You Can’t Deploy What You Can’t See

By Mark Roberti

Lack of awareness about RFID products is hindering adoption.

During our recent RFID in Aerospace and Defense event, I had the opportunity to speak to an executive from a major aerospace company. He was enthusiastic about an RFID system that was being exhibited. "I was not aware that anything like that existed," he told me. "We're going to deploy that solution for an application we have been looking at."

This, unfortunately, is one of the problems facing the RFID industry. Adoption has been slower than expected, so solution providers don't have a lot of money available to market their products. Since companies seeking solutions do not know about the products available, they cannot buy them, which contributes to the slow pace of adoption.

In his book Escape Velocity, Geoffrey Moore suggests that businesses need to budget the same amount for marketing as they do for product development. That means, if a company spends $500,000 developing a new RFID reader, it should spend $500,000 on sustained promotion of that product as well. Very few RFID companies are doing this, simply because they lack the million dollars needed.

As the market picks up, companies will have more money to invest in advertising, and users will learn about specific RFID solutions that meet their needs. They will adopt those systems, which will give solution providers more funds to advertise, thereby accelerating the pace of adoption.

In the meantime, smart companies can carry out marketing targeted to specific groups that are most likely to be interested in their solution. For example, instead of marketing an oil and gas RFID solution on an energy sector news site, where most people are not involved with RFID projects, a firm should seek out ways in which to find energy sector executives researching RFID solutions.

We've hosted events targeted to specific industries—such as aerospace and defense, health care, energy and retail—because it's a way to connect buyers interested in specific RFID solutions with companies selling such systems. As the conversation described above shows, this works.

We have also created very targeted advertising solutions by which RFID companies can market their products to those reading about such solutions. For example, if a company were offering a tool-tracking solution, we could show its ad only to those reading about RFID tool-tracking applications. Unfortunately, too few RFID companies have taken advantage of this because they often budget nothing for promoting a new product or solution.

Is there a way out of this situation, or do we need to just wait for the market to slowly gather momentum? I believe there is a way out—and that is for companies to conduct very low-cost targeted marketing, win customers and then promote those customers' success stories. Some firms will eventually do this, particularly if they are pushed by angel investors to do so. I believe that the companies that win in the RFID market are not the ones with the best solutions, but rather those with the best solutions and smart 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 or the Editor's Note archive.