Showing posts with label MVNO brand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MVNO brand. Show all posts

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

MVNO World Congress Pre Conference Workshop 2015

2015 Pre Conference Workshop - MVNO Marketing

I had the pleasure of running the MVNO world Congress pre-conference workshop in the 2015 #MVNOIS, so as we run up to the 2016 MVNO event in Amsterdam its probably time to upload some of the slides to give you an overview and share some of the experience.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop 
The workshop was in three parts, this is the first part that focussed on MVNO Marketing, which in my now 16 year of doing MVNOs, is the hardest hurdle after the MNO agreement and MVNE plus all the other service provision contracts selection. The second part focusses on MVNO Data.
2015 #MVNOIS Pre Conference Workshop topics covered
I Will cover the MVNO Data services, MVNO International Roaming, and MVNO Multi-IMSI points in the next few days / weeks running up to the 2016 Conference, as these areas are key, if not the key way an MVNO can differentiate itself from other MVNOs and moreover its host MNO and grow scalability in a competitive mobile market.
An Activity every MVNO should do almost daily!
The first task was to name 3 Big MVNOs that the audience think market themselves well. This is important on many levels.

  • Firstly, if there are none of them in your market you need to ask some serious questions about why and make sure you are not repeating any of their mistakes! 
  • Secondly, it is where MVNOs most differentiate themselves at conception, but most easily compromise on in launch... and to be honest, from there they often never launch and/or never become successful. 
To be a successful MVNO you need to be able to easily access all the needed data on your customers, process this and send targeted below the line packages at them. The key here is that they are below the line, competitors do not see them, customers love and recommend them, but your competitors do not copy them. I want you to think about this as you go through the slides, and I add my 3 top MVNOs further down.
This is sadly where a lot of marketing time is wasted by MVNOs - above the line copy cat price competition - why?
Most MVNOs develop what I cal a bi-polar frankenstein approach to Marketing.

  • Bi-Polar as they flit between being slightly cheaper that their most expensive competition, to undercutting the cheapest offer from the biggest MNO in an instant. 
  • Frankenstein as the first marketing and even product set, is usually stolen from every MVNO that has ever existed in 5 countries, over 3 MVNO models in 6 different niches... and the result is, well usually awful! 
The way MVNOs market is by sending bespoke offers to their customers that will never be on a slide, as they arrive via SMS and the offer is only available to those customers, or other customers of the MVNO. To do this you need ready and quick access to data:

  • who do they call? 
  • what time do they call?
  • what handsets IMEI/MSISDN database are they using?
  • what locations are calling from frequenting?
  • what locations are they running out of credit?
  • where are they topping up?
  • how much and how often are they topping up?
  • what top-up channels are they using?
  • what type of data are they using, where and how fast?
All this is in the CDRs, GGSN and HLR, and needs to be available to the OCS needs to be fully integrated with this, as well as a tool to bulk SMS, and report who has what SMS, as while you will be marketing daily, its not good to market the same customers more than a few times per month for obvious reasons.
"If you cannot name 3 MVNOs from your territory that do this well, its most likely that they do not have access to this data, and if you do not, then you will not be a leader either" 
MVNOs are a Sales and Marketing organisation. The best ones have great BI and change pricing flexibility 
OK I jumped a few slides here on refining product and marketing, however this slide leads on well from above as well as: When an MVNO examines its subscriber acquisition costs (SAC), ARPU and Churn, it very quickly sees that MVNO led customer to customer and MVNO to customer led marketing obtain customers cheapest and keep them the longest. It is important to have a mix of SAC but these need to be kept down to grow successfully as an MVNO.
Choose and adapt from successful MVNOs, but avoid "Bi-Polar / Frankenstein" campaigns! 
Draw on what has worked and what is (see previous slide) is in budget. EE recently did a huge above the line campaign with Kevin Bacon, which is beyond any MVNO marketing budget, however its OM4G and 4GEE twitter coverage was cheap and genius and well within MVNO budgets.
Back to the three MVNOs from the activity above, go through these points.
In my workshop I then went through the above key points for three MVNOs I think market themselves well. My examples were deliberately different: Lyca Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile; the key being that while they are very different MVNOs in very different segments, theirs USPs focus on points that the MNO and other MVNOS find hard to copy, they deliver what they promise without extensive T&Cs, and typically their most successful packages are no where near as cheap, nor anywhere near as expensive, as the cheapest / most expensive MNO offerings of the "Bi-Polar" approach to pricing.
My most copied slide! The MVNO must evolve its marketing to launch successfully and then grow
Which brings me to the last slide of the Marketing section, and my most copied slide. Every MVNO that has been successful has evolved through these stages, many that have failed have failed to adapt, either because.

