Leverage Reference Customers

By Mark Roberti

Getting end users to stand up and tell other end users how they benefited from your solution is the best way to generate new business.

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A few years ago, RFID Global Solution sponsored an RFID Journal webinar in which an executive from Bank of America spoke about his firm’s use of RFID to track IT assets (see Bank of America’s RFID Data Center Inventory Project and Bank of America Deploys RFID in Data Centers). This attracted more than 100 end users to sign up. And within an hour of the webinar’s conclusion, RFID Global Solution received a call from Cisco Systems, which eventually conducted a very large deployment with the firm (see Cisco Tracks IT Assets Via RFID).

This is just the most dramatic example of a reference customer helping an RFID solution provider grow its business—which is the best way to grow your RFID business. “Crossing the Chasm,” Geoffrey Moore’s seminal book about the technology adoption lifecycle, says that most companies are skeptical about new technologies, and that reference customers are critical to overcoming that skepticism. According to Moore, it is essential to use one reference customer to get another in the same industry, then another and another. Eventually, you will reach a tipping point and everyone in the industry will adopt your solution (and then you target a related industry, but that’s another story).

Reference customers are key, though I know they are hard to come by. Many customers do not wish to speak publicly about the great benefits they are achieving from RFID technology. If you can get an end user to speak at an RFID event, other end users with a similar business problem will be much more likely to engage with you then they would if you simply gave them your sales pitch. End users see other end users as objective references.

If you do have a customer, you can write up a case study, which you can offer online through targeted advertising (see Targeted Banner Ads Work) or as an incentive to get the right event attendees to your booth (see Use White Papers to Draw People to Your Booth).

If you have a reference customer that will speak during a webinar, then that is even better, because as the sponsor of the webinar, you will obtain contact information from everyone who signs up. You can also sponsor a session at an RFID event and then invite your customer to speak at it. This always attracts more attendees. You can offer a lucky draw and collect the business cards of everyone in the room, in order to capture their leads. What’s more, you might be able to record the session and use it on your website, or leverage it in other ways to capture the names of more people researching RFID who are ready to invest in your solution.

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.