Brand Matters—at Least to Some RFID Companies

Those firms that have the greatest brand recognition are the ones putting the most effort into burnishing their brand's image.
Published: February 17, 2011

Feb. 17, 2011—I find it interesting that the majority of the companies that have purchased our “2011 RFID Brand Report” and “2011 RFID Marketing Strategies Report” are already among the leading brands. But it’s not a total surprise, I guess. They are in the top 10 because they have focused on building their brands, and they bought the reports because they continue to focus on doing so. It’s sort of like how people who have saved and invested wisely are most likely to utilize a financial planner, while those who really need a financial planner often don’t use one.

But I do find it a bit odd that companies that work hard to build new products don’t always bother to research the best way to sell them. It’s sort of like training for the Olympics, and then not reading the rules for your competition. You wind up getting disqualified and, as a result, all of your hard work ends up wasted.

That’s the way I feel about businesses that I know have great products but don’t market them effectively. Building a great product is the hard part. Marketing effectively is a matter of researching the market and tailoring your approach.

I was speaking to a company the other day that has chosen not to exhibit at this year’s RFID Journal LIVE! conference—to be held on Apr. 12-14, 2011, in Orlando, Fla.—and has instead decided to focus on vertical-industry events, such as Pack Expo and the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Exposition. On the face of it, this might seem to make some sense; if you have an RFID solution for food service, then there will be a lot of food-service executives there to whom you can market your products.

The problem is, those execs are not at that show to buy an RFID solution. If a food-service executive is interested in an RFID solution, he or she will attend an RFID-related event. Our research, in fact, shows that very few of our readers go to vertical-industry events. The “Marketing Strategies Report” we put together with Burnell Reports reveals the same thing. And the fact that RFID companies that exhibit at vertical events almost never go back is further evidence that RFID buyers at this stage of the market are not at vertical-industry events—they are at RFID events.

The “2011 Brand Report” can tell RFID companies where they stand in the marketplace, and the “2011 Marketing Strategies Report” can tell them how to improve their brand awareness cost-effectively (see RFID Journal Releases Marketing and Brand Reports and Brand Report Identifies Potential RFID Gorillas). RFID is not a mass-market technology, so Super Bowl ads would be a waste of money. But the good news is that the market is still at a stage at which RFID companies can improve their brand awareness without spending millions of dollars. The smart use of white papers, webinars and other high-quality content can really make a change. One company that cracked the top 10 brands from the previous survey probably spends no more than $50,000 a year on marketing.

RFID Journal has had to reduce its marketing budget since the economic crisis in 2008, but we did so smartly. For LIVE! 2011, we looked at which direct-mail lists were getting us attendees, and which were not. As a result, we stopped buying lists from vertical-industry publications and associations, because they earned us almost nothing. In 2009, we saved more than $100,000 in marketing expenditures without any reduction in attendance at that year’s LIVE! conference. That’s why I firmly believe research is critical to successful marketing.

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.