The Countdown to Disappointment: Sprint has a lot to learn about generating hype

by Matt Klassen on November 24, 2015

Last week Sprint tried its hand at generating a little market hype, posting an intriguing countdown clock that promised an industry-changing announcement at the end, something on par with T-Mobile’s UnCarrier promotions we’ve seen of late.

But while T-Mobile has hit more times than it has struck out with its promotions recently, the same can’t be said for Sprint, as what was waiting for customers at the end of the countdown was exactly the same discount promotion the company offered last year.

Instead of shaking up the industry though, Sprint took the easy route, aiming at the lowest common denominator when it comes to marketing, price, offering yet another 50 percent off deal for new customers who leave any of the top three carriers. While half price mobile is certainly nice, the fact that the company employed a countdown clock to show us something we’ve already seen before just goes to show how much Sprint has to learn about generating hype and offering true value, not to mention how much it has to learn about giving competitors endless Twitter fodder.

Last year Sprint rolled out its “cut you bill in half” deal, promising customers exactly that if they transferred over from AT&T or Verizon. The only difference this year, given that T-Mobile has surpassed Sprint to become America’s third largest wireless provider, is that the UnCarrier is included now too.

If you trade in your smartphone and head to Sprint’s promised land of poor coverage and disappointing promotions, the company says it will cover up to $650 in “switching costs,” that is, helping pay your onerous early termination fees. Not only that, but the company will honour the half-off discounted rates until 2018.

But put aside the fact that Sprint has more fine print than actual print–offering some important insights like the fact customers switching from AT&T and Verizon may be subject to stiff data overage fees, or that customers on T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan are not eligible at all for Sprint’s deal–this entire countdown and discount is a huge let down, as price is about the last thing Sprint should be worrying about right now.

As The Verge’s Chris Welch writes, “Pricing isn’t Sprint’s real problem; it’s the network. This company still isn’t in a place where it can truly (and consistently) compete with Verizon or AT&T in coverage and data speeds, nor does it offer any of the perks that are drawing people to T-Mobile.”

Not only is competing on price the absolute easiest thing Sprint could have thought of, it’s one of the least effective as well, as the entire history of business has shown that while customers can be lured by savings, they’re attracted (and thus more loyal) to true value, the sort that solves customer problems, alleviates headaches, and eliminates red tape (the sort that we’re seeing from T-Mobile)…and the sort that doesn’t include a gimmicky countdown clock.

As DisruptiveViews guest blogger Jonathon Gordon writes, “The fact that Sprint’s big, wait for it, announcement – #SprintCountdown, was simply price competition is frankly disappointing. Differentiation on price, is a lose-lose for the whole industry – and customers will eventually pay the price in terms of quality and lack of innovation.”

The long and short of it is this: T-Mobile gets the modern digital lifestyle, the fact that people want simplicity and the appearance of value (even if cost savings aren’t actually part of it), Sprint clearly does not.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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