Grow Your WISP Business
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) provide a critical service to bridge the digital divide, so it’s no surprise that this industry is poised for strong growth. In fact, many large national and regional telco operators have also announced their plans to expand fixed wireless offerings.
As a result, it’s about to get tough for incumbent rural WISPs that are primarily local small businesses. In addition to changing market dynamics, success in marketing and advertising is a critical driver for any business’s success. WISPs are no different.
With many WISPs, marketing sometimes takes a backseat and growth can suffer as a result. Budgets are another constraint. WISPs, like other small businesses, need to extract maximum value from their budget. That’s where this list comes in!
Why We Prepared This List
Here at Preseem, we’re committed to helping WISPs succeed in doing what they do best. So we decided to use our marketing experience and extensive engagement with hundreds of WISPs on a daily basis to lend a hand. The result is this list of 7 proven WISP marketing tips that you can use for your business. We know marketing isn’t always easy and we want to make it more approachable for the entire fixed wireless community. Following each tip, we offer some hacks as well as additional context.
How We Put It Together
For this list to be relevant, we reached out to many of our existing customers. We asked them simple questions to understand what works for them and what would they recommend to other startup WISPs. We hope you find it helpful.
WISP Marketing Tip 1: Use Facebook
Joe Falaschi from E-vergent Wireless told us he likes to be in control of driving his company’s success. That’s why he relies on Facebook to attract a steady stream of new customers. The fast-growing WISP from Wisconsin leverages Facebook’s hyper-targeted advertising platform to reach potential customers in its wireless coverage area. Joe believes the ROI on Facebook campaigns is much better when compared to traditional tools employed by WISPs.
According to this article, 65 million businesses are using Facebook Pages and 4 million are advertising on Facebook. Facebook advertising is critical for small businesses. Let’s face it, your customers are using Facebook so if you want to reach them, you should consider Facebook ads.
Facebook ads can be as targeted as you like and can also be personalized for each customer.
If you want a chance at making a real, personal connection with your perfect customer, consider Facebook. For a nominal cost, you can increase the number of customers who consider your business. After that, you can start to build your customer base. To be sure, there’s a learning curve when starting to use Facebook ads, but the time investment is likely to be worthwhile.
WISP Marketing Hack #1: Upload your existing customer list to Facebook and use it to build specific audiences.
Are you seeking new customers who are similar to your current ones? You know they’re out there. However, you may not know how to reach them. Try using your current customer list to help Facebook’s audience algorithm learn how to connect with your desired customer base. Learn more here.
WISP Marketing Tip 2: Use Video Marketing
Evan Galvin is a successful WISP owner at XL Broadband. He’s also a big believer in helping other WISPs out when it comes to marketing. That’s why he started Ping Marketing, a company dedicated to providing marketing services to WISPs. One of the key suggestions Evan gives to other WISPs is to leverage the power of videos when it comes to digital marketing and Facebook advertising.
Evan understands that one of the biggest problems that WISPs deal with is a lack of consumer education. Many people don’t understand what a WISP is or how they’re different from satellite internet providers. This is where simple animated explainer videos come in. XL Broadband has seen a lot of success with these videos and Evan encourages others to try them as well. XL Broadband also invests in customer reviews and testimonial videos so that prospective customers can get real feedback and engage with their services.
There’s plenty of evidence to support the power of video marketing.
However, it doesn’t have to be something complex! Simply be yourself, share a customer review, or just talk about who you are and what you do. Video can capture and hold the interest of potential customers in a way that other content can’t.
Give your potential customers a chance to get to know you. Helping your customers get to know the real you may be one of the key takeaways of our list of 7 Proven WISP Marketing Tips. The unique personality of your business is one of your greatest tools and part of your positioning as a WISP.
WISP Marketing Hack #2: Deliver your videos to a wide audience via Youtube’s pre-roll ads.
Use Google Ads to find out how! You can easily re-target website visitors with videos such as honest customer reviews or promotional offers to gain new customers.
WISP Marketing Tip 3: Use Lawn Signs and Door Marketing
Steve Barnes has been in the computing and ISP world for more than 30 years. He’s been a WISP owner in the past and now works as the Wireless Operations Manager for NLBC in New Lisbon, Indiana. For NLBC, a 118-year old company with a sizable fixed customer base, yard signs and door hangers have been a good source of new customers.
Steve believes that as long as yard signs are simple and easy to read from a distance, they can help increase awareness for your services. NLBC has also had success with door hangers that their techs distribute to neighbors after doing a new install for a customer.
Tim Maylone from Cherry Capital Connection is focused exclusively on building a fiber network for his ISP. For them to invest in building networks, 66% participation from a selected neighborhood is mandatory. They use flyers with relevant information to explain this requirement to potential customers. Once they attract enough signups, the ISP moves into construction mode.
We all know that outdoor marketing signs catch the eye, but do you know some of their other benefits? Lawn signs are an attractive and, importantly, low-cost option. Door hangers are positioned in the one place you know your potential customer can’t miss.
Every time you do an install for a new customer, ask their permission to put out a lawn sign for a week or two. You can even incentivize them to keep it out longer via a credit or other promotional offer.
