Sunday, 20 January 2013

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.
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