How to Capture the Potential Broadband Consumer Sitting on the Fence: Here's a Hint - It's Not Just Price
While the number of broadband households continues to grow rapidly every day, many cable companies seek the magic words to turn "on-the-fencers"-and even those who haven't considered high-speed Internet yet-into real customers.
The question is: How do I nudge the consumer "on the fence" in my direction?
The key is developing an online marketing playbook that respects the standard lifecycle of a new product's three promotional stages. First and foremost, the product's introduction allows for the classic addressing of its benefits. After consumers come to understand those benefits, price wars are typically used to grab attention. And finally, when price inevitably becomes less of a factor, marketers turn to special promotions.
Cable companies primarily focusing on price-promotion marketing alone will miss valuable opportunities to market the benefits of a switch and ultimately earn more market share. The winner in this long-term game has patience, strategy, and a firm understanding for three innovative and successful tactics to market this new service via the growing online sales channel. Those being:
1. Be where consumers are. According to the Yankee Group, 23 percent of households in the United States had signed on for a broadband plan by the end of 2003, a trend that will only continue to escalate as Americans sign up due to falling prices and more options. One of the top groups to switch from dial-up to high-speed Internet services in the near term will be the average American household, or 40-to 50-year-olds with mid-range incomes who live in suburbia or small towns. This group more than likely uses an AOL account and, until now, dial-up has been sufficient for Web surfing needs.
Marketers in the online channel should ask themselves: "If I am a member of this group, with a high-potential for conversion whether I am searching for broadband service or not, what Web sites am I on?"
Consumers aren't on the most intuitive ones, such as the cable and DSL providers' sites. Rather, potential customers are on sites that directly appeal to a need for daily news and weather. Reasons for this group to use the Internet may vary, but one thing is certain: They are task-oriented. They go online to do research and get things done. It is an election year, for example, which means polls and political updates change hourly. This group will be increasingly accessing news sites, such as CNN.com and MSNBC.com.
If this audience receives a meaningful message from a potential high-speed Internet provider while surfing, one that fits concerns and is found on a trusted Web site, they are in.
Get into the mind of the potential customer, where they go and what they think; build relationships with those media outlets; provide a message that alters behavior.
2. Extol the benefits, then price. The majority of dial-up users need significant reason to sign up for broadband services. A switch must prove beneficial to their personal lives and wallets.
How will a switch improve my quality of life? How will it save me money and valuable time? Will it deliver access to a greater number of services?
As more information and services are offered, and potential consumers find more incentives to go online (i.e. streaming music and video, live chat, etc.), they'll want a faster connection speed.
Your message must stress reliability. Demonstrate you will deliver personal e-mail, favorite Web sites, and shopping experiences on a more powerful and cost-effective level than before.
A 30-day guarantee is a bonus. Consumers are reluctant to switch if they can't convert back to dial-up easily.
3. Offer a juicy incentive. Give me an additional product or service to sign up for your broadband service, and I am no longer on the fence. I am your customer.
Surprisingly, incentive-based marketing partnerships and programs are a somewhat novel approach to cable companies selling broadband, but it makes sense. The incentive doesn't necessarily have to be a cable-focused product, but can be anything that speaks to this target market. For example, early-adopters -- educated and affluent - have shown that they tend to purchase more commercial goods, travel and entertainment packages online, and are likely to make broadband research and sales online as well.
The tried and true marketing lifecycle model teaches us that promotions work, but only when used as an effective supplement to marketing the benefits of a new product. Cable companies investing in incentives now are experiencing a significant increase in new customer acquisition.