The one constant in the cable business is that it is always changing — and with that comes both new opportunities and challenges. At the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, we have been keeping pace with these changes and have made it our business to adapt right along with the industry.
So now, it’s time to let everyone know how different we look today and where we are heading in the future.
As marketing takes its rightful place as an essential function in today’s competitive environment, CTAM has greatly expanded its mission. While we continue to advance consumer and business-to-business marketing excellence, and bridge marketing and technology, we’ve also aided critical, national consumer marketing campaigns — or more simply, we’re focused on helping cable grow.
As CTAM chair, I see our phenomenal volunteer leaders living the organizational vision, responding to industry needs and laying the groundwork for cable marketing’s future. We boast the industry’s best educational conferences, networking opportunities, awards and consumer research, and 17 chapters to educate executives at the local level. We’ve had a tremendous year and plan to continue our role as a pathfinder to the future.
CTAM has three overarching goals. The first goal is to facilitate and manage cooperative marketing initiatives designed to help industry companies grow their businesses.
CTAM plunged into cooperative marketing in 2003 to drive awareness of cable’s unique advantages: on demand, HDTV and high-speed Internet. The co-op’s objectives include driving viewership of participating networks’ key programming initiatives and connecting with high-impact consumer-electronics partners to drive sales.
In early 2004, a unified group of chief marketers from the top 13 MSOs launched the second national advertising campaign supporting the much-publicized “Only Cable Can” brand. This “Cable Is Better Than…” advertising stood out amidst the clutter and urged customers to learn more at our Web site (www.onlycablecan.com) or by calling a toll-free phone number, (877) ONLY-CABLE. More than a dozen network partners will continue to run ads through the end of the year.
Another CTAM achievement in cooperative marketing is the Cable Movers Hotline. Cable systems serving more than 107 million homes passed are participating in the Hotline, and the Go2Broadband-powered system has managed hundreds of thousands of customer mover calls this year.
Building on the momentum established with Only Cable Can, the CTAM Retail Committee also managed consumer electronics/retail promotions for HDTV. We partnered with Samsung around March Madness; Panasonic during the Olympics; Samsung and INHD for a cable-exclusive concert series; and Sony during the football season. HSN partnered with cable companies and Only Cable Can in July, holding the first-ever 24-hour “sell-in” for laptop computers and high-speed Internet service.
In 2005, we will add new projects to this arsenal, including a CTAM Retail Operations Committee. This will create more opportunities in the retail-sales channel and make it easier to do business with cable.
CTAM will also facilitate a groundbreaking consumer communications and public-relations campaign for advanced services. With cable’s unique products in place, bundled services a reality and united competitive messaging so powerful, it’s the perfect time to implement a communications plan to support our marketing success.
The second CTAM goal is to offer members unequalled, first-class education and information-exchange opportunities for strategic learning and business development. CTAM has historically excelled in this area, with the well-attended and substantive Summit, the sought-after Mark Awards, Hall of Fame and case-study competitions, and the much-heralded CTAM Research Conference. We also conducted the prestigious CTAM Educational Foundation Executive Management Program at the Harvard Business School for a sold-out crowd, and our first Customer Care Forum was held in November to assist cable companies in improving customer service.
Looking forward to 2005, we’ll release results from the second wave of CTAM’s Tracking Study of Consumer Viewing Habits. In turn, the CTAM Summit will expand to encompass Digital and Broadband, and we’re adding some “hot topic” one-day meetings to the roster, such as “Program Promotion in an On Demand World.”
CTAM’s third goal is to continue to serve as the highly valued bridge between the exploding technology world and marketing, as they come together to develop, deploy and market cable products. We kicked off 2004 with a Consumer Electronics Show Tour for MSO and program-network leaders and will do so again in January 2005. With cable Commercial Services a burgeoning business, CTAM gathered those leaders together for a seminar in May. We will also publish an e-newsletter and conduct a series of Webcasts — all designed to support learning and share best practices.
In its second year, the CTAM On Demand Consortium delivered consumer-tested recommendations for improving VOD user interfaces, supplied the industry with metrics guidelines and deployed a diverse public-relations campaign to raise awareness and promote On Demand services. Next year, the On Demand Consortium will incorporate digital video recorders and ITV into its mix of products.
After the On Demand model, we plan to launch a Broadband Consortium, which will assist marketing efforts in the high-speed Internet and broadband content arenas. And you’ll see cable phone coming to the forefront as the CTAM Telephone Committee, established in mid-2004, provides a venue for executives to explore effective ways to develop and market IP telephone services.
In conclusion, cable marketing is moving to the next level. And, CTAM, serving as the infrastructure of industry collaboration, is following suit. We intend to make an indelible mark in the competitive landscape and be rigorous in our efforts to win the hearts and minds of consumers.
As the organization dedicated to helping cable grow, we will super-size our efforts to support our members and their businesses in a way that only CTAM can.