By Kara Sherrer
Vanderbilt’s Accelerator®—Summer Business Institute is a four-week certificate program for college students and recent graduates that combines classroom learning with real consulting projects. Last week, students created marketing strategies for Google Fiber, a “super-fast” internet provider available in 10 cities and counting.
The Client: Google Fiber promises “Faster, Fairer, Kinder” access to Wi-Fi, TV channels, and phone service. Fiber is seeking to disrupt other providers, such as Comcast and Xfinity, with fast service and no hidden fees. Google Fiber provides straightforward contracts and speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second. The service originally launched in Music City in 2015 and expanded to even more Nashville neighborhoods in 2017.
The Project: Google Fiber has identified multiple key groups of potential customers. One of the most challenging groups is not particularly tech- or internet-savvy but is rather price-sensitive, which can make it difficult to encourage this segment to switch providers to Google Fiber. Representatives from Google Fiber tasked Accelerator students with devising marketing strategies to convince prospective customers in this group living in the Nashville area to sign up for Google Fiber service.
The Presentations: The target market generally falls in the 35-55 age range and often have children of their own, prompting students to propose a variety of family-friendly, nostalgia-themed event marketing concepts. Several teams recommended hosting decade-themed block parties in neighborhoods with Google Fiber service, incorporating food trucks, raffles, and other fun activities. Others suggested hosting movie nights or pool parties in apartment complexes, or coordinating 5K races in Google Fiber neighborhoods.
I’m just blown away by the talent you all have shown here today – Alan Mitchell, Google Fiber
Given that not every neighborhood in a city has access to Google Fiber, teams utilized a range of location-targeting marketing tactics to make sure they were reaching consumers who could actually purchase the service. These ideas included putting doorhangers on individual houses and shipping welcome gifts (such as Fiber-branded jigsaw puzzles) to addresses in Fiber neighborhoods.
Many teams also took the “kinder” part of Google Fiber’s model to heart and recommended marketing initiatives that could raise awareness of Fiber while simultaneously giving back to community. These ideas included coaching seniors on basic digital literacy tasks, creating Wi-Fi hotspots in important community areas, and offering high-speed internet to local schools.
The Feedback: “I’m just blown away by the talent you all have shown here today,” said Alan Mitchell (MBA’16), Product Marketing Manager at Google Fiber. “It’s super impressive, the research and the attention to detail (you all provided). I know that I strategically didn’t give you that much to work with, to see what you could come up with, and you all found a way to (deliver) the information I was looking for.”
“You all made really logical tie-ins to some of the other work Google is already doing,” he added.
Looking back over the entire course of Accelerator, Dean M. Eric Johnson also praised teams for how far they have come in the past four weeks. “I’ve watched some of your presentations, and the progress is always staggering to me, and I think it really shows this morning (in the presentations),” he said.