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Telecommunications Marketing: Then and Now

My intent is to examine the history of telecommunications marketing in a blog series so we telecom marketers can all have an appreciation of the jobs we have today, and the products and marketing solutions in the fast paced environment we find ourselves. From the day I started in 1978 until today, one thing is certain and that is change.

Cable started as a technical product that solved a problem for people in places that could not get what was, at that time, a fairly new technology. You might have heard of it, ‘television.’

The cable industry solved a need.

Today those needs are rarely present with products that telecommunications companies market. So, what started as a technical-needs-based product became an everyday consumer product, and a story had to be told in an effective and compelling manner which would help new consumers choose which product fit their needs the best. This is when it got a lot more fun for marketers. But wait, telecom companies had no marketers!

Telecom began to get more competitive and a need emerged to tell the ‘how are we different?’ story in an increasingly compelling way. Competitors came in on the television side, on the phone side, and on the Internet side. All of a sudden, telecom companies had competitors emerging from every door.

In the early days of cable television we told the story through products. HBO, ESPN, and other companies like these, would help pay for the marketing!  Well our competitors started marketing with those same brand names. Cruel. Products became ubiquitous, available through all competitors. Those premium product offerings were no longer a differentiator!

The questions became: how do we effectively differentiate in a quickly emerging telecom world, how do we tell our story, what is the target market, and where is the best media to place that communication?  Those are the questions we will answer over the next few weeks. On that note, to be continued…

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  1. I think your point is excellent. The telecommunications industry has been a little slower to evolve because of programmer agreements. There is a complicated infrastructure around programming buying and funding as you can imagine. Very expensive and people all up and down the supply chain need to be paid. Movies, sports and TV. If the industry can solve this complication, then the product will evolve quickly. It is going to be exciting to view. I think we are living and learning in an exciting time!

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