Starting an Internet of Things Business Blog Series: Marketing and selling the idea

Al Sisto

Blog by: Al Sisto - 20 / Jul / 2017

Today’s blog is the second in our series looking at how you can start – and, crucially, make a success of – a brand new Internet of Things (IoT) business.

We started off by looking at how you can develop an IoT business idea with real potential, and some of the design skills, applications and equipment you might need to turn it into a reality. Click here to read that blog in more detail. Today, we’re moving on to look at how you turn that start-up from being something that only you understand to something that your potential partners, suppliers and above all, customers can make sense of. In other words, how do you market and sell that idea?

What is marketing?

You might want to start by reading our ‘Marketing 101’ blog, which explains that, at its core, marketing has two clear aims – to retain the customers you already have, and to attract new ones. Obviously, for a brand-new business, the latter of these two aims is the most pressing one!

What makes this process so interesting for a new Internet of Things (IoT) business is that the IoT landscape is particularly dynamic and fast-changing – as well as still being relatively new. This means that there is an unusually large amount of education to be done in terms of teaching potential customers about what the IoT actually is, and what it could mean for them.

The bad news, of course, is that this means an additional workload for IoT businesses compared with other start-ups. The good news is that it can be extremely rapid. After all, no one knew was a smart fridge was a few years ago.

The connected message

As a new IoT business owner, your marketing should centre on the question of how IoT technology – that is, the ability of something to transmit data over the Internet – improves life for your customers. What process does it improve? What problem does it solve? Of course, in the IoT world, the problems being tackled are often issues customers didn’t know they were facing in the first place – so it’s your job, then, to communicate the problem and the solution.

The IoT is fundamentally about connecting different devices, sensors and sources of information to each other – across whole new pathways – so your marketing needs to centre on that connected message.

The branding

Developing a strong, relevant and compelling brand is a key part of marketing too. This is about much more than just a pretty logo. It’s about thing like tone of voice and personality and your promise to customers. We’ve developed a series of blogs on how to develop any business brand from scratch, not just an IoT business, so we suggest you click here to give those a read.

The product

It’s important to remember that, ultimately, you’re not marketing yourself, or even your idea – you’re marketing a tangible product or service. And unless that product or service is fully developed, tested and optimised to the greatest possible degree, you’re starting your marketing off on the back foot.

Where have you tested your offering? Have you run focus groups? Sent out samples and received feedback? Compared against competing products or services? These are all vital elements in building your strategy.

The strategy

And that leads us to the final element of marketing your new IoT business – coming up with a sensible calendar of marketing activity to see you through your company’s first few months. Marketing can have a long lead time, particularly when you are selling something brand new, so it’s important to be sensible about how long you expect your sales cycle to be from the outset.

Watch out for our next blog in the Starting an IoT Business Series on ‘Funding’. Or if you're interested in learning more about running an IoT business, why not subscribe to our blog and receive a monthly blog roundup?

Topics: marketing, entrepreneur, sme, IoT, starting a business, startup, sales

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