Let’s Get Vertical (With Your IoT Marketing Strategy)

By now, it’s well-established that organizations are going to be able to do—and are already doing—some pretty cool things with the Internet of Things (IoT). From agriculture to zoology, every vertical industry is being wowed by applications that make organizations more efficient while helping them reduce costs, among a host of other benefits. But is your company well-positioned to reach those audiences?

Out of the gate, many companies aren’t vertically focused—they developed a solution for IoT, not healthcare IoT or retail IoT. And that is perfectly fine. However, as organizations looking for solutions get more IoT-savvy, they naturally gravitate to those that claim to meet their very specific needs. And your company definitely wants to be on that short list as organizations make their IoT decisions.

Developing a vertical market focus is not necessarily a product problem—oftentimes it’s a marketing problem. Today, successful IoT vendors and solutions providers need to take both a vertical and a horizontal approach to building and marketing their solutions and products. What does that mean? In short, companies need to build horizontally and market vertically. Or taking a different approach, some companies are going beyond the vertical and targeting specific use cases, which oftentimes will cross vertical markets. A good example of this is asset tracking—most organizations have a need for solutions that track their most valuable assets, whether they be crash carts in hospital environments or bulldozers in a construction zone.

As your vertical marketing strategy begins to take shape, your PR firm can help determine how to make the most impact in terms of your IoT positioning and messaging, content marketing, media and analyst relations, and social media. Here are five things to keep in mind as you develop a vertical market strategy:

  1. Find your focus: Select two or three verticals or one or two themes within the broader market—and stick with it for a few months. Unless you’re a well-established company, you won’t be able to handle much more than this. Now, focus on specifically those markets for several months (in tandem with your regular marketing activities). Attend trade shows in that vertical (more on that below). Plan out your strategy and themes quarter by quarter and you’ll get stronger results than a one-off project.
  2. Use industry events as a guide: Industry trade shows can be a helpful barometer as to how your product or solution will be accepted by the market. While only the strongest survived in terms of broad-based IoT shows, most vertical markets have now incorporated IoT tracks in their conference programs and companies with IoT solutions are spread throughout the show floors. Attend a few shows with a small presence, or work with our PR firm to help secure a speaking spot (keeping in mind that vertical market shows may require a certain level of sponsorship for speaking opportunities). Figure out where you’re gaining the most traction and push harder in those areas.
  3. Treat your approach to each market differently. Make no doubt about it, the sophistication level of IoT buyers is starting to rise. While some are still struggling to figure out what the IoT means for their company, others are ready to roll. Simply adding some vertical terms to your website and in product brochures isn’t enough for this market. They need deeper messages that show you understand their pain points and have the best solution to solve their problems. Note: Vertical marketing may mean working with other companies as part of an overall solution rather than acting as a stand-alone offering.
  4. Use quality over quantity for marketing materials. Make it simple for potential buyers to learn more about what makes you unique. Key collateral for vertical markets includes:
    1. A specific page on your website (with a direct dropdown from the homepage navigation)
    2. A video that succinctly explains your role in the industry to your potential customers
    3. A customer case study with a named or unnamed client. Blind case studies can be effective, but if you have a named customer, this is even better.
    4. A white paper or two that tackles key issues in the vertical which you are targeting. The first can be all of the benefits for the specific market, and the other can cross vertical markets to tackle a specific use case. Don’t forget to repurpose, repurpose, repurpose in your blog and elsewhere on your site!
  5. Consider contributed articles or columns: These can be great for both awareness and SEO (once you post on your own site). Don’t forget to repurpose these articles over time to dive more deeply into a topic.

As IoT buyers search for solutions to meet their growing needs, a well-honed vertical market approach to IoT marketing can help IoT vendors and solutions providers end up on the short list. By working closely with your PR team to develop a plan for positioning and messaging, content marketing, public relations and social media alongside your strategy, you can ensure these efforts will provide results.

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