  • They just did not evolve. Some ethnic MVNOs started with a multi-language USP, but as customers learn their host country language the product needs to evolve, or the countries expand.
  • They could not evolve technically as they were tied too much into their host
  • They could not evolve operationally - if the reporting is manual spreadsheets... you are not going to market successfully beyond early adopters.
When launching an MVNO you can get by with the basic tools that an MVNE and the host MNO gives you, as long as this includes: CDRs, IMEI, HLR location of LUs, all transactions, collated top-up info, SMS marketing tools and reports, reconciliation, GGSN logs, etc. These need to be accompanied with the ability to update data settings OTA, edit the SPN OTA, change tariffs real-time, etc, etc. and usually require another 10-20 services to be sourced and integrated to move beyond early adopters.  These are the keys missing from failed MVNOs or underperforming MVNOs.


I hope you find these slides useful and informative. Feel free to paste these slides into your own presentations, as many do, but of course please do the basic common courtesy of quoting where the content is from if you do change the appearance and/or remove any logos, watermarks, etc.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Apple Global MVNO

Original Article 2007

Apple Global MVNO

Apple deal with operators is a de facto hardware MVNO
It is no secret that a typical MVNO may only manage to get a 10% to 40% margin on calls, onto which it has to add its costs. This is usually OK, as many of these have either already been sunk, written off or are as low as they can go if the MVNO core business is already a “no frills” card calling or other related business. However, it is still said margin before costs. It is, therefore no surprise that the most successful MVNOs so far have been “no frills” MVNOs as reported in by Business week in this article and as per my response below (previous article; RE: Why Europe’s MVNOs sing).
As far back as 2003, when I started writing my next generation MVNO report, I had the hardware MVNO as one of the next big business models. The two main contenders were Apple and Dell. Dell fell victim, in the UK at least, to Vodafone’s deal with Intel to give away 3G data cards with every Centrino laptop in exchange for merely signing a direct debit for the Vodafone SIM inside it. The Apple MVNO, however, has finally come to bear fruit, and in a way nobody could imagine: It is a Virtual, Virtual MVNO, as according to these articles in the Financial Times and the BBC, it has managed to get between 10% and 40% margin for all the iPhones, and on top of it no costs. The extra burden of billing, one of the biggest costs for an MVNO, is borne by the host network operator, as it’s the second major cost: customer care. Furthermore, it has managed to do what very few MVNOs have managed to date, export the model to become a global MVNO. To boot, its business plan manages to overcome the other great hurdle to any MVNO expansion: handset subsidies; as people are falling over themselves to buy an iphone, something to date that only Nokia and Sony Ericsson have managed to do with a premium handset to date (8800, 8210, N95, P800, P900, etc). You have got to hand it to Apple, they have pulled off the biggest MVNO coup to date. There is one final even more surprising fact, no, not that they managed it without my help (apart from buying a copy of my report): The biggest surprise is how they have managed to actually get the MNOs to bid against them, rather than the usual beauty contest that building an MVNO entails. Mobile Network Operators have not been in that seat since they managed to bid UK and Germany 3G licences into the billions. So how have they managed that?  It’s simple, due to the nature of the way networks were set-up, in larger economies there are networks that are predominantly focussed at a certain demographic. In the UK, the larger part of the youth market is on o2. However, it will not have escaped any of the networks that they could have poached a good few of the other’s customers.
So, for the record virtual mobile network operator, means 10-40% plus costs; virtual, virtual mobile operator means 10% to 40% with no costs, well at least if you are Apple.

