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5 Marketing Moves That Should Sound the Alarm

5 Marketing Moves That Should Sound the Alarm

Consider these telecom geomarketing no-nos!

You probably spend a lot of time reading about marketing best practices, but after awhile the advice starts to blur together. What you need is the equivalent of an alarm that prevents you from doing any marketing moves that are hazardous to your organization’s health. By avoiding these multichannel marketing mistakes, you save time, money and a lot of frustration.

Ignoring Your Audience

Your marketing needs to speak to your target audience if you want them to pay attention to your messaging. Using images of people that don’t match their demographic, talking down to them or assuming they know what you know can quickly lose their interest. Stock images are great, but let’s face it, not every family is happy, blonde and in a spotless house. Review your imagery with a critical eye. Will it be relatable to the people viewing it?

Blindly Spending

You probably don’t have an endless marketing budget. Determine what an effective campaign looks like and regularly review your efforts to adjust as needed. Track key performance indicators and test different combinations of audience targeting. If the campaign fails, you have a lot of great data points on what to avoid in the future. The ones that succeed end up getting analyzed to determine why it worked so well. You end up fine-tuning your marketing campaign and making the most of your budget.

In a CrowdFiber campaign, these goals may include the overall number of backers or subscribers acquired. Or it may be reaching a zone goal by a certain date to drive construction. You may be most focused on increasing average revenue per user (ARPU). Identify these goals in advance, so that your budget can be analyzed for its effectiveness.

Wacked-Out Resolution

Your images can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to its size. It might look great on your website, but when a promotional image goes out it could be cut off or otherwise distorted. For print, aim for 300 dpi or greater using a file type that carries the most data like .ai, .eps, or .pdf. On web and social channels, be mindful of transparency against a background. A .png is best for these images. Don’t let your message get lost. Make sure your marketing material is appropriate for each of your channels. A free tool that helps you get it right is Canva.com.

Going Nuts with Speeds and Fees

Your product might be the best in its category, making it the logical choice for your audience. However, the buyer’s journey doesn’t rely solely on the analytical side of the brain. You also need to appeal to the emotions of the buyer and make that strong connection. For example, you can talk about the ways your customers can spend more time with their family, thanks to the time-saving benefits of your products, rather than just speeds and fees. Avoid using too much “industry speak”.  Megabits, Gigabits, 4G, Wifi, Hotspot, IP, Max, Extra… these terms can get easily mixed up by customers, so make your telecom product names simple and straightforward. Use the same conventions to describe each product and provide an example of who the product is a good fit for so that customers can choose by their use case, not just the specs.

*Bonus points if you describe who the product is NOT good for. Help your customer know what won’t work for them, so that they are led to a choice that they will bring satisfaction. 

Now that you know to avoid these marketing mistakes, what are your next steps? Regular, relevant content is king for driving real engagement with your audience. Post updates, link to educational articles, coordinate your email and direct mail with your social campaigns.   You create value and an ongoing relationship with potential customers, long after they make a purchase decision. This strategy increases conversion and decreases churn, allowing you to build a foundation for long-term business growth.

Learn from Your Customers – Video

One of the most enjoyable parts of building and selling any product in the marketplace is seeing your customers use it and learning from their insights and creativity.  Some of the videos they have produced describe their campaigns, CrowdFiber, and the challenges of constructing Fiber to the Home are better than what we could do ourselves.  Take a look at couple of our customers’ work:

This video describes a FTTH CrowdFiber campaign in Walla Walla, Washington by PocketiNet.

This video describes the CrowdFiber process for FTTH from Midwest Energy in Southeast Michigan.

This video by Midwest Energy helps consumers understand the process of fiber construction and shows some of the data CrowdFiber collects.

Have one you’d like to feature? Please send it to us.

Should You Collect Deposits?

One of the features we included from the very beginning of CrowdFiber three years ago is the capability to collect deposits.  Modeled on crowdfunding and the concepts Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others use, CrowdFiber lets our customers collect conditional deposits.

What is a conditional deposit?  The way we define a conditional deposit is one that is committed only upon certain criteria being met.  In the case of CrowdFiber, this criterion has always been a campaign goal so far such as X number of subscribers in a zone or Y dollars committed in service purchases for a commercial building location.

