For example, as Sheridan (2003) emphasizes, "When Short Message Service (SMS) was first introduced on mobile phones, it was seen merely as an extra feature that might be used by people on an irregular basis. But in fact, text-messaging turned out to be one of the device's most desirable assets, and is regarded by many as one of the most significant cultural developments of the past decade" (p. xxviii).
Given its enormous popularity, this feature of the company's product line could be refined, for example, to provide instant language translation services into the predominant languages used throughout the European Union. Language translation features, especially Spanish to English, would also be desirable for the company's strategic partner in Mexico, Grupo Iusacell, the country second largest wireless carrier (Business and your money, 2001). Likewise, the existing charges for SMS services could be reduced (or even eliminated), thereby keeping existing customers satisfied while attracting new ones from the company's competitors. In addition, the introduction and expansion of the company's new video conference product that allows up to four users to communicate with each other simultaneously represents another avenue that can help extend the maturity stage for the company's existing product line, and some ways that this can be achieved in the medium-term are discussed further below.
3. Medium-Term Directional Marketing Plan for New Video Conferencing Product.
The company's new video conferencing product is currently state-of-the-art and should find wide appeal throughout its far-flung global market. Like the SMS feature, mobile video conferencing - something that was only readily available in corporate environments - should become incredibly popular, particularly among younger users. According to a company's representative, "This technological breakthrough brings much convenience and flexibility by allowing customers to engage multiple parties in a single video call to have business meetings, as well as get-togethers for family and friends" (Nardi, 2005 p. 2). One of the best ways to help promote this aspect of the company's 3G services is to employ a wide range of marketing techniques in various markets to determine which works best and what cross-cultural factors need to be taken into account in the marketing plan. For this purpose, Paley (2006) recommends considering some of the following marketing activities and service promotions:
Provide consumer promotions consisting of samples, coupons, cash refunds, premiums, free trials, warranties and demonstrations.
Trade promotions include buying allowances, free goods, cooperative advertising, display allowances, push money (incentives), video conferencing and dealer sales contests.
Sales force promotions employ bonuses, contests and sales rallies.
As with the other components of the marketing mix, these promotional initiatives should not be used in isolation. Rather, these techniques should be part of a comprehensive marketing approach that can help:
Identify and attract new buyers.
Encourage more frequent and varied usage of current products.
Motivate trial and purchase of new products.
Educate users and non-users about improved product features.
Suggest purchases of multiple and/or more expensive units of the product.
Win over buyers of competitive products.
Reinforce brand loyalty and purchase continuity.
Create customer enthusiasm and excitement leading to word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals (Paley, 2006 p. 348).
Some of the foregoing techniques would be more appropriate for younger customers, while some might be more effective with older (and elderly) users, particularly those who have yet to make the "mobile phone plunge." For this purpose, demonstrations would be especially appropriate and effective since older people may be reluctant to embrace new technology out of fear or because of the need to learn an entirely new way of using their phone service. Indeed, such product demonstrations have been shown time and again to be one of the most effective marketing techniques available if the product is amenable to such techniques. When these older potential customers can be shown how easily they can use their mobile phones to keep in touch with their family members and friends, though, through text messaging or video conferencing or otherwise, they will likely be swayed. Furthermore, what grandparents can resist a product that allows them to receive fresh pictures of their grandchildren on a regular basis, and video conference with them even though they may be geographically worlds apart. In addition, the largely untapped elderly mobile phone market should be educated concerning the safety benefits of being able to maintain contact with family members, friends or healthcare providers in times of emergency and distress.
Another approach to medium-term marketing for the company's video conferencing product would be to schedule seasonally appropriate advertisements so that potential customers can learn about the ability to see and hear their family and friends on special holidays where such activities are traditional in many countries in the European Union such as Christmas and New Year's. These initiatives could also incorporate any or all of the foregoing approaches for age-appropriate targeted audiences.
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Sheridan, Gavin. 2003, September 15. "What Is 3G Good for? Despite All the Hype, the New Technology Has Been Slow to Attract Users, but Not for Long." New Statesman, 132(4655), xxviii.