MIA Judging Day 3 - Don't listen to your customer

MIA Judging Day 3 - Don't listen to your customer

Going beyond the obvious and coming up with something that flies, fast, is a challenge. On Day 3 of the Mobile Industry Awards Judging it was distributors who took the floor.

All the combatants in today's categories have had to show the judges innovation and performance improvement. Ideas that work, you could say.

With no inference as to the winners, here are some ideas that caught the eye:

EE partner programme – EE had a massive communication challenge over the last 18 months maintaining the familiar Orange and T-Mobile brands but convincing its customers to connect to the new entity. One distributor's answer was to form a partner programme on the network's behalf and invite dealers to nail their colours to the EE mast, supporting them with training and elite commercials. It worked.

Exclusive products – retailers and operators seem to be cool on exclusive handsets these days. But some disties are still flying the flag and making their customers look good. Take the business MD who wants an iPhone, but doesn't want to extend that generosity to his staff. Sourcing your own high spec, high value smartphone is a nice USP that will still put a smile on his employees' faces.

Another cool exclusive was the sourcing of a wrisband communicator for parents to keep in touch with their kids when they are out and about, even if it's only to buzz them that it's time for tea.

Helping the customer change things up – too much chopping and changing of staff was preventing a catalogue-based retailer from joining up the dots with cross selling. Going to the client and pointing out last year's shortcoming was a brave move, but enabled one shortlisted company to propose taking control of two product lines to boost sales.

Security – IT security has never been a sexy sell, and mobile security is no easier. Like personal pensions, it's something that's all too easy to put off thinking about until later. Some distributors were more long-sighted lining up top notch mobile security products, and bundling them at low cost. After heartbleed, the timing looks impeccable. Some are also bundling parental security software for families to screen what tablet wielding tots can be exposed to. Another nice seller.

Child tracking writsbands - The Guardian

The Guardian shows a demo of a child monitoring wristband
from this year's CES show.

Payments – cash is king and credit is a close second. Several players innovated on both fronts with faster payments and sourcing competitive credit for their partners to help fund expansion. There was financial engineering in evidence, such as a salary sacrifice scheme to allow staff to order top quality products at a fraction of the normal cost.

What joins several of these ideas up is it is about selling products through, not selling them in. And it's working. A few years ago, there were a lot of glum faces in distie land. It's still a tough place to be, but the companies we saw today are making it work. They are getting traction because they are thinking, not just of their customer, but their customer's customer. And it's enabling them to solve problems and add value – all of which is paying off at the bottom line.

These companies have responded to a business challenge. How about you? What's your company doing...

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