YOU ARE AT:OpinionKagan: T-Mobile needs to update its marketing strategy

Kagan: T-Mobile needs to update its marketing strategy

Marketing plays a significant role in the long-term success of any company, product or service. That’s the lesson T-Mobile learned several years ago under then-CEO John Legere. Their new CEO Mike Sievert is continuing the marketing push making big claims about T-Mobile success. Let’s take a closer look at where they actually rank in the industry and why.

First, no doubt about it, T-Mobile is better and stronger than they were a few short years ago. I admire their success. At that time, they were hanging on for dear life. Then Legere was hired, became CEO and began the rebuild. It took several years, but he saw success.

T-Mobile had very little wireless data spectrum. So somehow, they needed to get more spectrum if they wanted to continue to grow.

They tried to merge with Sprint. They tried time and time again, but things kept getting in the way. Then after several years of effort, it finally happened. T-Mobile US and Sprint finally merged.

Sprint spectrum is secret behind T-Mobile success

What T-Mobile needed Sprint for was simply their wireless data spectrum. Sprint had lots of spectrum but didn’t use it well.

–       T-Mobile was a marketer, without spectrum.

–       Sprint had loads of spectrum but could not market.

Together these two have the potential to be great. Now these two companies are one and T-Mobile can sink their teeth into all that juicy Sprint spectrum. That is just what they need to continue to grow moving forward.

Now with all this new spectrum we will get to see what T-Mobile is really made of.

T-Mobile marketing gets in their own way

That’s the good part. The problem is T-Mobile doesn’t let the marketplace understand their accomplishments and congratulate them. They don’t let the marketplace get up-to-speed with what they have done.

Now, by making these over-the-top marketing claims, once again the marketplace is focused on this and not their real victories. I think that is a mistake which T-Mobile continues to make.

True, they may have needed that several years ago when they were dying on the vine and no one was paying any attention to them.

Back then, that marketing strategy may have worked, but now that they are stronger, continuing down this same path makes them look weak. Or maybe trying trying to hide something by distracting us.

T-Mobile marketing is distracting marketplace from real victories

Either way, it’s no longer a solid strategy. They don’t need that anymore. Every marketing strategy must change with the times to be effective. They must adapt over time to changing marketplace positions.

They can’t use the same marketing strategy years later. Time changes. The marketplace changes. So, marketing strategies must change as well to continue to work.

Continuing down this same path makes it look like T-Mobile is unsure of themselves. They are trying too hard to get more attention. Why?

T-Mobile marketing strategy is confusing to marketplace

This marketing strategy is very confusing to the marketplace. They seem to be muddying the waters all over again saying they are bigger and stronger and better than Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility.

There is a reason these are the top two players in the wireless industry. They both have a long history of delivering innovation over decades. They are the long-term industry-wide powerhouses.

Two wireless studies were just published, and they say the same thing. GWS said AT&T has the best wireless network and RootMetrics says Verizon and AT&T are virtually tied at the top.

They also say T-Mobile is still third place. In fact, in some cases Sprint was higher than T-Mobile.

GWS and RootMetrics put AT&T and Verizon on top

In fact, AT&T and Verizon are moving into other areas and preparing for their next wave of growth. As an example, consider how AT&T acquired Time Warner and now owns Warner Brothers Studio, CNN and more. That’s entertainment, news and wireless.

Plus, AT&T TV and Verizon FiOS are heavy hitters in the pay TV space as well.

This shows how these mature communications giants are moving ahead into new markets.

That being said, T-Mobile is faster in several markets where they have begun using Sprint spectrum according to Ookla Speedtest, and that’s a great start for them.

AT&T and Verizon like Warren Buffet CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Remember, it is easy for a small investor to double their small investment. It’s much more difficult for Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, to make the right massive investments and continue to grow. A profit for a small investor isn’t even noticed by Buffett.

That’s the difference between Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Bottom line, I congratulate T-Mobile for their rapid success in the last several years under John Legere. I also expect that success to continue with the Sprint spectrum they just acquired moving forward under Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile can continue to grow under CEO Mike Sievert

I only wish they would let the marketplace learn about and revel in their success. They are losing an important growth opportunity on the current path.

They should revel in their success while continuing to move ahead. Let the marketplace follow you along your journey and be your supporters. That’s always better than trying to push them from behind up the hill.

The problem as I see it is this. By claiming more than they have so far achieved, it takes the spotlight off their real accomplishments to date.

T-Mobile should adapt their marketing angle. It’s not the same world as it was when they were struggling for survival and needed to pound their chest to capture attention.

T-Mobile should act like the company they want to be

Today, they have seen success and that can continue if they play their cards right. Now is the time to change their marketing strategy.

As they mature, it’s about time they started growing into the kind of company they see themselves as ten years from now. However, they should let the marketplace realize this for themselves rather than trying to push this idea uphill.

While I absolutely love to see the progress T-Mobile has made in recent years, the problem many have is why do they keep muddying the water with over-the-top marketing claims?

However, if they want to continue to grow and become a more significant player, they must update their marketing strategy. They are no longer the teeny-tiny-weakling in wireless. Today they are a player.

So, they should let the marketplace see their accomplishments and become more accurate in what they claim with an updated marketing strategy.


Jeff Kagan
Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

Editorial Reports

White Papers


Featured Content