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King Of The Hill
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My current comments about this article:

Losing At King Of The Hill

 

Equal Access: Three "Outs" and Your "In"

Have you ever wondered what to do with $3,012 of Opportunity

Calling Credits (OCCs) from AT&T. That's S/W*A*T's dilemma

having recently earned them using AT&T's service in lieu of

reduced rates which Equal Access Carriers offer.

Figuring that it would be a shame to throw away this

opportunity, I eagerly opened the AT&T Opportunity Catalog to

redeem my credits... as well as my sanity after paying the

bill responsible for the credits.

To my dispair, here's what A-D-D-I-T-I-O-N-A-L dollars

S/W*A*T will have to spend in order to realize our $3,012

First, we can spend $11,044 on Federal Express so that we can

apply $3.00 on each overnight door-to-door delivery. Or we

can rent a local Ryder Truck 201 times and receive a $15.00

rebate on each rental (think how many dump runs and cellars

can be cleaned). Then again, we can subscribe to INC

Magazine for 502 years and save six dollars each year

(there's a gift for future generations). Optionally, we can

consume our credit by purchasing 301 Smithfield Virginia Hams

(S/W*A*T would be the talk of Rte.128 if we gave them for

holiday business gifts. giving. Or we can apply a whopping

$500.00 per AT&T Model 6300 personal computer that we buy and

and be stuck with the remaining bill for the purchase of six

machines.

What Opportunity!!! Or better yet, What Opportunity???

Still, day in and day out, on TV, radio and in print, my eyes

and ears are assulted and insulted by Cliff Robertson,

spokesman for AT&T -- and Advertising Age's Spokesperson for

the Year of 1984. Sometimes in his beige suit and sometimes

not, sometimes with chimes sometimes not, Cliff has been

telling me that its election time with respect to electing

AT&T over all Equal Access Carrier... and that I should vote

for the incumbent, AT&T, because I have it so good..

I don't know what the tab is for this concerted campaign, but

I do know that I wish that this money was being funneled back

to me directly, and not indirectly through my sending 1004

overnight letters via Fed Ex.

And personally, the entire AT&T (t)election campaign has

sicken me to the degree that I have pulled the lever in favor

of the EACs

INCUMBENCY

4. Y

o6 A B

Being King of the Hill, like AT&T, is both a powerful

position and vulnerable one. Its easy for Kings to ignore

the covetous challengers, despite seeing them crawl up the

mountain. Somewhat like Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.

Tariff restictions aside, I view AT&T's Opportunity Calling

Credits to be but fiddling around the hard issues which make

the EACs attractive.

For the challengers of such Kings, convential marketing

strategies suggest an oblique position which doesn't fight

the King directly. Unfortunately, that's not possible when

playing King of the Hill where there's but one pinnacle such

as long distance transmission. Consequently it's

fanscinating to watch how directly the EACs are taking the

mountain. They're doing it by the book and numbers.

THREE OUTS

S

A

ˁ灮 This has been no sweat for the

EACs; the King is asleep. If showing up is 80% of

succeeding, then AT&T has already failed 80%. Were it not

for Cliff, it would difficult to tell that AT&T even exists.

偮 While every other EAC has

walked past the "No Soliciting" sign in the entrance of our

building, AT&T ( and yes NET, too) has failed to post an

appearance.

As a result there has been no need for any EAC to outfox,

outguess, or outwit AT&T --- three customary strategies for

taking on the King of the Hill. Consequently, as one who

enjoys a good competitive (t)election campaign, I have found

this one to be a real snoozer. Ironically, AT&T is spending

the money to advertise this (t)election and they are not even

on the ballot, for the EACs consider their real competition

to be other EACs and attempt to outmaneuver them accordingly.

Expected sales production per EAC salesperson... 1 close per

day. There are about 20 EACs. If each EAC has an average of

100 salesperson that's 2,000 closes per day. Quite a ground

swell against the incumbent, AT&T.

Cliff Robertson is a pretty classy guy, but in the absence of

other direct AT&T representation, he's no match for the sales

forces that politely cold call an office building. They're

articulate, knowledgeable and available to serve.

ˁ灮 Professional selling is indeed

serving. Because of its absence, AT&T cannot serve.

Meanwhile, the EACs climb over telephone useage bills, submit

proposals, draw distinction between each others plans and

answer question. And that's only the half of it.

The other half is the services itself. If you ever have seen

an AT&T WATS bill you know that there is absolutely no

breakdown regarding the destination or time of the calls

made. That's because there is no authorization code

security. The EACs have such security and to varying degrees

provide such meaningful management reports. Ironically, in

so doing they allow a customer to retain AT&T's outdated

equipment while still having the advantage of the new

electronic/computer telephones. Telephone equipment

suppliers can't be to happy about this. I guess that it is

safe to say that deregulation has created some interesting

love/hate triangles.

ˁ灮 Here's where the EACs go crazier

than they need to. For once again, the King is actually not

even a part of the bidding. An EAC's main competition is the

EACs down the street. And they all seem compelled to

approach the sale through price. There's a side lesson yet

to be learned by the EACs with respect to this destructive

price chopping; it's that they should never give up more than

they have too. Yet they do.

OUT 'N OUT

T

I

If there is any truth to the Golden Rule, "Do unto

others..." then shortly when the (t)election ballots are

counted, AT&T will find itself more A-L-O-N-E than before

since that's how it left its installed base. And indeed,

more lonely will be the head that wears the crown... the

outcome from being outdone. And that's out and out

outrageous!

Sottile's Winning Action Team
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Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John Sottile