Orignally posted by Christian Borrman 11:26am 25/09/07

is there still value in MVNOs?


Original article

Is there value in MVNOs?

THE MODEL HAS TAKEN SOME STICK, BUT THE WHOLESALE MODEL DOES NOT DIE EASILY
I have received an email from Pyramid with this title. It is amazing, two year's after publishing "next generation MVNOs" that Pyramid finally ask if there is still value in the last generation MVNO... Well no; there was no value in them anymore in 2004 when I began writing the report, nor was there in 2005 when it was published, and there is less still today. Today's MVNO is a much leaner operation that its forerunners like Virgin. As successful as Virgin was, it was created in the late 90's when spending $20Bn on a 3G network weemed like a good idea. Today's MVNO should have now got down to a T the ideas I put forward in 2005, and the key to a successful MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network in 2007 and 2008 will be:
  • Handing over "legacy" cost bases to the host MNO or even the handset manufacturer. MNOs handle huge risk every month: every month the UK MNOs and even handset sellers put forward their forecasts for sales. To give an idea, Nokia UK typically sell 500,000 handsets every month in the UK, their best month was 2 million handsets... so even a few hundred thousand handsets up or down on a mobile network operator's book, or even a large manufacturer like Nokia, well is not a huge issue. However, put this discrepancy into every MVNO business plan I have seen, and I have seen most that have passed the UK MNO, consultancy or investment market, and the business model runs into problems. The MVNO opportunity today lies clearly in new markets, lots of niche markets the MNO and even handset manufacturer cannot / do not directly capture or target. If they want these markets, they can either sponsor a music festival or two at the cost of a few million, or they could spend the same or less managing handsets for niche MVNOs with direct sales as a result.
  • Niche, Niche and Niche; The MNO brand will only stretch so far, niche MVNOs can capture new markets or keep existing users.
  • MVNA: the MVNE will not punt on small players, MNOs will not punt on anyone but "the next Virgin", however there are millions of subscribers in the UK alone who have very strong ties with major brands, events, social movements, clubs and other would be MVNOs, who 10,000 subscribers here, 30,000 subscribers there, add up to 100,000s of subs put together. They may all be different, but they do have a few things in common: simpler tariffs, smaller handset selection, more focussed customer care. The MVNA is just around the corner.
  • Cost reduction; gone are the days of warehousing branded phones with custom software; the clever MVNO will "brand" the handset Over the Air (OTA), either with an On Device Portal or an OTA software upgrade
DIY MVNO. US company Sonopia are offering user the ability to set up an MVNO in 10 minutes and receive 5% of the revenue. While this article, reported on The Register suggests that this model may not be popular in Europe, where the handset, then the tariffs, not content, which I agree with, it does propose an interesting trend: That MVNOs should compete on something other than on handset or tariff to e competitive, and that network generated income should be a revenue stream, not the sole source of revenue for the MVNO business model. Having written, contributed to, carried out due diligence on many MVNO business models over the last 8 years, and in light of the failures of EasyMobile, it is clear to me that the post Virgin and Tesco MVNOs will need to leverage their brand, content and or other much more effectively, to counter the fact that economies of scale in this market are a thing of the past. Realistically, going forward MVNO need to base their business model on breaking even on 10,000s of customers, not the millions or 100,000s that the many jumping late on the MVNO bandwagon seem to band around. Competing on handset and tariff is the domain of the MNO, not the MVNO. Added to this, it will not be long before people realise how expensive network subsidised phones actually turn out to be and look to source their phone separately, to then focus on a "network" that offers them the content, services, or simply just the bitpipe for voice and text that the individual wants.

originally posted by Christian Borrman 06:50am 05/04/07

mvno and the brand

MVNO and the Brand

We have heard a lot about the brand MVNO and MVNO and the brand, unfortunately most of it is confined to the conference room and reports.

Brand MVNO

The Brand MVNO is where it all started; Virgin Mobile UK spent a lot of money on promoting their brand, and they were right - look at how much money Vodafone started spending on its brand post Virgin success vs. before! The problem was, Virgin then went to conferences saying: "don't copy us unless you have £50M to spend on your brand" which the MVNO industry unfortunately generally read as "don't spend anything on your brand". The Brand MVNO Model is covered in this post.

