Mine's Bigger Than Yours!
In an interesting piece entitled “Best Cellphone Company? All of Them, to Hear Them Say It” in yesterday’s New York Times, Ken Belson drew attention to the similarity of cell-phone marketing in the United States.
It seems that unlike european touchy-feely advertising, the companies are all reacting to their maturing marketplace by trying to compete on the basis of their network quality. Not only are other attributes like data speed, 3G services and customer service all available sources of potential differentiation, but the real battle ground of the future, as is pointed out later in the piece, will focus on the fact that younger consumers are far more concerned with the hip-ness of the handsets available on your network rather than the technology behind it.
This stimulates a number of thoughts. It’s another indication that technologists (despite their rightful derision of marketers) often get far too hooked up in the marvelous geekdom of their product. It also raises the issue of the importance of consistency of voice in positioning. Both are issues to which I want to return, but for now I’ll focus on the fact that marketing messages must reflect what their customers want from their product and manage those expectations so they are not disappointed by the reality of their experience.
It strikes me that even if all the US phone networks are wonderful it would, based on my phone usage, be very hard for me to know if that were true. If my call drops off or I can’t get a signal, do I really know that the same thing wouldn’t have happened if I were signed up to a competitor network? Do I even know that it’s a network issue?
Of course not - I don’t care about networks. I care about making my calls, how much they cost and how cool I look. If I’m buying a commodity product or service, I want marketing that shows that you know what my gripes are likely to be and that you are addressing them. I want you enhancing your usability and reducing your negatives.
By way of illustration and since I slammed some financial advertising yesterday, I’ll end with a link to some brilliant UK financial advertising. A company that makes you smile, shows they know your mind-set and gives themselves a great chance of proving to a prospect that they actually practice what they preach here.