Sprint Stole Verizon’s Spokesperson. So What?
You almost have to give someone at Sprint a standing ovation for their recent advertising campaign featuring your Verizon’s “Can you hear me now” guy, Paul Marcarelli.
It’s the advertising equivalent of a judo hip toss.
Verizon is the big bully with more than 2X Sprint’s subscriber base. A lot of money was spent to make Marcarelli the face of the company (as well as the butt of their jokes). Now underdog Sprint is using Verizon’s own “brand equity” against itself.
One of the cleverest advertising coups in recent memory.
I’m convinced these campaigns won’t save Sprint’s sinking ship. I’m also convinced YOU can profit by studying what’s happening here.
Here’s What Sprint Did Right
The commercials are attention-grabbing. The first time you see THE Verizon guy playing for the other team, it’s nearly impossible to ignore.
- Your brain has to try make sense of it
- There’s controversy: what made Marcarelli go Benedict Arnold and switch to Sprint? (Turns out, it’s not call quality)
- It’s funny in an “Oh no he didn’t” kind of way
It’s critical to hold your audience’s attention long enough to tell them what they need to know. That’s what gives you the opportunity to generate interest and desire.
There’s no rational reason for it, but “celebrities” almost always bring a level of trust to the products/services/brands they’re attached to. Over time, spokespeople can become (niche) celebrities and garner familiarity, likeability and trust.
At Halloween, Flo from Progressive is more popular than Dracula.
The ads are also focused on a value proposition: 50% cost savings. That seems to be the only thing Sprint has to offer…
Why It Won’t Make a Difference
— Sprint provides inferior service. They’re even admitting that fact in these commercials.
Even if this advertising campaign effort brings in a lot of new subscribers (Q4 projections indicate otherwise), the business loses big time when people cancel their service due to poor quality service. This is a long-time problem Sprint hasn’t fixed.
— No one wants the 50% Off plan. Sprint’s CEO has stated the company will probably stop promoting this low-priced plan in the near future. Potential subscribers are looking for features they can’t get at that price.
The profit margins on this plan are so thin that they virtually guarantee a continuation of low-quality service in the future.
Quick Takeaways That Will Make a Difference for YOU
1) Provide great service. Or team up with/outsource to someone who can deliver great service where you’re weak.
2) Find out what your target market wants and offer it to them — in a way that highlights the benefits valuable to THEM.
3) Set your prices at a level that empowers you to a) offer great service and b) invest back into your business. You can discount yourself right out of business!
You don’t have to have a million dollar marketing budget to put those ideas into practice!
What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?
We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.
The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.
There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?
The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.
Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.
But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.
Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.
What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.
As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.
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