MVNO Brand

The Brand is a critical part of every MVNO, from the pitch to the MNO to sales:
  1. The MNO is putting its faith in the MVNO ability to access a market - without a brand, how long will that last? Brand is one of your strongest MNO negotiation points!
  2. In fact all your MVNO partners will be sizing up the opportunity of your brand when they negotiate with you, as Brand = ability to sell, ability to distribute
  3. The brand will determine your your uptake and limit your churn. Remember, Remember that MVNOs live and die on acquiring customers cheaper (than the MNO can) and keeping customers longer, and the Brand is key to this.
  4. There is a role for the niche within a niche with brand: Brand helps you compete within even an extremely competitive space such as the Ethnic MVNO market

MVNO Brand as part of Marketing strategy

However, be aware of how you use your brand: see matrix below; many MVNO brands today are in the dangerous "follower" space, especially those that do not have a defined MVNO marketing strategy. Some may try to come in at the Leader level, however this has its problems, the key being that it is expensive to maintain: you can find yourself at a monthly / quarterly review renewing media that just is not effective at selling because it is protecting your brand, you may also be even considering subsidies or at least a large amount of arbitrage/utilisation risk on your bundles to get here...

Virgin mobile entered as the challenger, and did not move into the leader position until maybe 2-3 Million customers when it essentially became and MNO brand of its host, began subsidising handsets, etc, etc.

MVNO Brand Values

Becoming a challenger is not hard: if at first you have defined your product and segmented your market, the brand and its values should not be hard, but check, do those value ring through? An overwhelming feedback in the latest MVNO conference in Paris, from Red Bull, NRJ, Bleip and more leading brand strategy MVNOs commented on one thing: NO SMALL PRINT. If your brand is simplicity, honesty, etc, small print goes against this. Most MVNOs win over the MNO on simplicity, if you look at the MVNO segmentation post. Does your MVNO product reflect your MVNO brand, is what you are doing new, or just rehashing what the MNO does???

Work these simple points out, and not only will your negotiations with your MNO and other partners be simpler, but your MVNO will benefit is acquisition and retention - in this sense, every MVNO is a brand MVNO!

Original MVNO and the Brand support page:

BRAND IDENTITY IN MOBILE SERVICES

For a brand to have any value it must mean something to the customer and to do so it needs to be exclusive. This is not compatible with trying to own all areas, sectors and parts of the market with just one brand, as most mobile operators do today. Because of this, most mobile operators' brands are all over this matrix. Note that successful MVNOs, like Virgin Mobile, started as a challenger and are now becoming brand leaders, whilst minimising any association with the "follower" values.
©Copyright 2001-2005 Christian Borrman, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction Prohibited

mvno from a customer acquisition perspective

MVNO from a Customer Acquisition Perspective

One thing that is often overlooked by MVNOs is to look at the MVNO from the customer's perspective. This is important, as one of the quickest routes to failed MVNO bin is to create a mini-me mobile network, as you essentially create a product that has no differentiation  but somebody else's version has much more marketing, retail presence, support, existing customers, etc.

The customer perspective is an important reminder if the fact that as an MVNO, while you are a partner of one MNO, you are a competitor of the other MNOs, other MVNOs on your host network, and more importantly, your host MNO if you are not careful. Why is this important? Never lose site of the fact that tmobile he wholesale business is all about acquire customers, a

MNO to the Customer

The MNO's routes to market before the MVNO were typically either direct, via a retail store, which may or may not be its own now and via a service provider, see the red and red/blue sections below. Essentially, for the MNO, the MVNO (and MVNA) has allowed the MNO to reach a wider customer base (grey section) than the MNO ordinarily would have. The MVNA is critical, as it is the "last mile" attracting the most niche markets. The triangular shape of the MVNA indicates how the MVNA is where the most bleeding edge activity is happening  such as micro-MVNOs with just a Facebook page, where the brand almost belongs to its customers, and customers may go from brand to brand.

