The company's new strategic initiative--called "Test Drive," to be introduced Monday and continued indefinitely--allows potential customers to sample Verizon Wireless voice call service for 30 days completely free. Customers will remain responsible for data services, V CAST and application downloads, however. "Test Drive" is separate from the company's Worry Free Guarantee, under which customers are allowed to terminate their wireless contracts after a 15-day trial period, although they are responsible for any charges incurred.
"From a strategic standpoint, we are giving customers an opportunity to test the network to make a good purchasing decision," explains Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman.
The move is an industry first--although one likely to be mimicked by Verizon Wireless' fierce competitors, just as every new customer service and plan or perk initiative has been over the past few months as the battle to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and maintain customer loyalty has heated up in the wake of the completion of the AT&T/BellSouth merger.
Verizon Wireless' marketing and branding campaign since 2000 has focused on its network, with its much-imitated "Can you hear me now?" ad campaign. Raney told Marketing Daily that it was inspired by the actual work of more than 90 employees who test the company's network on a regular basis.
"We want to reinforce to our customers that we consider network quality to be the most important factor in wireless service," Raney says. "Over the last few months, our competitors have tried to make the public believe all wireless networks are the same, and they're not."
"Test Drive" will be supported by two TV spots, produced by agency of record McCann-Erickson, New York, that will air nationally between Monday and April 29 as well as by in-store collateral materials. Additionally, Verizon Wireless has extended its Worry Free Guarantee to 30 days.
"This is a new paradigm in how we do business--not just a marketing campaign." Raney says. "Customers will walk into our stores and decide if our service is right for them. They will be the ultimate decision makers."