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!
When it Comes to Your Money, Does the Truth Hurt?
“We’ve been arguing about this for year, and here we are in our 50’s. It’s time to stop!” Laura said empathically.
Paul’s downcast eyes and silence spoke volumes.
Laura continued, “We’ve worked with several advisors who have tried to help us invest our money in a sensible way. Then whenever the market goes down, Paul calls the advisor and tells him to sell everything! In all these years, no matter how much we work to build our financial security, we’re always playing catchup.”
Her words hung like a rain cloud about to burst when Paul began to speak. “I know, I know. I just can’t help it. I get nervous that we’re going to lose all our money. When the market goes down, I scramble—in my thoughts and in my actions. The driving force behind it is: At least if it’s in cash, the balance won’t go down.”
This is the moment where I felt I could lend my advice. First, I needed to learn about this particular couple and their values. Then, I could begin helping them take control of their finances.
“Tell me Paul,” I said. “What did you learn about money growing up? What messages did you hear as a child about money? From your father? From your mother?”
Paul’s eyes moved up and to the left, indicating his mind was reaching for memory. “My parents never talked to us kids about money, really. The one thing that stands out is my grandfather talking about The Great Depression and how it was such a tragic time. My parents both worked, but they never made a lot of money. They fought about money sometimes.”
“Any other memories about money?”
“Actually, yes. I remember when my father took me to the bank to open up a passbook savings and how exciting it was. The bank manager typed the passbook on this old manual typewriter and gave it to me. He showed me how the interest on the account added to the amount I deposited. I felt very grown up that day! But I guess that was the sum total of money training from my parents.”
“Can you help me understand how you and Laura make financial decisions?”
The question couldn’t be more impactful if a boulder had landed on his head. While Laura looked at Paul with a mildly accusatory glare, Paul searched for something to say that would keep his well-conceived protective fortress from crumbling. I interjected to ease the tension. I could feel the guilt in the air.
“Let me frame that another way, Paul and Laura. We all do the best we can as we live our lives. Let’s face it, our lives are filled with responsibilities in our families and our jobs, not to mention outside interests, health, and friends. While financial issues are important, unless you either have the knowledge and experience—or the help, most people avoid getting too deep into the confusion of managing their finances by doing the very least they can. What we don’t know scares us. So we defer, delay, make rash decisions based on our lack of time, knowledge, desire. Add a dash of fear to that equation, and you have a formula for financial problems. I want you to know, you are not alone. It’s more common than you could even imagine. The question is, do we allow the truth in so that we can move forward?”
It’s important to admit the truth behind our actions in order to rectify past and future mistakes or regrets. Living in denial only perpetuates making decisions that could potentially lead to financial disaster.
“I hate to admit it,” Paul said. “I guess in my desire to protect Laura from stress, I’ve made decisions that have hurt us, and I’m sorry. Michael, you hit the nail on the head. You defer, avoid, and allow your emotions to take over. And as a result, bad stuff happens. I think I’m ready to ask for help.”
Laura’s expression softened, and said, half-kiddingly, “You think?”
- 1 of 888