I have polled local small businesses online (have you?). Most only know VZ and TWC. No idea who the local ISP's are. People are sheople. They will shrug - or like seeing a warning light on the car - just keep driving on whatever broadband is available. Very few will seek an alternative. They go with what the neighbor tells them or a co-worker or Jim the copier/PC repair guy at the office.

You can't expect people to use your service because you were their first. Or even because you are better. Or because "it's our people, Jeffrey. We have the best people." (How would anyone know? And who believes that crap anyway?)

You have to earn your customers' loyalty every day.
You have to give them VALUE to defeat lower price.

On the MDU's do you have a website for the tenants with blogs, classifieds, photo album, video sharing, and announcements?

Do you have HOWTO's on tech gadgets like Linksys boxes, VoIP, iPods, digital cameras?

Or do you just offer internet and hope that people will use you because, darn it, I'm a nice guy and I was here first?
Or do you give it away and live on slim or no margins?

Ford was here first and now they are so far behind the pack that they almost defaulted.
Ford and GM made a couple of key mistakes:
1) They took their eye off the competition
2) They didn't take the competition seriously
3) Forgot to be remarkable
4) Forgot to be reliable
5) Lost Brand awareness
6) Lower price didn't win them market share

What does this translate for you?
Do you have a Brand?
Do you have a Value Proposition?
Do you have a Target Market? Not everyone, but a true, defined market that you can specialize in and be an expert in? How do you and your employees reply when someone says that cable/DSl is better/cheaper? Your competition keeps "improving" its brand by adding services and upgrades. People only know how bad the duopoly is during an outage or problem; People only know how good you are when there is a problem or they switch.

Back to the branding really quick.
If you advertise, is it a clear, consistent message across all mediums - radio, TV, paper, website, inserts, flyers, email?
Or is it one thing now and one thing later?
That's fine for Brand Awareness, but that doesn't drill a message into people like:
TerraNova - Key's Largo's finest Internet Provider
Clear, concise, to the point.
Now if he started advertising TerraNova Microsoft Gold Partner on week 2 and TerraNova webhosting and design on week 3 and TerraNova gets Cisco Authorized Refurbed Reseller on week 4. Your audience has no idea what you do or who you are.

Back to the competition.
VZ and BST have been playing catch-up. They used price to kill competition and gain back lost market share. They add "value" by selling backup, anti-virus, security, wlan, etc. Stuff that you were providing but not telling anyone.
It looks like they are ahead of the wave.
To counter that you need a newsletter, website and bill insert to communicate with your customers and prospects. You need to keep your current customers; get sticky; and turn them into raving fans who will evangelize your service for you.
That brings us back to the community website with blogs, et al.

The unfortunate thing is that all this is work. Daily, boring, grinding work. We are long past the day that a yellow page ad, a billboard, a radio ad is going to work. The Big Boys have to do that. Coke knows that the minute their ad buys drop, so does their market share.
You have to be more creative.
Lots of ways to do it.

Sorry for rambling so much.

Peter



Tom DeReggi wrote:


Peter,

That's where the argument hits the road.
Since BB Provider choice is so limited, you will end up with a walled garden like Prodigy.


But would that really be that bad for the ISP industry? (I don't believe I jsut said that :-) Going back to the old days where an ISP was both the content provider connection provider (ie: CompuServe and original AOL).

Wouldn't it create more demand for Internet End Users to start demanding options for more connectivity providers? Right now, I do not think we (ISPs) get the supprot from Consumers that we deserve. We've forced lower prices in the industry, we've given our lives to deliver options to consumers, but way to many of consumers are satisfied accepting the lowest cost alternative from the monopolies with little interest to support the indepent ISP in return. If their content was restricted, they would demand more provider options. Possibly even have the need to subscribe to more than one ISP provider simultaneously. And wouldn' it prevent content monopolies, if ISPs had the choice to force other content providers to have the option to serve consumers. Meaning that even if Google was the best, they wouldn't wipe out every one else, because the other content providers could find smaller ISPs to subsidize them, after they blocked Google. The truth is I think its scarry when ANY company has to large a lock on the consumers or to large a market share, wether it be a content provider or a connectivity provider. How do you force Consumers to spread out their business between multiple providers, for the over all benefit of competition in the market place?

Tom DeReggi

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