Hooking Up End Users and Solution Providers

By Mark Roberti

It's driving me crazy that RFID vendors don't understand how to find companies that are looking for their products.

I received two e-mails this week from executives at businesses that want to use radio frequency identification for different applications but are unable to figure out which companies might help them. "Your site has tremendous information and I've learned a lot," one said. "But it is a bit overwhelming. There are so many different types of RFID and so many vendors. One doesn't know where to begin. Please help!"

Shortly after I gave this person advice about the type of RFID that would best suit his asset-tracking application and recommended some companies to reach out to, I received an e-mail from a vendor asking how he could find end users that might be interested in RFID.

This, folks, is my unending frustration. We have thousands of people visiting our site each week, looking for RFID solutions. They read articles about RFID projects that are similar to the ones they want to deploy. They often contact the companies mentioned in a story, but they have no idea what other vendors could provide a solution. The person above wanted to manage medical devices and said he had reached out to a few companies mentioned in our articles about medical device tracking, but had no idea if there were other providers in that space.

I thought I had solved this problem a few years ago. RFID Journal developed an ad- serving capability that allows us to target ads on our website to specific geographic regions and channels, such as health care and retail—and down to a very specific topic. For example, if a solution provider is selling tags, readers or software—or better yet, a complete solution—for tracking medical devices, we can show that company's ad only to people like the person above who is reading about tracking medical devices. I thought RFID marketers would realize this is the most efficient way possible to target the people they most want to reach. We offered this to solution providers on a pay-per-click basis, so they wouldn't be charged if someone saw the ad but didn't click on it.

A marketer's dream, right? Pay to reach only the people who are your target audience and no one else. It doesn't get any better than that. Unfortunately, RFID companies have failed to grasp the power of this marketing solution. Some firms with very niche applications, such as blood tracking, say they don't want to have an ad that might get only 100 clicks a year. They don't grasp that there are very few people looking for their niche solution, and these are the 100 people they most want to reach.

We had one advertiser whose ad received a tremendous response—all the clicks they purchased were used within the first month. Yet, they were upset. "We only got a month's worth of advertising," the marketing person said. "Wait," I responded, "you are upset because your ad was successful and drove people to your site?"

One of the biggest problems in the RFID industry, and one of the reasons the industry is growing slowly, is that most small- to mid-size RFID companies are run by engineers who developed an RFID product. They are suspicious of marketing and believe that because their product is so good, everyone should just beat a path to their door. I don't understand how they think end-user companies will learn about their terrific product if they don't advertise it.

They don't realize that if they just spent a little bit of money wisely, they could grow their business, then have more budget for marketing, and thus grow more. Heck, one of these small companies, if it played its cards right, could become the RFID gorilla.

When the market begins to grow faster, RFID companies will have more income and feel more comfortable allocating some funds to marketing. But how can the market grow faster if people don't know what solutions are available? I thought I had a good answer, but marketing tools don't work if vendors don't use them. Meanwhile, I will keep doing my best to help end users find the solution providers that can meet their needs.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.