30 Sep 2014
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How I would spend Chorus’ marketing dollar

By Brendan Ritchie

It seems as if ‘Gigatown’ is the single marketing focus for Chorus, while confusion about their service options and installation process is rampant among both the consumer and Retail Service Provider (RSP) market pools.  Based on the $500,000 community project fund for the eventual winning town, the $200,000 development fund, and the cost of the staff and media effort going into this absurd campaign, it has to be taking up well over a million dollars, and that is a large amount of marketing capital that could be better spent on a number of other things.  What other things you ask?  Well, for a start…

- The consent process is poorly understood by most RSP’s, so how do consumers have a chance?  It has changed a number of times, and will likely change again soon enough.  The rules and guidelines change drastically for any number of variations in building conditions.  Why doesn’t Chorus make available to RSP’s either white-labelled or Chorus branded fact sheets as these changes take effect?  By doing this they would ensure that a consistent message is given to consumers, whereas at present, it was made clear to me recently that by calling 6 ISP’s, you will get 6 different versions of the consent and installation process for UFB services.  Currently, boring and convoluted service schedules are sent out along with “informer” emails when provisioning process alterations take effect.  That may be fine and well for the technically savvy, but this is a mass market service.  Give us easy to digest bullet points and sound bites to pass on.

- Create videos for RSP’s to imbed on their sites as new service types or other changes are announced.  What is CIR?  How does the new NGA Business 5 service differ from the Evolve 200 service?  The answer by the way, is that it’s multi-VLAN capable, but how well known is that?

- Provide RSPs with training material so that sales people across the industry are able to effectively and accurately set client expectations.  The fact of the matter is that RSP’s are selling Chorus branded services and if the RSP’s salesperson doesn’t understand how UFB fibre works, how it differs from other fibre services, how the installation process works and so on, then the consumer is going to be ill informed and that is undoubtedly going to have a negative impact on Chorus’s public perception.

I am not a fan of Gigatown as the access speeds are misleading, business is excluded, MDU’s will likely be excluded or charged more than advertised for installations, and for a few other reasons.  More than that though, it is a distraction when so much of Chorus’s core business is yet to function adequately.  The UFB roll-out is complex and constantly evolving, so education is critical, but sadly it is glaringly absent.

Chorus only makes money when RSP’s sell Chorus services.  Marketing budgets are supposed to be an investment in futures sales.

As the largest infrastructure wholesaler in New Zealand, Chorus needs to enable us to sell their services.

UPDATE: Chorus now say that they will provide services to businesses in the town that wins Gigatown.

By Brendan Ritchie – CEO, DTS

Brendan Ritchie is the CEO of DTS, a business focused ISP that has been supplying clients across Australia and New Zealand with internet, voice and tailored WAN solutions since 2002. Tweet him on @bcarmody

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