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Kamikaze Marketing 101

Image by Bob Spore

Image by Bob Spore

This post is by Robert Spore, photographer and creative services

We are not “businessmen,” per se. We are in the creative department, which means that we’re a little mad, perhaps, and that our thought process is…maybe a bit skewed. What I’m trying to say is that maybe we have the complete wrong spin on this. (Okay…enough with the editorial “we.” It’s giving me a headache). Maybe the accidental dip into the business section should be excused as one of those vagaries of life which is better swept under the carpet and completely ignored.

We were vastly amused (and by amused, I mean shocked to the point where we spat our morning coffee all down the front of our madras slacks) while reading an article (republished from Bloomberg) in the Akron Beacon Journal with the title, “Time Warner Cable to Squeeze More Profit From Fewer Users.

The article itself didn’t hold any surprises. It’s something we’ve all come to expect in these leaner times; companies charging a bit more for services to make up for a shrinking customer base. Nothing shocking here, just something that makes you shake your head in weary resignation.

No, the rapid eye blinks of disbelief came with the line: “Time Warner Cable is also less worried about losing subscribers, so long as it squeezes more profit out of the ones who are left.” This translates to: “Heads up, die-hards…you’re about to get soaked!

“The idea is to boost average revenue per user, rather than trying to attract more customers,” said Chief Operating Officer Rob Marcus. Which means (as far as I can ascertain) that they will be promoting company growth by…not…growing…apparently. Novel concept.

And this is even with a sales rise of 6.6%, plus a share rise of $1.41 (better than the projected $1.37), up to 15% from last year, using the obviously antiquated method of attempting to attract new customers with, oh…I don’t know…something called sales incentives.

But hey…why do that when you can treat your existing customers as if they’re a captive audience?

Could you see if we tried that? “You want a 50-word news release? No problem. That’s part of our basic package. You will need to sign this 2-year contract, realizing that most of the client contract will go through someone in terra Del Fuego, named after either ‘Dave’ or ‘Mary’ from the local ‘English as a Second Language’ Center, and if you want a face-to-face meeting with an AE, it’ll be at our convenience and will happen anytime within an 8-hour window. That’ll be $8,000. And correct spelling is not bundled with that.”

TWC noted a “Muted reaction.”

Gee, I wonder why. You ever wonder what kind of reaction you’ll get once the disbelief wears off?

Oh, and Time Warner just announced that they’ve hired former AOL CFO Arthur Minson as their new CFO, with a base salary of $900,000. That’s base salary, boys and girls.

But, perhaps my feelings about this are all “much ado about nothing.” I admit that I am not a businessman, preferring the madness prevalent in the art side over that of the business side. This type of decision might be considered de rigeur by the business world and I don’t realize because I’m just not business savvy enough.

It’s like when my friend Seanachai laughed at my “Ohio-based bucolic naivete” when I mentioned how hard it was to believe the blood-thirstyness of the characters in ‘Game of Thrones’ and he began to lecture me on the similarities between that and the English ‘War of the Roses.’ At least I think that’s what he said. I began to nod off at some point.

If this is true, you have to admit that at least it’s a gutsy move to actually say out loud that your new business profile is to eschew new income and just stick it to your existing, loyal customers.

But this is just my opinion…your mileage may vary.


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