IoT-dedicated events are the hottest trend in the trade show world. If you are reading this, it’s likely you have exhibited at one of these many events or are budgeting to do so in the very near future. Being a veteran of these events, I can tell you one obvious fact about these shows: they are populated by a lot of what I call “10 by 10s.” This is my designation for the standard 10′ x 10′ booth that is the entry point for exhibiting at any trade show. Probably no other industry has such a high concentration of these “beginner” booths than the internet of things.
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Most people would shrug this off as a statistic only important to those in the trade show business. But it’s actually a clear indication of the state of the internet of things: it’s made up of lots and lots of very small companies trying to gain attention for their “thing” in the vast ecosystem of innovation that is IoT. A fair number of these 10′ x 10′ exhibitor companies are made up of no more than two or three people with very limited budgets. Many will exhibit at one show and fade away before the next. That is the IoT world today, an innovation freight train that’s hard to stay on and easy to fall off!
So you’re a 10 by 10 and know you have something great to share with the industry and world. But, like most 10 x 10s, your talents are technically based — engineering, software, cloud, machine learning, etc. You have no solid idea or experience in how to market and sell yourself correctly outside of a website and basic social media efforts. And of course your finances, whether funded or not, are limited.
So when it comes to marketing and promoting your “thing” efficiently, effectively, clearly and with limited to no budget, what do you do? How do you do it? When you do try something, do you end up spending money only to watch as your budget evaporates away with no tangible results? Do you wonder how your competitors break into new markets and build traction?
Here are five tips to help your 10 x 10 company promote, market and drive awareness of your “thing” without breaking the bank and help you grow out of that beginner booth.
1. Find a role model
If you want to achieve something in life, you could blindly go into it without taking any form of advice. We all want our ideas to evolve into successful products and companies. One of the greatest challenges of IoT is overcoming the embedded complexity of this ecosystem to convey your message in a fashion that anyone, especially the non-technical, will understand.
The likelihood is that you will make several mistakes unless you find someone who has done it before successfully and implement some of their tools and techniques. This does not mean copying, but analyzing what made something work and see if it can be utilized in your business sector. It matters not if your role model is Cisco, IBM, Verizon or other 10 x 10-ers that have moved up to 10 x 20s.
For example, take a look at the campaign that Bosch ran that exhibited many benefits of IoT in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way. This ad represents why Bosch has become one of the leading companies in IoT. You could learn from Bosch and make a fun, creative video that engages your audience and leaves them wanting more.
Not sure how to find a role model? Do a search on YouTube as to how other companies have marketed their products. Why not start with Bosch to really get your “outside of the box” juices flowing?
Through successful networking, companies can rapidly make contact with other organizations, groups and individuals who share similar interests to themselves. I’m sure you already use sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, which offer great opportunities to get you started at no cost whatsoever.
But do you know how to really use these and others tools the most effective way?
Why not start your own group on LinkedIn to attract other members who can offer solid advice and who share similar interests? Or join some of the IoT-focused groups that already exist and become an active member to meet others and share a steady stream of content while seeking guidance from the group. However, if you are new to all of this, as some entrepreneurs still are, why not follow tip number one and find out how other people network and use these sites effectively?
3. Use Copybook
A little known platform, but one that I have used with great results, is Copybook. This is a global business network that allows any company to add unlimited information, pictures, videos and links to your social media streams. You can even add yourself to real trade shows and events worldwide and it is all for FREE. The moment we added our company, our business profile was shared across Copybook’s network and we instantly had over 500 connections, some of which led to inquiries and new business.
This has been the most exciting discovery (which came to me through practicing #1, finding a role model). Where LinkedIn connects business people globally, Copybook is about connecting companies globally. Check it out. Signing up and creating your company profile is easy and quick. Then learn how to get the most out of this valuable tool to drive global awareness for your company.
4. Ask your prospects and customers
All too often people are reluctant to ask their prospects and customers for input on your offerings and what else they would like to see you provide. This is crazy as it is precisely your valued clients who you are trying to satisfy.
Learn about their business and level of understanding about IoT. Remember, IoT is not a place where you just build a “thing” and expect a ready market to say thank you by buying everything you produce. You must first understand your target market, their needs and how you can best fill them.
Ask them how you are doing and what else your company could offer that would meet additional needs they may have. Be a consultant first and you will be amazed at the guidance your prospects and customers will give you!
5. Learn from what happens
Frequently, companies try different methods but do not keep an accurate record of what works. Then, in a few months’ time, they find themselves in a similar situation and often make the same mistakes all over again.
Each time you try any form of marketing or advertising strategy, keep an accurate record of what you did and what the results were. Note in detail everything about your efforts including timing (day, week, time of day, etc.), audience (who was your campaign aimed at), size (how large an audience), exact description of what you did, etc. Remember, the “devil is in details” — and that is so true of all marketing campaigns.
Even those 10′ x 10′ trade show booths are expensive. Would you exhibit at an IoT trade show and NOT track every possible metric from the show? If you answered no to this, you need to hire me right now as your IoT consultant so I can get you on track and keep you from wasting money. The metrics you must generate from every trade show represents the same type of effort you should put forth with every marketing, sales and promotional program used by your company.
Your time is valuable. Your money is finite. Use both wisely as the success, or failure, of your business depends on you doing so. Remember, being a 10 by 10 is just the starting point. Good luck, here’s to your success!
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