Wireless Internet Service Providers provide a critical service to bridge the digital divide in today’s hyper-connected world. It’s no surprise that this industry is poised for strong growth. Many large national and regional telco operators have also announced their plans to expand fixed wireless offerings. Whether it’s AT&T, Verizon or CenturyLink, everyone seems to be joining the fixed wireless party.
As a result, the going is to set 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. Indeed, WISPs are no different. Most WISPs are started by tech geeks and computer folks. Moreover, marketing sometimes takes a backseat and business suffers. Budgets are another constraint. WISPs, like other small business, seek maximum value for their limited war chests. This is simple economics and should be the main consideration. When you have a limited budget, you need to make it effective.
Bonus! Don’t forget to scroll down to the end of this blog for some free WISP marketing assets that support the WISP marketing tips we discuss in this blog.
Why have we prepared this list?
Here at Preseem, we’re committed to helping WISPs succeed in doing what they do best. In other words, a growing WISP industry is best for our success so our interest is clear. That’s why we thought of leveraging our extensive engagement with hundreds of WISPs on a daily basis and comprehensive marketing experience. The result is this list of 7 proven WISP marketing tips that you can employ for your business success. We hope to help all our WISP partners. We know marketing isn’t obvious and wish to make it more approachable for the entire fixed wireless community. Following each tip, we offer some hacks as well as additional context.
How did we do it?
In order 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. In other words, this is a quick summary of our research and we hope this is helpful.
If you think you have a tip worth sharing, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
WISP Marketing Tip 1: Use Facebook
Joe Falaschi from E-vergent Wireless likes to be “in control” of driving their business success. Certainly, that’s why he relies on Facebook for attracting 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 while also highlighting its offerings. Joe believes the ROI on Facebook campaigns is much better when compared to traditional tools employed by WISPs.
“65 million businesses are using Facebook Pages, and 4 million are advertising on Facebook.” Facebook advertising is critical for small businesses in general. Likewise, WISPs are no different. The simple fact is that your customers are using Facebook. If you want to reach them, you need to be considering Facebook ads.
The key advantages of Facebook advertising are linked to Facebook’s long history of expertise in online marketing. Facebook ads can be as targeted as you’d like. There’s almost no limit to how specific your advertising can be. These ads are also personable. As a result, they can be truly specific to the 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. Because of all this, the use of video is one of the most popular of our 7 proven marketing tips for WISPs. Nevertheless, there is a learning curve to be able to effectively deploy Facebook ads. However, the time investment is 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 is also a big believer of helping other WISPs out when it comes to marketing. That’s why he started Ping Marketing – a company dedicated to relevant marketing services for other WISP owners. 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 across America deal with is a lack of education. Many people don’t understand what a WISP is or how they are different from satellite internet providers. This is where simple animated explainer videos come in! XL broadband has had a lot of success with such videos and he encourages others to try it out too. XL broadband also invests in customer reviews and testimonial videos so that other prospective customers can get real feedback and engage with their services.
There’s evidence to support the power of video marketing.
It’s time for small businesses to use the tools that marketers worldwide have pivoted into. A video is a wonderful tool, not just in our 7 proven WISP marketing tips list. As a result, video is often the answer. However, it doesn’t have to be something complex! Be yourself, share a customer review, or just talk about who you are and what you do. Video captures the interest in potential customers in a way that many other types of content do not. Above all, complex ideas can be delivered simply on video.
One of the key characteristics that resonate when WISPs talk to customers is that they’re real people, not a faceless corporation. Use that to your advantage! Be real with your potential customers. Additionally, give them a chance to get to know you. Helping your customers to know the real you may be one of the key takeaways of our list of 7 Proven WISP Marketing Tips. In conclusion, use video to show your customers who you are. The unique personality of your business is one of your greatest tools. It is 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 telephone 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, these help increase awareness for your services and callbacks. NLBC has also had success with door hangers that their techs/installers put out on neighbors as they are doing new installs in a customer’s premises. Similarly, this strategy is extensively employed by the real-estate industry as well.
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 and explaining 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 a low cost and local option that never fails to impress. Door hangers go to the one place you know your customer is going to be. Above all, there’s something to be said for a physical ad. Especially in a personal and/or rural market. In a rural market, there will be less of this type of marketing. In other words, the examples that are present will be effective. This is because your audience isn’t overwhelmed.
Every time you do an install at a new customer, you should be seeking their permission to put a lawn sign for a week or two. You can then incentivise them to keep it longer and use a bill credit or other promotional offer. Also, you can customize offers for neighbors if they see the ad. ‘Your neighbor just got XX great speed from us. Maybe you should ask them for the secret. (hint: it’s xyz broadband). Something witty and straightforward could be effective. In conclusion, be funny. Use your unique business personality to your advantage. As I’ve stated, starting with a positive experience with your company is important.
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 whatever might be your objective – new sales/ seasonal discounts/ freebies! There are many alternatives available out there that offer targeted geographic mailing. These include private companies as well as postal services. Similarly, one common example is the Every Door Direct Mail Service offered by USPS known for its cost-effective services.
WISP Marketing Tip 4: Engage with Local Chambers/Boards of Trade/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. Similarly, they’ll mention the late-night chats with other WISP owners and employees. In addition, you can find answers to all your pressing questions as well as learn from others who have gone through a similar journey as you at such events.
