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March 2020
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How Marketing can better the Building Automation industry

Marketing is so much more than advertising, and that is something this industry doesn’t seem to understand very well.

Monica McMahen

Monica McMahen,
Director of Marketing,
Optigo Networks


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I know what you’re thinking: “Actually, I don’t need spam email and I think I would be a lot better off without those annoying ads that follow me everywhere on the internet.” And I’m not here to argue that. But marketing is so much more than advertising, and that is something this industry doesn’t seem to understand very well.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” What you see at the end of this is ads, emails, and tradeshow booths. But what you don’t see are the hours talking to customers, understanding where the needs lie, analyzing competition, and figuring out how you are different. This is the true value of marketing.

Unfortunately, a lot of the marketing in this industry seems to be done by technicians who were thrown into a marketing role. Have you ever tried hiring a marketer to program a BAS system? I’m guessing you think that’s a crazy idea. So why are you having your BAS specialists do your marketing?

A good marketer can learn a new industry. It may take a few months, but it’s worth it because they bring skills with them that you desperately need. They will help you understand what customers want. They can help you make changes and adapt so that you can win bids on value, rather than by having the lowest price. They can help people understand how you are different from the competition before the point of a full-on product demo. And gosh darn it, they can help you cut down on cold calling.

Let me give you an example. When I first started at Optigo, we used to show our switches in a rack at tradeshows. They are built to go in a rack, so this was an obvious way to showcase them. However, one of the core values that Optigo Connect brings to the customer is the ability to split the fiber. When the switches are in a rack, the fiber is neatly tucked away in the back, and the bypassers just see switches. Realizing this, we changed our booth to showcase the fiber splitting. Now that I’ve laid it out for you, it likely makes logical sense. But when you are an engineer trying to figure out how to showcase switches, it’s not the first conclusion you jump to.

Reliable Controls This is the value of hiring someone who thinks not just about the technology, but about how to communicate the value of it and of the whole company.

Now, I realize that it’s not realistic for every single system integrator to have a marketer on staff. There are simply more urgent priorities for an additional headcount. But, whether you’re an SI, MSI, or manufacturer, as you grow out your sales team, consider adding a marketer. You will be surprised at the value they can bring.





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