Nov 21, 2013We see a lot of RFID companies spending a significant amount of money on research and product development. They create great new products. But often, once these new products are ready to be launched, little or no money is allocated for marketing. Your engineers might have worked tirelessly for the past year, developing the most innovative and coolest new RFID product in the world—but if no one knows about it, it will be difficult to generate revenue. Without awareness among buyers, your product does not exist.
This situation is not just common to smaller firms. Large RFID solution providers also invest far more in research and development than in marketing their new products. The irony is that, regardless of your company's size and budget, it is not only possible, but imperative to consistently market your company and products. It doesn't take a lot of money to get started—some of the best and most memorable marketing campaigns have been created with limited dollars and resources. By consistently building and marketing your brand, you will ensure that you are top of mind for customers, in any economic situation.
Here are some guidelines on how to build market share on a budget:
Define your brand: If you haven't already defined your brand, figure out what is important about your product or service, as well as what makes you different from your competitors. Are you the lowest-cost tag or reader provider, for instance? Are you the systems integrator that is a master of RF physics and can achieve high read rates? Or are you the integrator that focuses primarily on the aerospace or energy sector?
Once you know who you are and what you stand for, stay true to it and present a consistent image throughout all of your communications with prospects and customers. Don't change your overall brand image to appeal to different audiences, and don't try to be something you are not. Being consistent will help give your company longevity.
Maintain your website: Your website is your most important marketing vehicle, and often gives prospects their first impression of your company. Make sure it is clearly stated on your homepage what you do and which industries you serve. Keep the graphics and content up-to-date. Remove old products and make sure there are links to your latest product specs. If you have case studies you can tout, feature them prominently. And be sure to ask your customers if you can post testimonials from them on the site.
Your website can also serve as a lead-capture tool. Make it easy for a potential customer to contact you. Include a lead-capture form and give visitors a reason to fill it out. Offer them a white paper or case study. If you are advertising, create a special landing page related to your advertisement—don't just send a person who clicks on your ad to your generic homepage.
Pick a segment on which to focus: Your products might appeal to a large group of people, but that presents a problem when it comes to marketing your business on a limited budget. The more potential customers you want to reach, the more time and money it will cost to do so. Selecting a segment of your total potential audience to focus on will help lower your marketing costs. For example, if you offer an RFID solution for liquids, you may want to try starting with a target segment, such as food or chemicals. This will also make it easier to create a targeted message to specifically resonate with that group.
Focus on customers researching RFID solutions: If the segment you choose is, say, retail, then advertising on a retail website might seem to make a lot of sense. You will, after all, get a lot of retailers looking at your ad. The problem is that you will need to spend a lot of money to get a lot of impressions on these sites, and the retailers viewing your ad will probably not be interested in deploying an RFID solution. It's more effective—and less expensive—to target retailers that are researching RFID solutions. That means focusing your marketing efforts on the vehicles retailers are using to educate themselves about RFID.
Social media: Companies of all sizes can benefit from having direct access to their customers and prospects via social-media channels. Be sure to share posts, pictures and videos that are of interest to your audience, not just a sales pitch. Stay current with industry topics and engage in social-media conversations. Share new product launches, case studies and industry articles, as well as your participation in events and any other promotions you may be offering. But don't forget, RFID technology is a business-to-business offering, so social media is not a replacement for traditional marketing—it is merely a tool to get added brand exposure.
Partnerships: Develop partnerships and relationships with companies that offer complementary products or services. Many companies do not offer end-to-end solutions, and these types of partnerships can help meet end users' need. They also provide cross-referrals. You can work together to create RFID white papers, sponsor webinars, expand exhibit space and offer technology demonstrations at events. This will allow you to collaborate on ideas and resources, and to broaden your marketing reach. It also helps to share the cost of content creation.
Public relations: Issuing a press release will not break the bank for any company. If you are launching a new product or have something new to announce, craft a press release about your story. Be sure to focus on how your product benefits the intended customer, rather than focusing on technical improvements. And don't forget to include your website URL, contact information and relevant keywords about your news for maximum exposure.
Mail letters: Direct mail still works, though few RFID solution providers consider this option due to the expense of postage. However, segmenting your audience decreases direct-mail costs, just as with online marketing. If you offer an RFID solution for the retail industry, it probably makes little sense to send out 100,000 product brochures to executives in that sector. But it might make a lot of sense to send personalized letters to 1,000 retailers investigating RFID's potential.
Listen to your customers: Make sure someone is reading and responding to any questions, feedback or interactions you may be receiving via social media, your website, e-mails or events. Customer service is one of the most important aspects of a business relationship. Happy customers are your best advocates for referrals.
Sitting back and waiting for customers to find you, simply because you built an RFID-enabled mouse trap, is not a marketing plan. Try some of the free, low-cost marketing opportunities above to begin building your market share today.
Sonja Valenta is RFID Journal's VP of marketing. For a free consultation about your RFID marketing strategy, e-mail email@example.com.