So last Christmas we bought a high-end digital camcorder that is gradually collecting dust as we try to decipher how to convert and edit the video. And our friends over at Plaid have a simple $150 Flip camera that, well, actually makes it easy to record life. Like their agency creatives chucking pumpkins off a roof (we heard they were really, really angry at a client).
This points out two trends in technology — on one end, we get higher orders of complexity, of computer operating systems such as Vista that do everything but don’t quite work, of bloated software, 1,000 cable channels, BMW iDrives, overwhelming us with choice. On the other, we get simple tools downstream, like the camera on your cell phone that you actually use, or the sweet little Twitter that suddenly connects you to the world.
We’re going to buy a Flip. Lesson learned. Now will someone please simplify our damn TV remote.
Bless you, Sprint. This battered cell provider is stepping up to the plate with a new, mind-slappingly easy $99.99 Simply Everything plan that makes it worth your while to switch. Is your current bill more than $150 a month? Switch to Sprint and you’ll save $600 a year — more than enough to cover that nasty termination fee.
The brilliance of all this isn’t the math, but Sprint’s movement away from fancy creative to a plainspoken CEO, Dan Hesse, explaining the facts: Here’s our idea: You get to use the phone for all the great things it can do without worrying about the meter running. Sure, it’s not as beautiful as Sprint’s spots last year in which puppeteers with flashlights turned night scenes into streaking displays of color. But apparently U.S. consumers didn’t “get” the message that they needed a faster, brighter cell network. What they really want is a bill that makes sense.
Sprint’s promotion is gutsy because it recognizes that consumers aren’t in love with cell providers due to technology — we simply hunger for a commodity payment plan to underwrite our wireless gadgets. Sprint also has the guts to tout a price plan in mass media knowing full well that millions of current Sprint customers, paying much more, will dial back in and renegotiate. They’ll be loyal but surely less profitable.
There is a lesson here for any subscription service or home service provider. Inside your organization you may have thousands of people working to build cell phone towers or deliver dry cleaning or pump heating oil, and you probably work overtime to train call service reps on quality service. But most of your customers don’t see what goes on inside operations. They simply get a bill, and they want one that they can understand.
It ain’t sexy. But Sprint got this one right.
Hat tip to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for a clear message.