Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2018

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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MARKETING | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 You Can Build It, But Will They Come? Even when the business case for rural broadband looks compelling, you still have to sell the product. By Stephen Morris / FoothillsNet Y ou had the vision. You fought for funding. You sweated out the intricacies of network buildout. Now your capable team is diligently managing every aspect of your network's operation. But sales are not matching expectations. Why? e sales staff speculates about the impact of competition, market conditions and seasonal variances in use. Unlike the network, whose every detail can be monitored and measured, the market is mysterious. When sales fall short, how can you determine the cause and identify the right corrective actions? What is practical for a local provider in a small community? ere is hope. Although sales aren't completely under your control, you can establish processes to minimize the uncertainties. ere are proven steps to maximize sales. You can run a successful, sustainable broadband business if you communicate the message, use sound methods to survey the market, develop a marketing plan, adhere to the plan's direction even in the face of competitive pressure, measure sales, and inject accountability into the process. Broadband initiatives that struggle typically do so because of softness in executing sales and marketing plans. Revenue challenges are common for municipal broadband networks, electric membership cooperatives and small telephone companies. ese ventures may have phenomenal vision and network implementation, but the hometown advantage doesn't always translate into a thriving customer base. is can be hard to swallow for companies that have taken risks financially and professionally to provide their communities with vital broadband service. e solution is to follow through and build a healthy business with the same dedication they applied to birthing the network. Being local in a rural community means being visible. A broadband provider is a big fish in small pond, and that comes with responsibility to the community. What you do causes ripples in that pond. For example, you cannot implement policies that cause more than minimal staff turnover. ere are things a leader can do, however, to create a systematic approach using sensible methods that promote accountability. REVENUE CHALLENGES As a businessperson who ran a profitable wireless business unit within an independent telephone company for more than a decade, I experienced firsthand the difficulty of influencing sales teams to meet revenue targets. Although our engineers could produce a report on any network parameter at any given moment, the same was not true of our salespeople. All were competent at their jobs, but they engaged in little analysis of the results. When I asked sales managers about the prior month's results, a typical response would be, "Well, it's after tax season, and things get

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