You Can't Be All Things to All People

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

You Can't Be All Things to All People

This morning Seth Godin blogs about alienating the 2%. In short, you can't please everyone. There's more money in trying to please a targeted core. In cliche, You can't please everyone.

But boy do companies try. It's difficult to sell wholesale and retail, especially to the whole marketplace. Your prices erode. And it's two different strategies and two different stories.

Level3 was a Carrier's Carrier. So were some of the companies that they acquired like WilTel. This meant that the entire organization sold wholesale. It took a long time to create a system and organization inside Level3 that would allow them to sell Retail. It's still a work in progress.

Another example would be NTG. NTG had many different plans: wholesale, switch partition; direct; back to wholesale. Lots of time and money wasted.

The hardware PBX vendors are trying to sell hosted now. A good example is Fonality. (See video here where Chris Sherwood of Fonality says that you can have Hosted VoIP, SAAS, Hybrid, Premise - any way you want it.) A hardware company telling their market that they can forget about the hardware.

Think about that.

I get Cloud is the rage today due to all the buzz, but it is a confusing scenario to try to sell hardware (premise based PBX) then turn around as say forget about the hardware. Fonality should really be pushing HUD, which is their differentiator.

You have to understand your marketplace: you can't just follow the buzz either. Did you examine what wasn't working with your original plan? Did you do market research on your target market? Did you test your new story on a focus group? Is your new message loud and clear (and everyone in your organization is saying the same thing)? Will going Cloud really solve the underlying problems that caused you to scrap your original strategy?

Many VoIP Providers start out selling direct, then go white label or wholesale. Why? It's about scale. They didn't get enough traction (fast enough). Or to put it another way: they failed in either planning or execution on the original retail strategy. I see that more and more.

Switching from wholesale to retail (or vice versa) likely doesn't solve the underlying issues. For example, What Story Are You Telling Your Target Audience? How are you getting that story out there? Is your target market a valid marketplace? Does your story resonate with them? Again, you can't be all things to all people.

Selling Cloud and Hosted PBX is NOT easy. It's not Telecom really. It's software. Actually you are selling a Customer Experience.

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