The promise of the IoT is making it extremely attractive for product companies looking to innovate, differentiate and create new revenue streams for their business. Building a connected product is certainly hard, but launching an IoT product and getting it to market can be even harder.
The loT landscape today is complex and very noisy. Everyone is rushing to get a connected product (and in some cases any connected product) to market. I have seen some really ground-breaking IoT-enabled products hit the shelves this last year and others that I imagine will end up nothing more than a fad. Yet, even those products still create noise that can drown out the launch and sustainability of a truly great product.
In addition to the mad rush of competition from other connected product companies, there is also broad competition from their unconnected counterparts. The IoT is still in the early-adopter stages and there are many consumers out there that don’t trust or see the value in an IoT connected product quite yet. We know, like similar technology revolutions, mass adoption isn’t far away, but we aren’t quite there yet.
So how do you break through the noise and differentiate yourself?
The best advice I give to product companies is to first ask yourself a couple of questions before even setting off to build your product:
1.) Does my connected product add value to my customer (i.e. what does it offer that it’s unconnected and likely cheaper counterpart does not?)
2.)Will my connected product add value to my business? Will it create new revenue streams?
3.)How can I get the most out of the IoT for my business and my customers?
If you can adequately answer these, you can help ensure you aren’t creating a connected product for a connected product’s sake, but actually introducing something to the market that your customers will want to buy.
The next step is to make sure you have the resources to actually build a secure, reliable and scalable connected product. If not, find the right partner that can help you ensure the long-term success of the product.
Of course, you can build the greatest product in the world and if no one knows about it, it won’t do you much good. The marketing and sales plan should be on the minds of the stakeholders before the project even gets funded. How are we going to get this out to the people? Having funding (whether crowd-sourced, VC-backed, or otherwise) doesn’t guarantee success. Money is always a key factor, but it cannot replace smart, creative sales and marketing campaigns. Invest in these aspects because while word-of-mouth may work for some, its success rate is uncertain at best.
Other tips include:
Leverage retail sales channels. Even the best advertising can’t beat consumers seeing your product on the shelves.
Don’t underestimate the power of the media. They say “any press is good press.” I’m not so sure that is true, but being positively spotlighted by the right people can change your business overnight.
Identify the best places to do promotions. Industry events are great for guerrilla marketing and other types of promotional activities. Identify the best and most impactful events and have a presence – even if it’s just a small one – at those shows. Industry shows are where the products of tomorrow are launched. Everyone from media and industry analysts to retail buyers, to consumers attend to scope out the new “must-have” products.
The key for launching any product, but especially connected products, is exposure. Even with tight budgets marketing and sales can’t be ignored. For consumer products, there is no bigger opportunity for exposure than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas every January. It’s crazy, large, and extremely noisy. CES has been the launching pad for everything from the VCR to the plasma TV. Because of its popularity, it can be hard for smaller companies to make a big splash – but not impossible. If you’re planning to attend CES this year or are interested in learning more on how to launch a connected product in general, I am hosting a webinar this week on September 8th along with ReadWrite’s Publisher Christopher Caen and Melissa Andresko from connected lighting manufacturer (and frequent CES exhibitor) Lutron to provide tips and tricks for connected product companies looking to get noticed. Register here.
This article was produced in partnership with Xively by LogMeIn.