More viewpoints about the adoption, or slow progress VoIP will have in Canada is coming to light, this time from the National Post of Canada.
While the stats have been beaten to death here and elsewhere, there is no faulting the reporter who clearly identified what VoIPWatch has been saying for a long time. Marketing and education about VoIP's product differentiation needs to be ratcheted up a few notches by the VoIP brands, and this applies to both USA and Canada, as well as in other countries each player will enter.
Right now brand for almost all the next gen carriers is logo, announcement and pricing driven. Not one has really stepped up and begun the yeoman like responsibility to educate the marketplace about VoIP outside of Vonage and AT&T. Vonage started with "it's available here" and "it saves you money." AT&T has followed with "we're now available here too" and has been educating the media with "we're not only here, we're better. Try us and see" using demos. They've also done a better PR job because their PR lead Gary Morganstern has been around the game 25 years (almost as long as me, but I'm likely younger as I started doing media relations at age 14 and was a reporter on radio at the same time). Anyway, Morganstern has done an incredible job of communicating the AT&T legacy into the mix, but other than a few reporters....like ME.....none have understood the importance of owning your own network, tier one peering relationships, call quality being maintained by the ATA--because all telephone adapters have not been created equal.
My first call with Morganstern revolved around "what makes CallVantage different" and we focused on the network aspects first. That's brand synergy. It wasn't until we went through the plain, even grand ma could understand language, that Morganstern went into the services offerings to me, highlighting the product differentiations between CV and others, and relating some of the pluses to what Webley, my unified messaging service of choice, has to offer, that are now available to me via CallVantage. That created an economic advantage.
Building brand begins with PR. Educating the buyers is executed by PR. Driving awareness is an advertising function, built on PR. Selling in falls to a sales team that understands how to overcome objections. The big hurdle for so many of the VoIP carriers is building brand and getting customers, and those two are a never ending circle in many ways.
Given so little salesmanship has been employed in the past few years (i.e. relationships with customers, lack of true "account executives" until business reaches a certain level, lack of local offices, etc. all these companies have a big issue establishing true relationships that are not virtual and devoid of the human touch.
If one looks at why cable television became so successful, it was the establishment of "local" storefront offices in every community they serve. If one looks at mobile phones, especially brands like Verizon and Nextel, it is their store front, company owned locations which blazed trails and built both brand and customer point of contact. But the phone companies always were faceless, over the phone business. They did it very well, because, well, that's the only way they did business, other than a few business offices where you could pay your bill or present some documentation.
With VoIP the cell carriers and the cable companies have legs up right now over the VoIP pure plays. They have the brand already established, they have the customers. They have the storefronts. And they have the billing relationships.
Cablevision, the New York City metro area cable provider already has 100,000 subscribers to its VoIP service, since October. A call, the first one made by Bob Cox, editor of The National Debate which he made to me to check out the quality of the service was as pristine as any call the two of us have ever had. He signed up for the $90.00 bundle. All three services (two of which he already had) cable, high speed internet and now voice.
That's a way to gain market share. But Cablevision, like all cable companies have several advantages over carriers like Vonage and Call Vantage. First the own their own media. They can run commericals, do bill stuffers until the cows come home and it costs them pennies, not thousands. Second, in the case of Cablevision, they are in a tight market area, so they can focus significant human effort to be out in force, we call that feet on the street marketing, with senior executives making a significant presence in the serving communities. Third, they have built in billing. But they also have one huge motivator that the telephony carriers don't have. A total hatred for satellite tv and the need to offer something different.
The cable companies are the enemy to local Regional Bells and National VoIP players. Does that give anyone ideas on how to compete? It sure does to me.