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.
- 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…