A few days ago, I was enjoying dinner with my family. It was around 6:30pm when we heard a knock at our door.
This is a strange time for a visitor, but I thought it might be a neighbor or one of my son’s friends. Instead, it was a Comcast Xfinity representative going door-to-door asking people if they would like to switch from Verizon FIOS.
To provide full disclosure, I used to be a Comcast customer, but switched years ago. My initial response was annoyance that my dinner was interrupted, but I did my best to be polite to the representative. I let her know that I wasn’t interested and that we were trying to have a family dinner.
She was very polite, but also very persistent. She apologized for interrupting us and then continued to try and convince me that I can "save money while keeping all the channels and the same bundled services you have now!!"
We went back and forth like this a few more times: me saying no and that I wanted to get back to dinner, the rep politely and gently continuing to try to convince me. Eventually, I agreed to take a mini brochure with handwritten pricing on the back.
Finally, back to dinner.
As an evangelist for inbound marketing, a student of buyer behavior and the Chief Marketing Scientist at Square 2 Marketing, I feel it’s my duty to try and provide Comcast with a different perspective on how they might go about getting past clients like me to consider switching back in a less interruptive, more client-focused way.
So here you go Comcast -- this one's on us. Enjoy!
1. Start with marketing strategy! Marketing tactics without a defined marketing strategy -- which includes target market personas, messaging and differentiation -- is a waste of time and money. What are my pains? As a FIOS customer, what issues or challenges do I have?
I think you know the high-level pain:
- My bill is too high. Well, you're right. I feel like I am paying too much. But there might be other challenges preventing me from changing that are less obvious.
- Do I have to learn a whole new system, like channel numbers, channel grids, etc?
- Am I going to need all new equipment?
- Switching feels scary -- I don’t really know what the steps are, how long it takes or what it’s going to be like for my family.
2. Make sure you have compelling messages around each of my pains. It sounds like you have the pricing piece down, as you presented me with what appeared to be a less expensive option, but it's hard to know if I was looking at apples to apples. After all, your rep said my internet would be faster and my response was, “How do you know how fast my service is now?”
3. Clearly I wasn’t ready to switch, especially during dinner. You have to start communicating with customers when and how they want to be communicated with. This means moving away from expensive and interruptive approaches, like door-to-door, and toward more permission-based marketing tactics like email marketing. For instance, if you were to send me a monthly email with information to help me feel more comfortable about my issues and hesitations above, I would be more open to considering your solution.
4. This approach means you are going to need to create more educational materials that inform and reassure, guiding me through my pains and problems I listed above.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Provide an online system that allows me to enter my current set of services and offers a direct comparison with your proposed services: presenting a monthly cost analysis and allowing me to evaluate my options apples-to-apples.
- Send me a PDF illustration of how similar the channel guides are and how easy it is for people to learn the new channels when they switch: perhaps a video reel of successfully switched customers all talking about how easy it was for their family to get comfortable with the Xfinity system.
- A whitepaper or tip guide PDF that talks about how easy it is to switch from one service to the other. You highlight your process and how your people actually come to our home to install the new equipment, get it set up, program remotes, etc. In short, you make it easy to understand how easy it is to switch.
- Email me educational information monthly. Don’t sell me by standing at my front door... especially during dinner. Help me get more comfortable with all the issues associated with switching. Yes, I want to save money, but not if it means my life is turned upside down for a few days. Switching is scary no matter how much it saves me monthly.
To wrap up, I don’t think we need to point out how cost effective these recommendations are when compared to your expensive door-to-door approach. More importantly, consider the impact on your brand: Do you really want people talking about how they were bothered at their front door by your sales person at dinner time? Or would you prefer people going on about how you helped, educated and guided them through a difficult and potentially frightening decision-making process?
If you would like to discuss how inbound marketing improves the overall performance of your marketing effort, please feel free to contact me directly.
Start Today Tip -- For the rest of our readers, consider this a case study that compares old-school, interruptive and expensive marketing tactics with the inbound marketing effort: a more cost-effective and buyer-focused, as well as trackable, testable and scalable, solution. Take a look at your business. Are you doing any cold calling? Direct mail? Even trade shows simply don’t deliver like they used to. It might be time to consider other inbound marketing options.
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