On a typical tower coverage survey, make sure to reach out to potential customers in your zone with some door marketing. Using flyers door-to-door is an effective strategy. There are also many alternatives available that offer targeted geographic mailing. These include private companies as well as postal services, such as the Every Door Direct Mail Service offered by USPS.
WISP Marketing Tip 4: Engage with Local Chambers, Boards of Trade, or Trade Organizations
Ask almost any WISP that has ever been to a trade show or event organized by WISPA, and they’ll tell you the real value of such events is in the informal networking. Learning from other WISP owners and operators is truly an invaluable resource.
Memberships in organizations like WISPA offer long-lasting value, and if you’re building a WISP business, joining is strongly recommended. The same goes for local trade organizations in your region. Belonging to boards of trade or chambers of commerce is a chance to interact with your community and other local businesses.
It can be challenging to enter into isolated or rural markets. The good news is that there may already be infrastructure in place to help you connect with potential customers. If there’s a chamber of commerce or board of trade in your area, makes sure to connect with them.
This is a great way to add legitimacy to your organization as well. Being a chamber of commerce member could be the difference between a potential customer taking a chance on a new internet service provider or not. Proving you’re a part of your community is good and can be especially important in rural markets.
WISP Marketing Hack #4: Become a presence at annual trade shows.
If you’re considering joining WISPA as a member, try coming out to their annual WISPAPALOOZA and WISPAMERICA conferences and see the value for yourself! We’re sure you’ll sign up for a membership afterward.
WISP Marketing Tip 5: Engage with the Community
Another way to connect with the local community is by hosting or sponsoring an event. This allows you to let the community know who you are and what you do. You can even do this through volunteering. Getting your name out in the community helps keep you top of mind for your potential customers.
One avenue to look at is having your business post comments on community-focused forums online. This is a low-cost way of getting involved in your community that could have an immediate impact.
If Facebook ads aren’t within your budget, consider making your presence felt on Facebook Marketplace. If you can occupy some real estate in your desired customer’s mind, you could be on the way to being their new internet service provider. You know your customer is spending time on Facebook. You should be spending time there as well.
WISP Marketing Hack #5: Work with local retailers to develop a coupon book
One strategy that we’ve seen work in some other markets has been to sponsor a coupon book. Reach out to some non-competing local businesses (e.g. restaurants, barber shops, museums, etc.) and get some exclusive offers. Most businesses are happy to offer 10-20% coupons in exchange for new customers. You can also include sign-up discounts for your service in the book. You can then market the coupon book to your potential customers and seek permission to reach out to them for future communication.
WISP Marketing Tip 6: Use Word of Mouth Advertising
An informal online poll on WISP Talk, a leading WISP member group on Facebook, asked participants to vote for their key source of new customers. More than 55% voted for word-of-mouth marketing.
The value of your existing customers recommending your services to others is priceless. One key way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing is a referral bonus. This is something we’ve seen from several customers, usually in the form of a credit on their next bill. Some WISPs also build loyalty program tiers to encourage customers to refer more friends and family members. We’ve heard that many customers greatly appreciate this. In short, this is a chance to help their friends and family.
Jeff Hall from ISP Management recently rolled out a new program for referral bonuses. They have a standard referral bonus that gives a $25 credit to customers for each referral. They also employ an ‘Ambassador level’ status for customers who leave them a positive review on Facebook and Google. These customers then get an extra $10-$35 cash bonus for a referral.
Word-of-mouth marketing is relevant at every stage of a company’s growth. You can then leverage video marketing and other digital tools to amplify the good things your customers have to say about your network and services. Basically, your happy customers can become brand ambassadors for your company. You’re already working hard to make your customers happy, why not use that effort to boost your marketing as well?
WISP Marketing Hack #6: Feature your clients!
Something as simple as a ‘customer of the month’ promotion where you write something about a selected customer. You can then take their picture and share it on social media with your followers.
WISP Marketing Tip 7: R.A.D.I.O.
Many rural community-based WISPs use radio commercials to advertise their services. You can try a variety of messaging with these spots, including promoting specific seasonal deals and events.
Radio stations are a tried-and-true way to deliver your message to your potential audience. They’re known to be excellent communication tools for rural/suburban communities where many WISPs operate.
Radio advertising can be a very cost-effective option. If you live in a region with a lot of local radio stations, advertising tends to be relatively cheaper and more targeted. Obviously, this is great for WISPs as they look to expand their service from one community to another.
WISP Marketing Hack #7: Radio sponsorships.
Apart from traditional campaigns promoting your services, you can work with your local radio providers to sponsor regular spots, e.g. the hourly traffic update, to help drive awareness for your brand.
Pro Tip: Content Marketing
It’s also a great idea for WISPs to invest time and resources into content marketing. Whether it’s your blog, social media platforms, forums, videos or other assets, try to develop engaging and relevant content. Potential topics include how-tos, computer safety, parental controls, and cybersecurity. This is a great way to develop credibility with your target market. Your community can recognize your efforts and engage with you even if they aren’t customers yet. Once they do that, they’ll think of you seriously when they’re considering their internet options. This is a longer-term approach but the value could be enormous.
An important thing to remember is that, in marketing, there’s no one single approach that’s going to work every time. A number of touch points are necessary to convert someone into a customer. People research you if they’re interested, so the key is to make sure you stay top of mind.
In other words, employing multiple, effective marketing strategies is the key to turning people into customers.