Gone are the days when “telecommunications” meant the same thing to the buying public as “telephone, fax machine, and directory services.” Digital technology, the internet, and the merging of various data and content streams have added entirely new dimensions to the telecoms landscape. Providers these days are just as likely to be offering office management, apps, and cable television services, as they are to be supplying phones and technical support.
“One-stop shops” and multi-disciplinary service provision are keys to success in today’s marketplace. And with a ton of options available from a wide selection of providers, it’s a major challenge for telecoms companies to distinguish themselves from the competition.
Now more than ever, a sustained and effective marketing strategy – or the lack of one – could make or break your enterprise. It doesn’t have to be rocket science, but there are several aspects to consider when developing one.
More Ways to Connect
Just as the telecoms industry itself has expanded to include products and services far beyond the traditional mix, so too has the number of ways for you to engage and interact with your customer base. Consumer expectations have aligned with this trend, with potential buyers – from both the public and within the commercial sector – now fully accustomed to having telecoms brands reach out to them through multiple channels.
Physical outlets and distributorships, mobile catalogues, dedicated websites, electronic marketplaces, eCommerce portals – these are just the frontline points of presence, where products and payments change hands. Add blogs, video advertising, a host of content marketing channels and social media into the mix, and you have available a multitude of touch points through which you can connect with your target audience.
The key however, is to deliver a consistent brand message across your various channels.
Create a compelling story to describe your brand, your products and services, and the customer experience. This narrative should extend from your website and blog, to the emails and newsletters that you send, through your posts and videos on social media, to the apps and services that you package up for mobile users, and into the sales process.
Rather than viewing social media as simply an extension of your help and technical support lines, reclaim ownership of your presence on these platforms. Use social media as a forum to engage directly with your customers and gain a reputation for helpfulness and care – all the while increasing awareness of your brand.
Use your touch points as an opportunity to give something back to the consumer. This may extend from using your points of presence to communicate important and relevant information about the telecoms industry, to providing news on trends, product launches, and upcoming events. And don’t neglect the opportunity to invite your customers to attend special events, or contribute their thoughts and opinions.
Keep Them Satisfied
For any number of reasons, the telecoms industry can occasionally suffer from a poor public image. Gripes about poor service, unclear billing procedures, hidden surcharges, and nuisance SMS or telemarketing have long been a standard issue for telecoms companies. Partnerships with cable and internet service providers have only added to the list of complaints – to the extent Ofcom has recently announced its intention to step in and monitor ISP service quality and implement mandatory compensation for failures.
Rather than reopening old wounds by focusing on the hard sell, a telecoms marketing strategy for the here and now needs to take on board the customer’s perspective, and look for new ways to connect.
A classic example of this can be found when Virgin Mobile began the campaign to launch their VirginMobileFeed service.
(Image source: buzzfeed.com)
Virgin partnered with the popular BuzzFeed website to produce an entertainment hub featuring viral content, contemporary music, and links to Virgin’s social media presence. Knowing their millennial demographic loves sharing viral stories on social media, Virgin saw an opportunity to encourage them to engage with the brand in a mutually beneficial fashion.
The existing subscribers in this age bracket expressed deep satisfaction, and new visitors were attracted to the brand. Therefore – while VirginMobileFeed is ostensibly a free service – in the long run, it improved both business and reputation for the provider.
Plan and Optimise Your Content
While Virgin may have had success partnering with BuzzFeed, endeavours such as this will not be practical or possible for everyone. The ruling alternative is content marketing – providing information, advice, entertainment and inspiration which is of direct relevance to your target audience.
The key is not to pitch your business directly, but rather, present yourself as a trusted authority, knowledge base, and thought leader for the telecoms industry in the form of blog posts, webinars, podcasts, tutorials, or whichever format is most appropriate to the message you’re trying to communicate.
As part of your multi-channel, multiple touch point philosophy, the content you distribute needs to be consistent across all platforms. 44% of Business to Business (B2B) marketers have a documented content strategy, employing an average of 13 different content marketing tactics, and using around six social media platforms for distribution.
(Image source: orange.com)
In the UK, Orange have built a unified content hub that provides entertainment, news and sports, and lifestyle coverage using video, music, images, games, and movie trailers – all interspersed with their own original content.
Orange Pop has resulted in a significant increase in engagement with the brand, as well as a content marketing strategy which successfully fuses traditional news and information streams with entertainment – elegantly illustrating the benefits of a robust content strategy.
Anticipate Customer Need
One of the best ways telecoms companies can use marketing to keep their customers satisfied is to anticipate issues before they arise. With so much dissatisfaction in the industry, any strategy which can potentially reduce the need for customers to call in with a problem is likely to be of benefit to all parties involved.
For example, Verizon Wireless sends a series of targeted messages to customers who have just purchased a new device, describing short-cuts and set-up tips that they might otherwise miss if they just look at the User Guide. There’s no direct promotion, but tackling common issues before they are discovered by the customer reduces the chance of them needing assistance – increasing their satisfaction, and freeing up customer service representatives to help with more serious problems.
Know Your Customers
Being in tune with you customers will help facilitate these agile strategies. By setting up distinct buyer personas for each of your target markets – and following those buyers through all stages of a hypothetical journey with your brand – it’s easier to know when and how to intervene with relevant advice, information, and resources.
Market intelligence and information on your customers can also contribute to your corporate planning, and the improvement of your business practices. With the new breed of user-friendly business analytics tools and dashboards, you don’t have to be a qualified statistician to analyse and extract usable insights from all the feedback, transactions, sales and market information that you accumulate in response to your campaigns.
Remember You’re Not Alone
With the telecoms market expanding to include a range of related services and products, it’s now rare to find a single organisation which can stand on its own, and still successfully deliver all the items in its catalogue. More and more telecoms customers are looking to get as many services on a single plan as possible.
Partnerships must be formed and nurtured with suppliers, contractors, and providers to ensure the provision of support services, cloud-based infrastructure and resources, and products or services outside of your core range or area of expertise.
Therefore, your marketing strategy must include the supply chain partners, B2B alliances, and other external players which are able to increase the selection of goods and services that you have to offer.
For your marketing strategy to be something other than just a set of optimistic ideas, there are some systematic steps to take to ensure that there are concrete and measurable achievements to it.
- Set Objectives: Establish the targets you want to hit – and make them realistic.
- Do A SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The first two are qualities you and your company possess, while Opportunities and Threats can be presented by the market, your consumer base, and the world at large.
- Understand Your Consumers: Customer personas and “The Buyers Journey”, coupled with market intelligence, trends, and changing circumstances.
- The 4 Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotions. These will form the backbone of your marketing strategy.
- Measure Your Performance: Quantifiable metrics, measurable criteria, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which may be monitored in response to the feedback and monetary gains (or losses) that your marketing strategy generates. And, perhaps most importantly, remain flexible and open to change in response.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Marketing and promotion are all well and good. But if you overlook the core infrastructure, products, and services you’re offering, nobody’s going to take you seriously – or want to do business with you.
This means making sure that your inventory is always stocked, your network infrastructure is well maintained and monitored, and that the packages you’re promoting are fully supported by your own resources, and those of your supply chain partners.
A Professional Solution
There’s a lot involved with a robust and reliable telecoms marketing strategy. If you need advice and assistance on planning and implementing yours, the experienced professionals markITwrite have everything you need.
Please get in touch today.