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MVNOs World Congress
The Event LoungeBrussels, Belgium

24-26 June 2024

Vive la difference! Five questions MVNOs need to ask when developing a differentiated proposition

Life would, as the saying goes, ‘be boring if we were all the same’. In the MVNO space, it would also be pretty unprofitable. Differentiation in proposition is key for prospective MVNOs seeking to enter the market and existing MVNOs wishing to expand their offer. When done right, it speeds up time to market and increases the likelihood of success.

Leading with a differentiated proposition is a smart way to do business – as it will keep you in business! Copying the market (and, in particular, the mobile operators) will ultimately bring the shutters down. Innovations that offer customers new and novel ways to make their lives easier is a better place to be than in the middle of a price war. And let’s face it, when it comes to cost, an MNO with an appetite to win will always have the capacity to offer services at a cheaper rate.

So how can you make sure you’re creating the right conditions for a truly differentiated proposition? In this post, I’ll share the five questions that are the most effective based on my experiences of helping MVNOs successfully develop propositions that sell. I’ll also be inviting you to join me at MVNOs World Congress where I’ll be running a masterclass on this topic.

How do you want to differentiate?

Strategically, it’s important to be clear on how you want to differentiate. Whether it’s quality of service, price or uniqueness of offering – such as how supermarkets and banks are integrating mobile into their core business to drive wider customer value, this will set the tone of how you develop your proposition and who you’re going to target.

One point of note on price is that whilst the fact about MNOs generally winning when it comes to service costs is true, there is still a window of opportunity for MVNOs. Back in the day it was all about “low cost MVNOs” but now smart MVNOs are driving customer value in different areas. This might look like:

  • Value-added services
  • Cross-funding such as multi-play or supermarket offers
  • Addressing customer pain points such as roaming costs and deploying e-SIM roaming

A key component of differentiation is using your uniqueness to develop something your competitors can’t replicate. So, if you are a retailer with a huge store footprint, this can be leveraged for distribution and adding value. If you are a travel money company that knows when your customers will be travelling, this can be leveraged via a roaming e-SIM proposition - see the Revolut example in Point 4 .  

What is the customer appetite?

The existing customer base or market that you want to target is never one amorphous mass, so it’s important to get into the detail of who your customers are and their likelihood to want any new services that you plan to offer. Some of the greatest value that we’ve brought to our engagements is helping MVNOs to segment the market or their customer base to pinpoint groups of customers that will be open to the proposition.

Something that we typically uncover at this stage is that an organisation doesn’t have quite the right customer or market data to make a truly informed decision. This leads us to moving on to the next stage of customer discovery:

What do your customers think and feel?

Forget segmenting customers by age and geographic location. Saying your target market is ‘Millenials in Milton Keynes’ will not cut it! Some of the biggest successes I’ve seen, and been involved in, are when attitudinal market segmentation is applied. Attitudes to what you plan to offer will vary from household to household and the GenZ who actively seeks out BCorp certified organisations may well be a very different animal from the one who documents their life on BeReal.

What’s interesting to note is that attitudes and values tend not to change with age. So, if you can pinpoint what the market or your customers truly care about, and serve them with a relevant offering, they’re more likely to stay loyal and to recommend you.

These types of insights can be the launchpad for MVNO services that challenge traditional MNO offerings, disrupt the market, lift NPS scores and…make money!

What does the technology need to deliver?

An offering without the underpinning technology is just an idea, but it is a mistake to take a technology-first approach to proposition creation. This constrains thinking and can cause us to forget that technology is an enabler rather than the end product.

Taking a customer-first approach works as a great reminder that your target market doesn’t care about LTE, VoLTE, OSS etc…. What they care about is something like finding a smart way to access fee-free currency exchange when overseas. If you check out Revolut, you’ll find exactly this example plus an illustration of an organisation that’s leveraged telecoms to differentiate and add value to their core services (with no mention of the underpinning technology).

Having belief and commitment to your proposition will lead to a more compelling customer-first business case – when it comes to the technology, you can always find a way!

Where do we need help?

When you’re developing a new proposition that’s potentially breaking new ground, part of the process is identifying where you have gaps. So, whether it’s tackling your technology stack, or realising you’re just scratching the surface of customer segmentation, I highly recommend that you reach out for expert help.

Bear in mind too that maturity matters – new-entrant MVNOs will benefit by looking for inspiration and support from more mature markets, whereas existing MVNOs may just want discrete services that are outside of their immediate portfolio. The key thing is that no matter where on the maturity scale you sit, there will be people and organisations that can help.

Ready to make a difference?

For a deep dive into why success comes from a differentiated proposition, join me at MVNOs World Congress where I’ll be running a series of masterclasses. Book now.