What does the “smart” in smart technology really mean?


photo credit: smiteme
Everybody loves the word “smart”.  We like to be called smart, we like to have our children grow up to be smart and we love to buy products with the name smart.
No matter where you go these days, you can’t avoid smart products.  Smart phones and smart cards all end up being labeled as “smart technology”.
The question I often ask myself is: What does “smart” even mean?
According to dictionary.com, the definition that I feel applies to technology would be “equipped with, using or containing electronic control devices, as computer system micrprocessors, or missiles.”  Wait, does that say missiles?  I just got an idea for a new product…
The question then becomes, with everyone calling their products “smart”, how do you differentiate yourself?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Prove it
Don’t make “smart” simply a word that you use to describe your product.  Make the effort to tell, and more importantly show your prospects why your product is indeed smart.
2) Use another word
Is there another word that you can use to differentiate yourself? If every product in your category is using the same terminology then see if there is an alternative like “intelligent” that may work for you.  Just keep in mind that you should be doing keyword research to confirm if you can get any traffic on that keyword or phrase.
3)  Call them out
I don’t think enough brands take the time to directly address their competition.  Instead, they prefer to pretend that they have no competition.  Take the time to tell your prospects why your technology is smarter than the rest.  Even if your competitors are giants, there’s nothing wrong in differentiating yourselves and practising your 30 second elevator speech from day 1.
4) Make your product smarter
Is your product really that smart?  If the answer is “no”, then think about ways you can innovate in order to make your product smarter than the rest.  Look at what your customers want and work backwards.  Figure out the conversation that’s dominating the interests of your target audience.  Go on Facebook and Twitter and talk to people whom you’d like to see as future customers.  Ask them what would get them to pick your product over others.
It seems that many of today’s best brands are trying to zig when the competition zags.  It is important to realize that certain words and ways of describing products become popular enough that they no longer help differentiate your brand.
It is important to stop and think about what you can do when you run into this situation.  Be smart about it.
About me: I am iWatchLife’s Director of eCommerce and have been active in social media since 1995, when I first started to participate in email newsletters.
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