Guarantee the success of offering broadband internet with a robust lifecycle strategy.

Guarantee the success of offering broadband internet with a robust lifecycle strategy.

Choosing to switch to fast broadband internet should be as easy as “Where do I sign up?” But for many of your members, this decision isn’t so simple. Some can be confused, comparing your new offering to the internet they’re currently using. For others, the price difference may be unclear if their current internet, even if it is not great, is bundled with services such as TV, phone or home security. There are any number of reasons why your co-op should consider a clear, proven, step-by-step approach to marketing broadband.

We took a similar strategy with one of our clients when they decided to pioneer fiber internet for residential and business customers in Mississippi. After the project was announced, Ramey partnered with them to develop a communications program that has been highly successful in every community they entered. Today, the company has built out over 9,000 miles of fiber and has continued plans to expand the service indefinitely.

At its simplest, Ramey breaks down the communications goals into these phases:

  • Education and Signup. It’s important not to assume your members understand or appreciate the real benefits of broadband internet. So any communications plan should begin with a clear, straightforward discussion of the benefits of broadband and a simple, transparent presentation of how it compares to their other internet options.
    • People who are used to slow internet may not understand the real-world advantages, and this category can be confusing, with satellite, DSL, cable and other options that seem “good enough.”
    • Price can also be misleading with hidden fees or bundled costs, making an informed decision that much harder.
    • Asking members to register or preregister for service can be effective as a highly localized effort, personalized for small towns, neighborhoods or even subdivisions.
  • Progress reports to manage expectations on the buildout of your broadband network.
    • Construction may take months or years. Delays should be expected due to weather or technical issues. Member excitement has to be tempered with transparency and regular progress reports.
  • Preparing members for construction issues.
    • Once construction begins, inconveniences, messes and perceived damage to roads and property must be managed carefully.
    • Issues may range from a blocked lane on a busy road to personal property damage caused by a buried broadband line in a member’s front yard.
    • Give a forum for members to ask questions and make complaints.
    • While most members will have a satisfying experience, a vocal minority are likely to have issues that need to be heard.
    • Consider appointing someone on your staff as “broadband ambassador” to keep in close touch with the community.
    • Think about establishing a dedicated hotline for questions and complaints.
  • Offering members another chance to sign up.
    • Some will only be motivated to sign up when they see evidence of fiber internet being installed near them or when they hear from satisfied neighbors.
    • Often, the fact that you’ve chosen to install high-speed internet in a new area will spur other providers to consider doing the same. It’s not unusual for them to begin advertising their service while you are in mid-buildout.
    • Be ready to defend your investment with messages about product superiority, customer service, commitment to community and price.

Providing high-speed internet to underserved or rural communities provides a tremendous benefit for thousands of deserving members. Done right, it can be a relationship-building effort that’s rewarding for everyone.

Learn more about Ramey’s Broadband Communications Program. 

Related POVS