In today’s telecom industry in the US, we have a duopoly of ILEC and Cable.
The former RBOC’s of AT&T and Verizon are in the top 2 of the following categories: Internet backbones, cellular networks (in subscriber numbers), broadband subscriber counts, voice lines, access line counts, and telco revenue.
The Top 5 cablecos – Comcast, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Time-Warner Cable – have the installed base of consumers on TV and are having an easier time converting their base to broadband and voice services than ILEC’s are having adding TV subscribers. Cable also has an extensive network that hits many small businesses (not SMB, but actual small businesses that have less than 99 employees) and many SOHO with a fatter pipe than telco.
Cable has a cellular partnership called Pivot with Sprint. Pivot has also acquired AWS spectrum to deploy its own.
TV, broadband, voice and cellular are flat markets in 2008. It is a Red Ocean of hyper-competition. It is costly in terms of customer acquisition and customer retention. It is mainly take-away business, meaning that someone has to lose a customer for another carrier to gain one. Hence, the reason for the price war of $100 triple-plays and $100 all-you-can-eat cellular plans.
How do you compete in this market? For one thing, everyone is chasing the Fortune 1000. Here’s the kick: there are only 1000 customers. The sharks almost out number the purchasing agents in that pool. CLEC’s, ILECs, IXC’s, and Cablecos are all chasing the Fortune 1000 and big government contracts. This leaves the Fortune 5 Million (as Seth Godin calls them) open for the other providers.
SOHO and consumers likely order by phone or online. Cold calling to this market is expensive and difficult because of the Do-Not-Call laws (and that SOHO may be a residential line technically). Print, radio and TV advertising is also an expensive venture, especially if you are competing against an ILEC ad budget.
What can you do? How do you get your message out?
Here are some of the steps we take with our customers:
- Develop a Unique Value Proposition.
- Have a Vision that is crystal clear that everyone can comprehend (and own). (BHAG, anyone?)
- Use Guerrilla Marketing tactics to create a buzz.
- Billboards and direct mail can work with the right message and in combination with a sales effort.
- Radio and traditional advertising become about Branding and name recognition – not a sales effort.
- Be Fanatical about Customer Care.
- The Personal Touch.
- A Purple Cow Experience for the Customer.
- Use a Referral System coupled with video testimonial.
- Community involvement
- Use Niche marketing
- Make Strategic Partnerships to provide additional value added service.
- Gather Customer Interaction and feedback.
- Utilize Newsletter and other customer communications.
These are then ways to market telecom. If your sales and marketing effort can use a lift, please call Peter the Marketing Idea Guy at 813.963.5884.
He has many satisfied customers. Don’t you want to be one too?