MVNO to the customer

The MVNO to the customer route is important as the MVNO has to realise that, while they may have an angle to their niche, they also have strong competition from a) the network operators, who have shiny marketing, and b) that a customer is by now a complex beast, and other MVNOs and indeed, smaller niches from MVNAs may be equally attractive.

Moreover, it is important for the MNO and MVNO to be honest about which customers in a niche they are better at attracting and maintaining. You, the MVNO, may own a niche lock stock and smoking barrel, however by the time you get to a customer who wants a subsidised iPhone and unlimited texts, data and voice... its it not better to pass that customer on your your host MNO as a lead???? 

Customer to the MVNO

Why is the customer going to chose your product? If you just rebrand an MVNO, what value are you adding? Do not underestimate small value adds, sometimes the simplest things like customer care in your language is enough, and key: its a differentiator!

I reality, if we look at the grey customer section, it goes from niche on the far left, to mass market on the right.

Original MVNO from customer perspective page

MVNO DEFINED FROM A CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVE

To Fully understand the MVNO, and moreover Next Generation MVNOs, we have to look outside the legacy network led definitions of an MVNO, as an MVNO is customer driven, and therefore business driven business model. From a customer perspective both the MNO and the MVNO are their "Network Provider". That is Virgin Mobile is seen to its customer as their network provider, not the host MNO, just as an MNO is seen as a network provider. The benefit here for the MNO is sales without marketing spend, but more often than not sales the MNO was unlikely to reach on its own.
A service provider, or airtime provider would be like Martin Dawes in the UK for example, which was one of the originally mandated airtime providers in the UK; here, both the host 'MNO' and the 'Service Provider' are seen to provide the service to the customer. This was sometimes confusing, and of little value-add to the customer, with the only differentiation coming in the shape of price and maybe some differentiated billing. In general however, the customer seems to prefer a single brand. The same is the case for the "powered by" model - the customer does not care  which MNO powered their MVNO, they have already chosen their "network". Hence Virgin Mobile being voted the best network every year in a row since launch in the UK. Similarly, there would be little value in the MVNE and MVNO brand being apparent to the customer.
©Copyright 2001-2005 Christian Borrman, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction Prohibited

Monday, 24 September 2012

Solavei and Radioshack interesting new MVNO business models and next big MVNO

Some big occurrences in MVNO land recently:
  1. Over the weekend we had Solavei surfacing as live
  2. Over the holidays a new data MVNO Radioshack emerged
  3. We are working on the next big MVNO model :)
So, firstly up with Solavei, not only a new model, but also covered in Engadget and Allthingsd shows how mainstream MVNO is no becoming, in fact Engadget at least have been tracking the tag MVNO for nearly two years now.
Sadly Radioshack mobile was not about live tracking of their team... 
Radioshack makes a lot of sense as well, and begs the question why the likes of Maplin in the UK are not doing the same: the Maplin MVNO as per the Radioshack data MVNO, make a lot of sense for the sellers of hardware. There was a lot of speculation and leaks prior to launch,  as I had a suspicion they had done it just to enable team HTC style real live stats on races, which at the moment only Levi is doing as part of an association with mapmyride. Another equivalent in the UK/Europe would be Expansys, who rode the wave of mobile phone and gadget online growth from the middle of last decade, however at the time the MVNO model was not really ready for the MVNO, nor I suspect were the VC backers (I still have certain VCs throwing curve balls into MVNO discussions that they are adamant that MVNOs costs tens of millions of $ zzz...) wanting to invest in the MVNO model. VCs do not like investing in things they do not get 100%, and let's face it, not many people get MVNOs 100%, however in their defense, MNOs do not make VC investment easy with woolly clauses around assignment and commitments and ownership of customers, etc that restrict the sale value of any MVNO.

So back to the interesting models. Solavei are running an incentive scheme that we will all be watching very closely; both the fully inclusive model and the incentive to sign on other customers could be interesting, as long as the potential fraud elements are contained.

Radioshack is very interesting as, now online sales are prevalent in mobile, it levels the playing field somewhat for big brands like Radioshack, and the MNOs would be wise to jump on this one and engage these brands.

