Wisdom Helps Drive AT&T Digital Sales

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Wisdom Television will donate 13 new Toyota Prius cars as incentives to help AT&T Broadband drive sales for its new digital-cable packages, which launch today (July 1).

Wisdom is among the crop of diginets AT&T has added to its lineup.

Through the "Energize Your Sales" incentive campaign, front-line AT&T sales employees at call centers and payment centers will obtain more chances to win a car as they sell more digital-cable packages. Each region will award one Prius hybrid car, which boasts a fuel-efficient electric motor combined with a gas engine.

The prize fits into Wisdom's positioning as a network dedicated to "Mind, Body, Spirit and Earth," according to Wisdom Media Group senior vice president of marketing and sales Joe Lawson.

AT&T marketers had floated the use of automobiles as a sales incentive to Wisdom, but left it to the programmer to choose the make and model.

"We're glad AT&T allowed us to do an incentive to reinforce our brand," Lawson said.

Toyota Motor Corp. worked with Wisdom to make the 13 cars available immediately, said Lawson. Consumers typically wait three to six months for the popular model, he said.

The expensive effort is not only Wisdom's most aggressive incentive campaign ever, but one of the most dramatic Lawson has seen during his tenure in the industry, he said.

"This is exciting, something people can rally around," added AT&T Broadband of Greater Chicago vice president of communications Patricia Andrews-Keenan. The Chicago-area sales center has a number of seasoned employees, as well as some newer ones, she said.

"Wisdom realizes you really have to do things to get people excited," Keenan said.

In AT&T's central California region, vice president of sales Greg Bell said he plans to send the car to the different sales centers throughout the region, so employees can get a first-hand look at the prize.

"Such a tangible prize can really generate a lot of excitement," Bell said.

Bell also noted that other programmers — including Home Box Office and Showtime Networks Inc. — have also backed the digital relaunch efforts with incentives, such as cash commissions for new sales.

"We're talking about people not necessarily making huge dollars," Lawson said, "so a car can be a big incentive."

EXTRA EFFORT

As an independent network that isn't backed by retransmission-consent muscle and doesn't have the power of a dozen other networks it can use to promote the new name, Wisdom must work harder to strike deals with operators.

"We understand marketing and branding our company and being a good marketing partner is part of the cost of doing business," Lawson said. "It's something we budgeted for."

Lawson is not afraid that other MSOs will hear about the campaign and expect similar treatment from Wisdom.

"I'd be happy if people called us up and said 'We'll launch your network, just give us the same marketing support as AT&T,' " Lawson said.

Wisdom also plans to offer marketing support geared to the needs of individual cable systems.

In Richmond, Va., later this month, Wisdom plans to host neck-massage stations during an AT&T-sponsored "Big Gig" weekend concert event. At the event, expected to draw between 7,000 and 15,000 attendees, Wisdom will also promote healthy living and give away half-day spa treatments at local salons.

"This is a great opportunity and well-timed," said AT&T Broadband of Richmond spokesperson Julia Torres Barden. "This is the perfect front-line opportunity to educate the community about what Wisdom is all about."

Because Wisdom targets a market segment that's never before been addressed through its own network, it can help drive digital-cable sales and fight churn, said Lawson.

Wisdom's distribution target is 7.7 million homes by year-end, he said.

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