Creating a Need in the Age of IoT

 In Marketing

Creating a Need in the Age of IoT

Chances are, you’ve wanted a gizmo, gadget, or thingamajig after an intelligent marketer planted a need for this product in your mind. You’re not alone. No human being emerged from the womb with the burning desire for a smartphone, motorized vehicle, or even clothing.

However, these needs often feel as if they’ve always existed. Now that Internet of Things has entered the marketing playbook, now more than ever we will see an escalation of need creation.

To explain what’s about to happen in the market place, we need to take a step back.

How need creation happens.

Travel back in time and think about life before you owned a smartphone. Now imagine what your world would be like without that rectangular robot in your pocket.

More likely than not, you’d experience a huge disruption in your everyday life:

No more games to pass the time in the bathroom.

No more texting your spouse about dinner plans.

No more push notification news updates to keep you informed.

Gone, all of it.

This gap exists because Apple made it happen. This phenomenon—the intense desire to own and use a product—occurred when Apple created a need. After doing so, millions upon millions of phones flew off the shelves.

Almost overnight, the public had a brand new desire for what equates to a pocketsize computer. With the iPhone, end users could streamline their appointments, send emails, be more active on social media, take pictures, and kill time while waiting for the bus.

That’s a sexy offer, for sure, but the success of a first-of-its-kind product like that is not owed to the iPhone being a cool, hip gadget. With over 100 million active iPhones in the US at this very moment, the device isn’t so much popular as it is necessary.

But it wasn’t always that way.

The public required a need, so Apple designed one. And they’re not the first, nor are they the last to do so. As IoT becomes more of a household name, you’ll notice the volume turned way up on need creation.

And there’s a right way and wrong way to go about it.

What is the code of ethics when creating a need?

When inbound marketers create a need, they tiptoe along a very thin line. On the one hand, the practice locks in new clients. Fair enough.

On the other hand, you risk getting into an Emperor’s New Clothes scenario—especially if there’s no reason for a previously non-existent desire to exist. This is why there’s a certain code of ethics inherit with need creation.

Many smart marketers opt to take the numbers-driven approach to selling a product or service that the audience doesn’t want at first. Rightfully so— enlightenment will bring new desires to fruition.

However, the ethics question becomes deeper subject matter given the nature of your industry.

I’m stepping on my moral high horse now, and I’m ready to declare the crux of the need creation ethics…

It’s about unabashed, brutal honesty—especially in the age of IoT.

IoT, or Internet of Things, is the next frontier of technology. In a nutshell, previously non-technical items such as trashcans, houses, and fast food vendors are now computerized entities.

Say what you will about this rise of machines, but IoT will become a dominant force not only for business, but also within our day-to-day existence. What started with timed sprinkler systems and solar-powered trash compactors has mutated into houses that automatically turn the air down when the sun burns hotter.

With the rise of IoT—specifically smart houses—hackers can literally turn on your oven with you being none the wiser. In the wearable tech arena, someone can make your Fitbit report that you’re having a heart attack.

There will be an increased need for security as technology takes on an even larger role in our life. Soon our gadgetry will become the wallpaper of modern life. We’ll cease to notice it, until it’s gone.

If you think security comes standard, think again. Technology comes to the marketplace at such breakneck speed that putting up firewalls to protect data, privacy, and civil liberties can’t happen fast enough.

That said, surveillance is another grave concern. Imagine the most intimate parts of your life viewed through a keyhole—only said keyhole is your computer’s camera. While this is unlikely to happen, technology exists that makes it possible.

For this reason, the tech world is busy creating the need for heightened security in new-fangled technologies.

Theresa Payton, former White House CIO, and expert in cyber security has laid it out on the line.

I am greatly concerned about the security of our infrastructure. Many people do not realize that 85% of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure is controlled by the private sector—which means everyone plays a role but nobody is really in charge.

There is no doubt in my mind that the criminal and international elements will play a central role in breaches and other major disruptions that could impact transportation, the flow of money, the economy, energy, and overall confidence in our infrastructure.”

When I interviewed Theresa a while back, she opened my eyes to what’s at stake. Even for a guy who works in inbound marketing/search optimization, Mrs. Payton showed me how and why security is so paramount and how it’s my responsibility to take a stand.

The caveat…

Security comes as an afterthought. To me, that’s like putting windows on a house without the framing. IoT means our privacy and safety hang by a flimsy thread, and there is a need that must be created and fulfilled.

Keep this in mind: creating a need is not meant to frighten people. At least it shouldn’t be. The ethics of this practice demand that marketers in the tech industry educate audiences on what they don’t know.

For tech people who are tasked with marketing initiatives, this means heightening security and having a willingness to protect people. As it stands, there is no ironclad line of defense between information and the public. When data changes hands, the firewalls fall down.

I mean—do you really want the government to know which TV shows you’re watching?

Or what kind of soap you’re buying at Trader Joes? Just for the record, mine is that Tea Tingle—I feel like a candy cane afterwards!

In the information age, marketing has become a goldmine of data that is primed for harvesting. Some of it is used for the common good—such as heightening the user experience. Other information is used for no purpose other than a breach of privacy.

That’s why I stand with Theresa Payton and everyone else who is dedicated to technical advancement that keeps our civil liberties in check.

The thing is, not everyone knows there is need for new security with the rise of IoT. Or if they do know, they might not care.

They should care.

They need to care.

And it’s up to people like us to make them care.

Tell me what you think in the comments below!

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