Surfing the waves of change

The message from CTAM Europe and EuroSummit 2011 to the industry is surf the waves of change: timing is the key to staying on top, writes Krisztina Homolay.

The main challenge to the cable industry is clearly competition; with fixed and mobile services converging, and the widespread takeup of wireless, telecoms providers are now offering a huge range of services including broadband, as well as mobility. In almost every European market, there is a multitude of operators providing a rich bundle of services to subscribers.Viewer habits have also changed: research has shown that today people are watching the same number of hours of TV as they were 10 years ago, but there are two clear trends that we cannot ignore: firstly that viewers are multi-tasking, simultaneously watching videos or broadcast television, communicating with friends on their  tablets, laptops or mobile phones; and secondly, people are watching streaming video on line.

Therefore the delivery of VOD or other user-controlled content has become increasingly important. As pressure on people’s time increases, the point of viewing becomes harder to match, with the result that consumers like to be able to access entertainment whenever they want. To have this layer of choice really helps cable operators keep their subscribers loyal through a time of change.

Currently cable enjoys an advantage over other platforms as, with the advent of DOCSIS 3.0, it can deliver faster broadband speeds than the competition. This opens up multiple new areas to add new value added services and technologies that can attract customers. Home Security is one such example. In terms of countries in eastern Europe there is still some way to go in terms of digitization of networks and attracting new groups of customers to the platform, so even now there are opportunities across all platform tiers.In terms of saturation in a market a cable operator has only two options; innovate with new services and/or find ways to reach new customers in new ways by communicating on different levels. The role of marketing in helping to attract subscribers into taking a higher tier of services, so bigger ARPU packages are key.  Customers will try new channels and products if they can be convinced emotionally.

CTAM Europe believes that new, innovative marketing strategies can help to grow the cable business at a time when content platforms are proliferating and consumers groupings are so varied. The key to any successful marketing strategy is to communicate & maintain your relevance to consumers. Fluffy logos are just not enough any more; consumers need a brand they can trust, a brand that has consistent and reliable values to offer. Operators and content providers need to know what their brand has to offer and stands for in the minds for the consumer. As the media landscape shifts, building a meaningful and lasting brand will be the key engine for success.  Because with all this change, it’s not just your consumers who are looking for consistency and a deeper brand promise – your employees are too.

There are four key points for marketers to remember.

1. Never forget the customer – they need to be in the centre of every aspect of marketing and receive the very best service from their provider. The customer makes the final decision, based on their experience with your company – if they aren’t happy, they go elsewhere, so make consumer experience a priority.

2. The brand delivers on its values, and must be able to create an emotional bond with the customer. Effective branding brings the subscriber good feelings about his cable company, among them sense of being trustworthy reliable, good value, and receptive to customer needs. The way the brand is sold is important, conveying a sense of quality and  dependability – something to be relied upon to deliver on its promise.

3. The channels of communication are vital – how you reach the key audiences and converting them to subscribers must be a coordinated marketing effort. Create public affairs initiatives, like sponsorship of good causes, maintaining media relations with the newspapers and magazines, using social media, all coordinated with marketing campaigns around the launch of new season’s programming or top movies.

4. The competition must never be taken for granted. Detailed research should be ongoing, providing you with up to the minute information, enabling you to deliver a unique offer, something different, that shows your company is offering a unique package for the best price.

With the EuroSummit’11  CTAM Europe offers great learning, sharing and networking opportunities for the industry. As unique as its location, this annual two-day conference affords cable marketers a rare opportunity to look beyond their comfort zones – and dive into new revenue streams, multiple platforms and innovative branding strategies for making their business stand out amidst a sea of competition. 
Focusing on social TV, connected TV, customer care, on-demand advertising and other hot topics, leading experts from across the globe will show you how to surf the complex changes affecting our industry, and how to monetize current trends to advance your company into the 21st century.

Krisztina Homolay is managing director of CTAM Europe. The CTAM EuroSummit takes place at the Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta, on September 22-23.

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