Sales and marketing: the best defense against video competition.

Author:Gerski, Bill
 
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when a telco decides to offer an IPTV service, the management often concentrates on the quality of the network and the physical plant. This focus is well placed. A competitive service must deliver what it claims it will. But ensuring the quality of your network is only part of the story. Few managers devote as much time to planning how to market and sell their IPTV service as they do in working out the technical aspects of it. But they should.

Preparing your long-term sales and marketing strategy is as important as knowing your network is sound. Why? First, unless you've sold video in the past, IPTV is a whole new ballgame--and I don't mean because it gives you part of a triple play. If you thought consumers were price- and feature-conscious about their phone service, get ready for video. Second, with the variety of options available in most markets, you will need to spend time understanding what makes your video service stand a part from the rest.

Developing a sales and marketing strategy will help you understand your marketplace, your competition and where your service fits within that marketplace. With a strong plan, you will have the vision to guide where to take your service in its first year--and in five years (or more). Consider the following when writing your sales and marketing plan.

KNOW YOUR MARKET

Who are your customers? Knowing your target audience means more than knowing where you plan to offer service. How old are they? What do they like to watch? What video services do they subscribe to? What else do they like to do? Answers to these questions can help you determine what channels to promote and what additional features to offer, along with where to launch your IPTV service. Some members of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), after surveying their markets, discover that offering local content would differentiate them from their competition. They make locally originated content a priority.

KNOW YOUR COMPETITION

Sizing up the competition, along with understanding what your consumers want, will help you position your service. Analyze the channels, packages and pricing of your biggest competitors. Find out what tactics they use to lure consumers to switch to their service. Head-to-head competition tends to lead to price wars--be ready to offer "better," "different," or "more" than your competitors. Consumers are price and feature sensitive--and it's sometimes hard to know what motivates a consumer. Again...

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