The value of a WISPA membership is hard to pin down to a dollar value. Such organizations and their memberships offer long-lasting value. If you’re building a WISP business, taking a membership is strongly recommended. Similarly, the same goes for local or regional trade organizations in your region. In this case, consider WISPA to be a highly specialized trade organization. For boards of trade or chambers of commerce, look at them as a chance to interact with your community. They’re often very focused on local business. As a locally-focused business, you should be too. In conclusion, use the existing framework to connect with your area.
Tim Maylone from Cherry Capital Communications, a hybrid wireless and fiber operator, participates regularly in his local chamber, association and township level meetings.
Sometimes, isolated or rural markets can be challenging to break into. The good news is that there may already be infrastructure in place to help you connect with customers. Is there a chamber of commerce or board of trade in the area that you bring internet to? You should be connected with them. Trade organizations exist because they offer value to their members. If you want to be part of that value, reach out.
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. This can be important in rural markets.
WISP Marketing Hack #4: If you are thinking about joining WISPA, consider coming to one of their annual shows.
If you’re considering joining WISPA as a member, try coming out for one of their two annual shows – WISPAPALOOZA or WISPAMERICA 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 targeting them directly. This can be done easily and in a straightforward manner.
Host or sponsor an event! Let the community know that you’re servicing their area, and what you do. It’s remarkable how much different a little top of mind presence can have when you’re trying to develop your customer list. There doesn’t have to be a large money contribution associated with this. It could even be through volunteering! You just need to get your name out to draw in customers. For this type of marketing, you’re just mainly trying to get your name out. You want your customer to consider you. However, they can’t do this if they don’t know who you are.
Your business should comment on community pages. This is another low or no cost way of having an impact. Customers pay attention to community websites. Let your business garner attention through demonstrating you care about your community. This is easy and effective. You could see the impact almost right away.
Post on Facebook Marketplace. If Facebook ads aren’t within your budget, consider putting some sweat equity into making your presence felt in Facebook Marketplace. Once again, the name of the game here is presence. You need your customer to know who you are and what you offer. The decision will be based on your service. If you can occupy some real estate in your desired customer’s mind, you’re already halfway to being their new internet service provider. You know your customer is spending time on Facebook. You should be spending time there too.
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 (like restaurants, barber shops, museums, etc) and get some exclusive offers/ deals. Most businesses are happy to offer 10-20% coupons as well as some freebies in exchange for new customers. You can also include sign-up discounts for your service in the book. You can make this coupon book online/electronically delivered as well (for cheap). Market the coupon book to your potential customers and seek permission to reach out to them for future communication. Just names and email addresses/phone numbers should be good to build a list. Everyone who signs up gets the coupon book for free. You can then use this prospect list to market to as well as on Facebook advertising.
WISP Marketing Tip 6: Use Word of Mouth Advertising
An informal poll online 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. This is a striking figure.
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 which offers a $25 credit to the customers for each referral. They also employ an ‘Ambassador level’ status for customers who leave them a positive review on Facebook and Google. Such customers get an extra $10 or $35 in total for a referral.
Word-of-mouth marketing is relevant at every stage of a company’s growth. It can actually be critical during the early days. So for WISPs, like other small businesses, it becomes all the more important to get the first few customers extremely happy. You can then leverage video marketing/ other digital tools to amplify the good things your customers have to say about your network and services. Basically, use your happy current customers to increase the brand of 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 randomly selected customer. Take their picture and share it on social media! This type of social proof is the exact type of thing a lot of customers.
WISP Marketing Tip 7: Take Advantage of Your Local Radio Station
Almost all rural community-based WISPs employ radio commercials or other forms of advertising on radio channels for their promotion. You can try a variety of messaging including promoting specific seasonal deals and events through radio platforms, including community-based radio stations.
Radio stations have an established method of delivering your message to your potential audience. They are known to be excellent communication tools for rural/suburban communities. These are often areas where many WISPs operate.
Amongst most above the line marketing tools, Radio stations stand out as one of the more cost-effective options. If you live in a state or a region with a lot of local radios, advertising tends to be relatively cheaper and more targeted. Obviously, this is great for WISPs as they expand their service from one to another community.
WISP Marketing Hack #7: Sponsor knowledge-based content!
Apart from traditional campaigns promoting your services, you can work with your local radio providers for trivia or simple call-in quizzes and drive awareness for your brand through such shows.
Pro Tip: Content Marketing
One strategy every WISP should be employing, when it comes to digital marketing, is to invest time and resources in content marketing. Whether it’s your blog, social media platforms, forums, videos or other assets, develop engaging and relevant content. You should be developing content that will be appreciated by your audience. Topics like how-tos, computer safety, parental controls, cybersecurity, and other tips and news articles are good places to start. Such type of content is a great way to develop credibility with your target market. Your community should 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 are considering their internet options. This is a more long-term approach but the value is enormous.
Last, but the most important thing to remember: in marketing, one approach never wins. 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 maintain top of mind recall.
In other words, employing multiple, effective marketing strategies is the key to turning people into customers.
Bonus! Grab some free WISP marketing assets to start promoting your business with!
3 Free Door Hanger Mock-ups with Customizable Templates
Preseem is a one-of-a-kind Quality of Experience (QoE) monitoring and optimization platform for fixed wireless networks. For more information on Preseem or a free 30-day trial, visit Preseem.com.
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