Confusion As Marketing Weapon

Confusion As Marketing Weapon

Verizon creates confusion, AT&T pays the cost!

The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today and other nationally distributed newspapers have enjoyed a watershed of advertising thanks to Verizon’s aggressive attacks on AT&T 3G network coverage areas. For the past several months, as many as three full-page color ads have appeared in single daily editions of the country’s most prestigious – and costly – newspapers.

In the repeating series of ads, AT&T compares its coverage and network performance specs side-by-side to those of Verizon’s, and appears to come out ahead. According to most experts, AT&T, in fact, does have a technology advantage and covers higher numbers of customers within its 3G network areas. Rightly or wrongly, however, Verizon has captured the high ground by sowing confusion among consumers as to which carrier offers better coverage. As a consequence, AT&T is playing nothing but defense in a costly print, broadcast and online advertising campaign.

What is the lesson for other businesses? The superiority of your technology, product or service is not an absolute as far as the market place is concerned. This is especially true if features, advantages and benefits are complex and not readily understood among buyers or decision makers. Within legal limits, your competitors can make all manner of claims in an effort oversimplify, obfuscate or dumb down the selling conversation. When confusion becomes a marketing tactic, the only strategic response is laser sharp focus on clarity and understanding. Make that your strategy from the get-go, and your competitors will never have the option to use confusion against you.

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