If your responsibilities include marketing communications strategy for an Internet of Things company, you know that the IoT is an exciting space, one of the few real bright spots for growth in today’s world economy. People are eager for news and technology announcements because the applicability of IoT technology is so broad, and because many IoT products and services will genuinely change our lives for the better.
The IoT marketing communications challenge, of course, is that thousands of companies are jockeying for business, investments and share of mind. So it’s especially important to make your company’s virtues and value quickly understandable – a subject we will touch on regularly in this space.
What we’re talking about is a combination of positioning (which stems largely from your technology and business model) and language (which derives from your understanding of your marketplace and your potential customers and partners).
One helpful starting point comes from Frank Burkitt, an advisor at Strategy&, who in a recent article divided IoT companies into three broad categories:
- “Enablers” that develop and implement the underlying technology
- “Engagers” that design, create, integrate and deliver IoT services to customers
- “Enhancers” that devise their own value-added services, on top of the services provided by Engagers, that are unique to the Internet of Things
As marketers and communicators, we can think about what sort of company will do best in each of these categories, and use this as a basis for our strategic thinking.
Many Enablers, for example, would be well served to present themselves as a “plays well with others” company – open, friendly, flexible and dedicated to making it easy for your customers to accomplish their goals. A model for this B-to-B oriented category might be Cisco’s historical approach to enabling Internet data communication across a wide range of applications.
Engagers often have more space to emphasize their creativity, genius and boldness. There’s room to be an individual star when you’re selling a disruptive product or service directly to end-users. Apple is a classic example; by making the user experience their top priority, they transcended the traditional “tech company” realm, while offering versatile technology platforms.
Enhancers might typically want to be seen as perceptive, smart and reliable – the kind of company that notices something that others don’t, and finds a way to make useful new connections. Examples include Pandora or Facebook – neither is a technological groundbreaker, but both have won tremendous loyalty by leveraging existing technology platforms to fulfill basic human needs and desires.
These are, obviously, generalities; every enterprise has a unique challenge and needs unique positioning and language. But these basic directions are a good first step towards an IoT branding and marketing communications strategy, or even a basic public relations program.
By Pete Dunn