Strange to think a company with 50-million-plus customers and a lock on the #3 position in an industry needs saving, but wireless carrier Sprint is unique. Whether through bad luck or design, it is unable to build any momentum - every step forward seems to be paired with at least one (if not more) backward. For each month this continues, Sprint increases its risk of being hunted from below.
The Nextel merger produced a near-bottomless pit of pricing and customer care issues. Pivot, Clearwire, iPCS, iDEN…the list of distractions seems endless. Each quarterly report yields more bad news than the one before. In 2008’s third quarter, Sprint lost another million wireless consumers, putting it down nearly 10% from last year.
Device & Other Partnerships
The cellular industry is confusing to a sizable portion of consumers who don’t really know (or care?) about the differences between Motorola and Verizon, for example. The hype over iPhones and BlackBerries and Androids makes it ever more difficult for Sprint to grab mindshare. Who is going to be Sprint’s Apple? Is Samsung the ticket? Any more NFL-like tricks up the sleeve?
It’s been reported that Sprint is intentionally jettisoning “bad” customers. If it is that good at value modeling, then Sprint should be able to implement a more targeted marketing strategy by creating a nice list of high-value “look-alikes,” millions of prospects it could pursue with some hard-working direct marketing (and, hopefully it would not churn them days later).
Hesse’s TV Tour of NYC
OK, Dan, you’ve hit all the top spots - from the Meatpacking District to the Empire Diner. But the gray hue and your drab nature create zero emotional resonance. Dave Thomas did a better job building excitement around 99-cent baked potatoes. You are a highly capable CEO, and no doubt a nice man, but it’s time to step away from the camera and let the professionals craft the story of how Sprint is the future of cellular communications - massive amounts of data delivered to your hand.
Focus. Quality (not quantity) channel partnerships, a compelling campaign about the “data future,“ and less spray-and-pray marketing.
The closing of 11 customer service centers this year might be a positive sign. But shareholders shall not rest until real results are apparent.
Sprint is definitely in a sprint now.