The telecom industry has become extremely competitive. This trait can be attributed to a lot of factors ranging from more players in the market, environment, local and newer handset-makers, various innovations coming in to play to changes in consumer preferences. Here are seven insights based on my experience and that of the industry in general:
Know your brand: The telecom industry is undergoing a metamorphosis and we operate in a cut-throat environment. At times, brands try to be too many things, confusing the consumer. It is important to identify your brand’s ‘personality’ and ensure that every communication message reiterates that. Position your brand, so that your consumers know who you are and can differentiate you from the competition. Knowing your brand does not only entail what imagery you want to project but also helps create the products we want to offer and to whom.
Find your niche/ target: Every product or service needs to find a specific target audience that it can focus on to control a bigger and better market share. Gone are the days when a mobile phone was a calls-only device. With the advent of technology, we have very fast reached the era of convergence along with increased disposable incomes of the youth; marketers are focusing more on youth these days. Especially in the telecom sector, this has been a very recent but innovative trend.
Strengthening service/ offer personalised solutions: Customers today are coming up with a very strong understanding of all that they can avail from a service-provider. In such a market scenario, it is mandatory for each of us to ensure good service. We are the first operator to launch a service guarantee and network challenge in the industry. Operators compete for tariffs. However, it is the satisfaction with service that keeps customers bound to a service-provider.
Share with the consumer: The consumer is well-read and knows what he or she requires. It is very pertinent for every service-provider to put every rule upfront to the consumer. Telecom operators have made a conscious effort to ensure that tariff-related details as well as other service offerings are mentioned upfront to the consumer.
We are in a market that has realised the urgent need for transparency the hard way. It works in favour of the service-provider if a customer feels empowered to make his or her choice. Self-driven means of activating or de-activating a service works very well.
Education/ awareness: There is a need to educate consumers about every new product or service. We noticed it during introduction of Mobile Number Portability. While consumers needed to be told what the option entailed, people took time to understand the nuances.
Ensure variety in product portfolio: While it is one thing to focus on a specific target audience, one must always keep options to suit all. The end result every marketer expects to achieve is profits. Mobile operators must and are offering products suited to everyone – otherwise you may lose a section of your prospective customers.
Times are changing, so should communication: We have seen a tremendous change in the way people see marketers and the way consumers need services to be delivered to them. One must catch consumer attention first and then sell the product. In this, communication plays a critical role. Companies today realise the relevance of communicating with everyone – not only business stake-holders or its own customers, but people in general. It is impossible to communicate the same message to every section of your audience, hence, the media mix or the modes of communication play an important role.
Non-traditional modes of communication are playing an important role these days. More and more marketers are finding it relevant to be visible during festivals to catch attention – one can see a lot of corporates having their branding at Ganapati and Durga Puja pandals. Digital media cannot be ignored at all, especially if you are a mobile operator. One can also get a lot of communication out through outdoor as well as personalised mailers along with traditional advertising.
One must at all times be relevant and aspirational to the audience.
(Arif Ali is Head of Brand & Communications at Loop Mobile India Ltd.)