By Tennille Shields
In malls across the country, thousands of consumers flock to their nearest Apple store for the latest iPhone, iPod, iPad and a range of accessories. Apple is known for having retail stores packed to capacity with inquisitive, ready-to-buy customers, while equally attentive employees stand ready to answer questions and provide solutions.
While rural telcos lack the deep pockets and large customer base that primarily fuels the Apple store’s success, the ability to sell the customer experience is one that NTCA members know well. As the industry and consumer demand migrate toward all things broadband, some NTCA members are going to extra lengths to show customers just how much the service can change their lives.
Putting on a Show
Television commercials, print ads and other marketing collateral can play a large role in piquing your customers’ curiosity. To win them over, however, you have to give them the opportunity to see, touch, feel and experience broadband firsthand.
With that idea in mind, Dickey Rural Networks (Ellendale, N.D.) hosted a technology fair in November 2011 featuring gadgets and a range of apparatuses requiring broadband, including Internet, video, tablets, SmartTVs, iPads, gaming consoles, cellphones, and security and surveillance equipment.
"We invited the public in to check out the display and answered questions on how technology can make their life simpler, easier and faster,” said Janell Hauck, marketing manager at Dickey Rural Networks. "We had approximately 50 people attend, with some customers driving 30–40 miles. We were pleased with the response, as the customers asked a lot of questions, which we turned into sales.”
Quite similarly, Monitor Cooperative Telephone Co. (Woodburn, Ore.) hosted a technology open house last year in conjunction with its annual meeting. What started out as a "neat idea” to bring in a few people turned out to be a very popular event that attracted a standing-room-only crowd.
While the cooperative offered demos that allowed for individualized customer experiences such as a Roku box and gaming system, this year’s event will feature several demo stations suitable for a larger crowd.
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