BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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18 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 MARKETING Marketing Fiber Networks The best marketing eforts start before the frst fber cable is laid. By Craig Settles / Gigabit Nation T he great thing about marketing is that it works. It works even better when it starts early, which may mean as soon as groups of stakeholders, elected ofcials and ordinary citizens start advocating for a community broadband network. Traditional marketing tools include billboards, radio ads, media relations and social media. In addition, town meetings, webinars, partnerships, sponsorships and even pilot projects can help build broadband sales, political support and competitive advantages. Merriam-Webster defnes marketing as "the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service." Marketing communications (marcom), by extension, are all the actions taken to convey messages that facilitate promoting, selling or distributing a product or service. Many of these activities take place before one strand of fber is deployed. POLITICAL BATTLES AS MARKETING A good listener fnds that many people ofer clues about how to sell to them. Sometimes, however, the coolness of the technology being marketed drowns out what the prospects are saying. Paradoxically, opposition to broadband eforts sometimes works as a great marketing tool. Colorado is one of about 20 states that place restrictions on public broadband. Communities there must hold a referendum and gain majority voter approval before a local government is allowed build and operate a network. Te state law enables large incumbents to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to kill a referendum, which happened to Longmont, Colo., in 2009. "Prior to 2009, I think part of the problem was a lot of the public did not totally understand what benefts broadband was going to give them," says Tom Roiniotis, general manager of Longmont Power & Communications. "Tey did not understand the technology." So, between 2009 and 2011, when the referendum appeared on the ballot again, the city reached out and touched thousands of constituents with an intense education campaign. City council sessions and town hall meetings, fairs and concerts, barbecues, radio shows, newspaper op-ed pages – anywhere people gathered, broadband supporters reached out. Everyone who ran for public ofce, regardless of party, became educated about broadband, and all went on record that, win or lose, they supported the city's broadband eforts. Before any municipality publicly commits to bring broadband to the community, broadband supporters should execute a similar kind of market education campaign with the same intensity that Longmont did. For one thing, a community will learn quickly whether there is support for a broadband efort. It's also a good way to gather volunteers to help with the needs analysis. "I think the process itself goes a long way in really getting the community to agree with, embrace and help you move forward with the project," says Roiniotis. NEEDS ASSESSMENTS – THE FOUNDATION In an article (Show Me the Money) in the August-September 2015 issue of this magazine, I discussed how a needs assessment could begin