The Perception Of Value

July 11, 2016By Carrie Huckeby
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I’m always reading articles, blogs and books about marketing. I can normally make a connection between what I’m reading and a marketing experience. After all, I’ve been in rural telecom for 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of stuff. An article I read recently described marketing as “the exchange of a product or service for value.” Meaning, we build a case that life is better when the consumer buys our stuff.

Nothing that I haven’t heard before. Sounds easy enough for a marketer, right?

The connection between the reading and real life happened pretty fast. The results were arriving from our recent customer survey (we try to do an in depth questionnaire every 2 to 3 years):

  • High marks for corporate citizenship. Great!
  • High marks for customer service. Even better!
  • Low to medium marks for value compared to price. Whoa … say what? That can’t be right!

Out of more than 500 replies, a few responses came in with low to medium range marks when comparing value with price point. I admit, I was a bit surprised. The voice in my head went down the list of things that I, the marketer, had used to build a case about value.

For example:

  • Our company finished a 100% fiber-to-the-home network in less than five years!
  • We covered over 2,200 miles of rural backroads and hollers to connect every member on fiber. And it’s buried!
  • Our company ate, drank and dreamed about fiber for five years.
  • Gigabit speeds are available! Who needs Google?
  • Communities outside our boundaries are signing petitions and screaming for reliable and fast internet service. They want what our members have.
  • Testimonials from customers say they are lost without their connection to the world.

“But,” I questioned myself, “are these points conveying value to a wide audience?”

After sulking a few days and soaking it all in, I realize my challenges are:

  • I must accept I haven’t connected with everyone with the value message. One size does not fit all.
  • Do I know the message? Do I truly understand what the customer thinks is valuable or have I assumed (we know what that means)?
  • How do I connect value with the cost (I know my life would be more difficult without a reliable broadband connection)? I realize the company’s price point and the consumer’s price point are not always aligned.
  • I understand the consumer is adding users and multiple devices on lower speed packages. They are experiencing slower downloads — life is not better with buffering. They aren’t getting the full fiber user experience at 5 Mbps, or if their microwave is sitting between their tablet and the wireless router.
  • I know there is great benefit and value in a fiber-to-the-home connection, no data caps and local tech support. These things do make life better.

With these objectives in mind, I never met a challenge I didn’t want to fix. Even better when I’m not sure of the exact direction. I love marketing even when I’m not getting it 100% right. I also love learning, so I’m off to find something to read about connecting value, price and quality of life. Stay tuned…

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