from manufacturing firms worldwide. The other is an RFID event where there might be 100 executives from manufacturing firms.

Most marketers would choose the manufacturing industry event, believing the company's crack salespeople will be able to convince attendees to invest in their RFID solution. It doesn't work at this stage of market adoption, as Geoffrey Moore explains in detail in his seminal work "Crossing the Chasm." But you only need to look around to see that it doesn't work. If it did, most manufacturers would be using RFID. Many RFID companies have tried this approach, only to abandon it when the leads they got were ice-cold.

The same happens with advertising. Companies selling a health-care solution will advertise on a health-care site where no one has expressed an interest in RFID. As a result, they don't have any funding to invest in advertising on an RFID site that is visited by those in health care seeking an RFID solution. Or even if they do have the funding, they think they will reach only a few hundred health-care executives, and they would rather reach tens of thousands, believing that if they achieved a 1 percent conversion rate in both places, they would do much better on the health-care site.

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