Why would a service provider want to collect a deposit, especially if they haven’t yet built fiber to the home in that zone yet?  Deposits help providers know their customers have a strong interest in purchasing services.  If a consumer says yes to gigabit fiber to the home service on a website, that is one thing.  If he or she puts even a $5 commitment behind that vote, that is another.  Their commitment is more real.wiredwestchecks

What is the downside?  Naturally, fewer people will complete the sign up process.  It is one more hassle to have to enter a credit card or send a check, but so far the campaigns that require deposits still meet their goals.  The most impressive one for us is WiredWest in western Massachusetts.  The project spans about a third of the state and has collected over $350,000 in conditional deposits from over 7,000 residents with most of the 31 towns taking part in the campaign getting at least a 40% pre-registration take rate.  Impressive is definitely the word.  The downside in their case is the additional administrative burden of managing payments, but our software does most of that work for them.  Unless they get checks.  Take a look at the snapshot of some of the checks WiredWest received.  That takes some time.

Why do some of our campaigns not collect deposits? Some providers just want to gauge interest. They are confident that if the interest is there, the business will come. Some providers aren’t ready to have that level of commitment to the campaign. They want to explore. And many just want to avoid the complexity of collecting deposits.

Either way, it is great to see so many providers using CrowdFiber to bring advanced FTTH to people around the world.

Announcing CrowdFiber Neighbors

neighborsWe are excited to announce CrowdFiber Neighbors today – an add-on for CrowdFiber SP Edition.

With traditional approaches to crowdsourcing and demand aggregation, social media plays a critical role. Consumers spread the word about a new product or service using their social networks, and this helps aggregate demand for the provider’s product.

However, when ISPs try to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social tools to aggregate demand for high-speed internet services, TV and phone, these tools break down. The challenge is one of geography. This is especially true when using the build-to-demand approach pioneered by Google.

Let’s say there’s a gigabit fiber campaign in my neighborhood. After backing the campaign, I send out tweets to my Twitter followers, and posts for my Facebook friends – but this isn’t a very effective way to recruit others to join the campaign — since the vast majority of my friends and followers don’t actually live in my neighborhood or town.

CrowdFiber Neighbors is a breakthrough in broadband demand aggregation for ISPs. It introduces consumer-directed, geographically-targeted direct mail to spread the word about CrowdFiber campaigns and zones – at a neighborhood level. That’s right, direct mail! We’re partying like its 1999.

So, how does this work?

When a user backs a CrowdFiber campaign, they are presented with a list of their nearby neighbors, and they can select one or more to have a postcard mailed to. At no cost to the backer, a customized postcard is printed and mailed to the neighbors they select, along with an invitation to join the campaign. These postcards are printed and mailed at no cost to backers.

The response rate for those who receive the postcard is dramatically higher, since the postcard is being sent FROM a neighbor – not from the ISP. And ISPs gain valuable insight into precisely which consumers in their market are the most influential, helping them to tailor promotions and incentives.


Activation pricing for CrowdFiber Neighbors varies based on the number and density of zones, but a starter plan is just $99/month. ISPs can have a campaign launched in a matter of days. They can set a maximum number of postcards to be mailed campaign-wide each month, as well as establish quotas for the number of postcards that can be sent and received on a per-user basis. This provides ISPs with a fast-to-market, low-cost way to experiment with the power of crowdsourced demand aggregation.

Beta Customer

We are proud to launch CrowdFiber Neighbors today in partnership with PocketiNet in Walla Walla, Washington. Click here to visit their active CrowdFiber campaign.

For more information about CrowdFiber SP Edition and CrowdFiber Neighbors, click here. Contact us to find out how we can help you build your market before you build your network.




CrowdFiber Service Provider Edition Announced

It has been some time since we last blogged here, but the silence is a result of much activity on the consulting side of the house.

When we first launched CrowdFiber, we imagined community groups rallying together and using that online demand to engage service providers. Perhaps internet service providers could even compete for their business in our online marketplace. We have discovered that most communities, with the exception of a few standouts like the leaders in Baltimore, lack the leadership or ability to undertake an effort like this – at least for now.  We are passionate about connecting more people, and recognized a need to pivot our focus in order to do just that.

