Cutting The Cord: Cable Industry Positioning

How IEN helped the cable industry better position its message to cord cutters.

The Challenge

The cable industry is on a short list of entities consumers love to hate.

The Informed Engagement Network (IEN) was engaged by CTAM, the cable TV and Internet marketing communications consortium, to develop stories that help consumers make smart choices and, in the long run, improve perceptions of the business.

IEN conducted deep digital/social research on consumers to better understand the relationship with the industry. Then IEN went back to the consortium with a recommendation to pivot away from solving ‘perception problems’—and to focus squarely, instead, on a storytelling initiative—aimed at a primary business challenge facing the industry: cord cutting. Millions of cable consumers are canceling their cable TV subscriptions and signing up for new streaming services.

IEN’s research indicated a strong opportunity for the industry to show-up in consumers’ real-time searches. And to provide insights that would, very transparently, help consumers better-understand the pros and cons of various alternatives to cable.

IEN developed a strategy and the resulting content to engage consumers on this super-hot issue  in a transparent, authentic, service-oriented, problem-solving manner—inherently building trust and credibility.

Our Process

Audience Intelligence

IEN started with the consumer. It conducted audience intelligence research to understand how consumers talked about their cable experiences, and their search for alternatives in this transformative digital age.  Surprisingly, in the hundreds of thousands of conversations IEN evaluated online, there was little information representing the industry’s point of view.  A great deal of what did exist was produced by competitors and industry haters.

IEN uncovered two additional key insights:

  • One: The need to capture customers in the decision-making moment and share informative content with them so they could intelligently make the best choice for their households. This meant the industry needed to understand not only when consumers were making their decisions but where and how they were researching —and key drivers of their decisions.
  • Two: The opportunity to elevate specific items of consideration among consumers as they are actively researching the options.

IEN focused its effort on two distinctly different audiences: Movers (where a high percentage of cord cutting happens) and those otherwise considering cord-cutting in their current home. IEN also identified trusted key influencers for these audiences.

Strategic Approach

Based on the audience intelligence insights, IEN developed a content and distribution strategy that met the consumer at key points of consideration – in a transparent and open manner less focused on ‘selling’ something and more designed to meet the consumer in the natural spirit of search. This strategy allowed the industry to participate in the conversation in a way it hadn’t before.

IEN built two content approaches for each of the audiences….  a mix of nine videos, text-based articles, and infographics engineered to answer key concerns of the cord cutting public and to show up at precisely the right moments in the consideration process.

One of the videos included an in-depth profile of a family planning, or in the midst of, a move. This video and the additional content demonstrated the issues that have to be solved, hidden costs, and the complexities that come with navigating multiple streaming devices.

Several of the videos – underwritten by the industry – offered information for consumers whose best option may, in fact, be to cut the cord. At the same time, these stories educated consumers on the need for high quality internet – so some videos spoke to the value of Gig speed broadband.

IEN leveraged one of the audience’s key influencers, Carley Knobloch, to host the series of vignettes designed to answer well-established questions and concerns.

Results

By pro-actively engaging consumers demonstrating an interest in cord cutting – and doing this in a highly transparent, authentic and informative way – the industry developed trust and credibility with its consumer base.

At the same time, it was able to leverage this moment to advance the importance of Gig speed for anyone moving away from one central cable system – to multiple streaming devices on a single line.

The end result: the industry is now measurably impacting decision making, mitigating losses and providing a needed service to customers.

You can see all the content produced for this effort at smartmove.us/choice.