While most mobile telecom providers are shouting about the strength of their networks and pricing, Visible is talking to consumers about their experience as a wireless customer — and how it can be better.
“Our mission is to bring the convenience and simplicity of direct-to-consumer, subscription-based models to the wireless industry,” Visible's chief marketing officer, Minjae Ormes, told The Drum. “We want to build a brand, and an affinity for it, in such a way that our members stay with us because they want to, not because they feel they have to.”
That approach to brand building includes Visible’s ad strategy.
“Most ads for wireless plans are around pricing, and the messaging for pre-paid ranges from lazy to predatory,” said Ormes, adding that her experience outside telco gives a fresh perspective (she was previously global head of partner marketing at YouTube.)
“We want Visible to be a feel-good value choice. As a digital-only provider, we also want to be a choice for the savvy early adopter.”
Visible has been using OOH, search, and social to capture the attention of prospective customers. Its first campaign, '404 Store Not Found', was a play on the well-known error message. The brand took over empty buildings in 10 cities, including Denver, Los Angeles and New York, painted the facades in its brand color, and below printed a prominently placed '404 Store Not Found'.
The outdoor media acted as a cheeky call-to-action sending interested consumers to a campaign landing page.
Another humous OOH activation followed: fake pop-up 'phone stores' with fake products and actors posing as salespeople. A special coin for a 'photo booth' actually led visitors into three upside-down rooms whose themes played on the visible and invisible elements of good versus poor phone services.
“These activations help organically spread the word,” Ormes said. “They give us interesting ways to go where customers are. I didn’t want to lose the stickiness of in-person interactions that stores provide, so the pop-ups are a great way to connect with consumers.”
Visible’s most recent activations include a transparent 'Music Box' mini outdoor recording studio at SXSW and bus shelter takeovers in Los Angeles, which launched today (15 March). At the Music Box, amateur and professional singers and musicians could jam to karaoke or their own tune and leave with a recording of the performance.
Playing off the tagline “Phone service from anywhere,” the bus shelter activation transforms the bus shelters into either an arena, bathtub, movie theater, or ski lift.
These activations help to build the brand, but also help to tell the brand story, said Ormes.
“We’re still in the brand building stage, where storytelling is essential,” she said, adding that, ultimately, Visible’s customer experience is what will retain customers that the advertising helps to bring in.
"We have no contract, so every day we have to think about that experience and how we can do better.”
Not surprisingly, Ormes’ personal mission is to put customers at the forefront of everything Visible does: “how we communicate with members, the way we engage with them for product development and testing, surprise-and-delight moments, etcetera.”
All of that customer centricity has a side benefit: community. Visible already has nearly 8,000 followers on Instagram, for example, and there’s a small group of members on Reddit who created their own badges.
“Watching this organic community build up around a phone service, I thought, ‘This is interesting and needs to be nurtured',” Ormes said. “At the core, we’re selling a $40-a-month unlimited phone plan and hotspot. Usually, that kind of service only gets talked about when it doesn’t work.”
So, Visible started working with Instagram influencers who “live their lives on their phones” to help grow that community, she added.
While Ormes builds community with members, she’s also doing a great deal of building internally: culture, team, and technology.
“That’s why I couldn’t say yes to this opportunity quickly enough,” said Ormes, who’s been in her current role for about a year — slightly ahead of the brand’s launch. “I wanted a seat at the table to infuse brand values into everything we do; to show that you can take a different approach — one that’s focused on authenticity and customer centricity — and still be a leader.
Ormes believes her job “is bigger than marketing" – and her outsized enthusiasm and broad expertise makes her perfectly suited to take on the challenge.