In our consulting relationships, we found that the organizations and Internet service providers we worked with were eager to adopt a build-to-demand model. More than ever, ISPs needed new tools to engage and aggregate consumers ahead of time to justify targeted investments. They needed those tools to be easy to deploy, manage, and integrate with their internal billing, GIS, or other customer service tools.  They did not want to compete in an online marketplace, but instead create a unique message, particular to their place, people, and history.

We have spent the last year developing and implementing a solution: CrowdFiber SP Edition is a white-labeled, service provider software-as-a-service portal, providing the same campaign, zone, product, and people management tools of the original platform, with many added features particular to ISP needs.

With CrowdFiber SP Edition, consumers engage with a campaign run by a local internet service provider and powered by our platform.  The SaaS tool provides the service provider with mechanisms to pre-sell subscriptions and collect payments (if desired), measure demand, prioritize where and when they build networks, and justify the investments they are making.

It’s exciting to see how well this new model is working. From Virginia to MassachusettsMichigan to California, our customers are building their businesses and bringing broadband services to areas that need it. We are especially delighted to be supporting electric co-ops choosing to provide fiber-to-the-home in rural America.


Beta customers have used CrowdFiber™ SP Edition to aggregate more than $30M in lifetime consumer value. And they are using these commitments to justify more than $300M in capital investment.

We can’t wait to see what the next year will hold as we partner with more service providers to pursue our mission to connect as many people as possible.

Are you interested in learning more? Let’s meet up, or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or directly.

Gigabit Communities: Red Tape and Red Carpet

In February 2010, the Mayor of Duluth, MN jumped into the icy waters of Lake Superior. A month later, the Mayor of Sarasota, FL got into a tank full of sharks. That same month, the city of Topeka, KS changed its name. What these and many other stunts had in common was that they were designed to convince Google that their town was the best place to build its first Gigabit fiber network. More than 1,100 cities competed in this beauty contest. The single, lucky winner was Kansas City.

About five years earlier, conditions in the market were very different. I was sitting in a conference room in San Francisco. I was representing the City of San Francisco in negotiations with Google and Earthlink to construct a citywide Wi-Fi network. That project failed, at least in part due to a clash between the red tape served up by the city and the red carpet expected by the providers. The parties got frustrated or bored and walked away.

The market seems to have now concluded that Google’s fiber model is the way of the future. Create scarcity by holding a contest for cities to compete to be the first location for a new breakthrough service. Determine where and when to make service available by getting neighborhoods to compete by aggregating their demand. Rinse and repeat, right? Maybe not. I think many questions remain about whether this model can scale beyond an experiment.

Using these strategies, Google did find a way to get local governments to reconsider and, maybe, streamline their red tape — rights of way, utility pole attachments, and universal service requirements. And they cleared up a central point of confusion from the experiment with San Francisco years earlier — who is the buyer and who is the seller. And other providers are now following their lead. CSpire, a mobile operator in Mississippi, recently convinced 33 towns to compete to “Get Fiber First.” Nine of the 33 towns who competed were chosen.

All of these developments suggest that Google’s model may be repeatable. By all accounts, the folks in Kansas City, and soon Austin and Provo are thrilled with the progress in their towns. And I am sure the nine towns in Mississippi are happy about CSpire’s selection. But where does this leave the 24 towns that weren’t chosen by CSpire? And what about the 1,100 towns who danced for Google and didn’t “win”? At the risk of making the perfect the enemy of the good here, I will argue that this is where the challenge lies.

What do the hundreds, thousands of communities who recognize the importance of being part of the Gigabit movement do now? I might argue that, a dangerous precedent was set by the Google Fiber RFP and CSpire contests. Are there communities now sitting idle and waiting for another ISP to surface — for another RFI or RFP to come out — dreaming up new stunts to attract the attention of these knights in shining armor? I admit, this seems like the worst, most cynical view of where things could stand. Many communities are making progress in private partnerships, planning community networks, building networks with municipal and cooperative electric partners, pursuing grant and other sources of funding. But many also appear to be lying dormant.

What seems most important is that communities play a proactive role in driving progress in this area. Communities should think about their role at the table. The actor Jude Law was quoted once to say “I’m only wanted by directors for the image I give off, and it makes me angry. I always wanted to be an actor and not a beauty pageant winner.” That’s the attitude that will move communities forward.