In terms of the interesting models we are working on, well you will have to wait and see! In the meantime, it is both great to see Engadget tagging MVNO as well as the likes of Allthingsd reporting on these developments, as it is refreshing to see the "next big things" coming through as MVNOs finally move out of "brands, supermarkets and ethnic". Even more interestingly, a lot of these will se the rise of MVNEs, at least in Europe where the direct MVNO roadmaps are congested to say the least...

Finally, we move onto the old topic of MVNO Marketing with Solavei being very refreshing indeed; in addition to the name sounding like Esperanto for "go solar" the marketing elements is definitely strong, as it the fact that Radioshack's core market may have been niche, everybody know's it via sponsoring cycling, just as the Sky brand is no enjoying a resurgence on the back of its Tour win, and announcing an MVNO is a not only a great way to advertise your mobile offering, but also the fact that Radioshack now sell more to more people, not just electronics kit's to the market that were the inspiration for the film "40 year old virgin".

So I leave you with my thoughts on MVNO marketing plans, a very popular thread that was reblogged by Prepaid MVNO among others, and an equally popular thread on personal brand MVNO. If you want to get these articles as they come, you can follow MVNO on Facebook, MVNO on Twitter or download our MVNO app and MVNO web app.

Monday, 21 May 2012

VAS, Facebook and the MVNO continued...

VAS MVNO, Facebook MVNO

As many of you will know, I feel quite passionately about VAS and the MVNO. This is not just an obsession, its just a realisation that any good business needs a tie-in, a value-add, a "something" that means it does not sell on price alone, and so when a newer, shinier competitor comes along, in order of preference the customer goes:
  1. ah, but, does shiny new things do, this? no, thought not - high value - major competitive advantage
  2. I would have to change the way I do all my...(insert VAS here) to work with the new service, medium value - useful advantage
  3. I would have to update all my details, low value - would just be a pain to move, like moving bank account or electricity provider
The problem is, most MVNOs, and even some MNOs are not even on point 3 level of VAS.

So why not? well there is a list of reasons why from a legacy perspective this was the case, however things are changing

The usual ways to leverage data was content, content, content. were an expensive portal, streaming video, etc, etc. These days are gone, and the proof is the above. Indeed the days were never there, the amount of conferences I have chaired, attended and spoken at where "content" was the supposed issue, and all I could say was, customers have content: its emails (blackberry proved this to be the case!) and the web in general, but on the mobile. 

Facebook is driving MVNO

The proof is hand is this article: showing that facebook access from mobile has now surpassed computer access. I am honestly not surprised. In fact, in app development focus groups even 3 years back, we saw that a good mobile app, like only apple had at the time (an app that did not look like a mobile web browser, allowed upload of images and push notifications, chat) managed to completely shift usage of Facebook from computer to mobile, while more basic ones and now the very good mobile web experience manage to take a good deal of it.

The reasons for this are multiple, 
  • many people do not have access to unrestricted internet access or facebook at work
  • most of those who do would rather not be seen using facebook at work
  • using Facebook on a PC raises probably more privacy issues as computers tend to be shared more and have more browsing history that people may not want plundering so facebook can make more advertising revenue
  • the key one however is convenience, Facebook, and indeed our digital lives, are now round the clock, constant streams of info, updates, feeds, chats and more: mobile just suits this better, whether its from a web browser or an app

VAS is driving MVNO data

In fact, everything that is driving MNO data, is driving MVNO data, unless as an MVNO you make data difficult, like by not having the world's most advanced OTA data APN settings :).

The key is, with it being so simple to get this working, why are so many MVNOs still rendering themselves as a low value, sim-swapping bitpipe when all they need to do is get APN settings set-up, and some simple data tariffs. As we have seen, most users are using less than 100mb per month anyway as per my previous article on this blog, and as per my blog on Apps and App stores showing that even the most basic MVNO type handsets that many MVNOs perceive their user base is using, which means MVNOs can still be very competitive with the average data prices I am seeing while negotiating MVNO agreements (at least the prices I have seen in the last 3-5 years) and/or ones that could be easily and quickly agreed with an MVNO if approached with a plan around social networking, rather than the usual "I need cheaper prices" routine :)


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