What should be the level of marketing knowledge of an MVNO?

We, at R Systems, are often approached by various organizations being interested in starting an MVNO business or already running MVNOs that look at further investments in MVNO technology. Many are asking directly about the technical capabilities and pricing. We translate such requests in two scenarios: either they are in the learning phase or they are so advanced in their business case implementation that the only need is to select a technology and then kick off. As average, most of them are very early in the learning phase.

We usually assess the MVNO customers interested to acquire technology from two perspectives: marketing and technology. We do this because based on such assessment, we know that they will need a different approach in the pre-implementation phase and we can help them differently.

So what is the actual level of marketing knowledge of an MVNO?

The MVNO may know very well their target market segment or they can be quite vague about that. The vagueness may be caused either by some level of secrecy or by simply not having decided yet which segment will be addressed. If the latter, a good advice for the MVNO representatives would be to make sure they have a clear strategy: segmentation, communication channels, distribution network, and realistic costs. Clear strategy overthrowns technology investment in the case of an MVNO business. A low level of knowledge on the marketing side must be an alarm signal for any party involved.

But there are MVNO representatives with a high level of knowledge on the marketing side. For instance in case of ethnical MVNOs, they know their audience’s habits, the places they prefer, the unique selling proposition, the services which may impact their target audience. They may even know how much budget the users allocate for communication and the level of incentives to be paid to the dealers selling their product.

Usually there are no extremes; the level of marketing knowledge can be at any point between low and high. This can be assessed by the MVNO itself by simple questions such as:

  • How large is our target market?.
  • What is the realistic market share we can achieve from our target market?.
  • Which is the most efficient communication channel to reach them?.
  • What are the costs associated to our communication strategy?.
  • Is our target audience already addressed with similar services by other MVNOs?.
  • How can we differentiate? Why will anyone buy our product?.
  • Who will sell? Why would they sell my product?.
  • How much is the cost of selling to these potential users?.

If you are considering investing in an MVNO, ask yourself the above questions. Try marking from 1 to 10 for the level of certainty in your answers. If you do not know the answers with certainty you may need to look for some help from a business consultancy company or invest own energy in this.

Perhaps you just have a good idea but you do not know yet how this will work out. You still want to try it out, obviously by investing as little money as possible. From our previous experience, without a clear marketing strategy MVNOs have fair chances to fail. You may be lucky or simply visionary and this may work out well but sooner or later you still need to answer those questions. The sooner the better for the long term benefit of your business.

You can read more about this in our whitepaper “When should an MVNO invest in technology”. Throughout the whitepaper we created 4 MVNO categories based on the level of knowledge in marketing and technology (The Rookie, The Market Expert, The Technologist and The Sophisticated) and for each category we made recommendations in regards to their priorities, emphasizing:

  • How they should deploy their MVNO.
  • How technology vendors can help each category of MVNOs.
  • What could be the expected level of accuracy of any budgetary offer for each category.
  • What are the technical elements with the biggest impact on a budgetary quotation.
  • What are the main factors to consider before deciding to invest in technology.

Download the whitepaper here.

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