What Does an Artisan Have Over an Assembly Line?
by Aaryn Slafky
As telcos, we’re not in the manufacturing or assembly line business, so this headline might have you scratching your head. Good. Let’s hope it holds your attention. For a long time, we have been hanging our proverbial “hat” on being local. But do customers care? I think they do, if by being local, we can provide something unique that they can’t get from some national player. It’s how you communicate that specialness that matters.
I recently attended a great NTCA PRNet presentation by Ryan Estis, who talked about how there are major shifts in buying behaviors and consumer expectations. As shoppers, we are more skeptical than ever, and we spend more time finding resources that allow us to make more informed buying decisions. What that translates to, he said, is that we need to think like artisans and be proud to showcase what’s unique about what we are selling.
How does what you offer make you special? How does what you offer deliver something different than your competition? It’s the difference between a hand-carved wooden toy train and any old plastic molded toy off an assembly line. It’s the difference between a hand-painted canvas and a mass-printed poster. What is it about doing business with your company that makes you the best choice?
We need to be more authentic in telling our story, Estis shared. I think that makes us more appealing to do business with. It’s not just about what price you’re selling that Internet plan for. It’s how this product helps a grandma stay connected to her grandkids with Facetime, or how this business is able to compete on a global level, right from small town USA, because it has a Gigabit connection. Any Internet connection can do those things. What makes yours special? Maybe it is the fact that you hold classes at the senior center to teach Grandma how to use Facetime or Skype. Maybe it is the fact that you take a personal interest in setting up a network for that local business to compete globally.
So, what makes you an artisan of telecom? Or are you just an assembly line, offering one-size-fits-all? The decision to choose you or your competitor lies in how you answer these questions.