Recently, I heard about a new kind of phone company and their PR tactics. Here, Ari Rabban, CEO of Phone.com, www.phone.com, shares his thoughts and insights on success:
Tell us about Phone.com.
Phone.com is a new kind of phone company, Or, as we like to call it, a Phone.Company. We offer innovative services based on VoIP (Voice over IP) and SaaS (Software as a Service) technology. Our target customers are small business owners, home-office owners and mobile professionals (as well as for personal use).
Why did you start the company?
As industry veterans, we witnessed all the “firsts” in voice over IP technology. Alon, our CTO, was the inventor of the first VoIP product (the Internet Phone). I was president of the first “click to call” company and was the marketing and business development VP for the first VoIP company.
The telecommunications industry has come a very long way since those early 90s. VoIP is no longer some niche technology or Internet calling. In fact, most major phone companies use the technology for their own services (such as Verizon FIOS or the phone services brought to you by the cable companies).
Our vision was to focus not on the innovation of the technology (we did that already) but rather learn from all our experience and bring to market a service that is needed and that can gain traction. We have seen innovative services that simply did not make it because they were too early to the market or simply not marketed well.
The target audience for us was the small business owner, the sole proprietor, the start-up people. Most new services focus either on the consumer market (such as the cable offerings, Vonage or Skype) or the enterprise market, but not the very small business market.
Combining our experience with pretty much the best company name in the industry, Phone.com was born. Our business model is simple: offer a service people need, do it very well, make it easy and inexpensive, and pass on all cost savings to the customer.
What was your biggest struggle starting the business, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest struggle was having patience and following a business model that called for revenue and growth (the old-fashioned way). We chose this over a path of free services (in the spirit of other known free Internet services) that sometimes can lead to huge growth and big “Exists” but many more times lead to total, company collapse. Given where the economy led us, the path we chose proved very smart.
Telecom is a regulated business. We work closely with expert telecom regulatory attorneys. And because the services that can be offered utilizing voice over IP technology is still evolving, the regulatory environment is also constantly changing. This requires constant supervision, and we feel happy and lucky to have great attorneys who help us
What kind of successful marketing and PR activities have you done to increase sales?
1. Get the best company domain name possible!
2. Focus on SEO/SEM (search engine optimization and marketing) and…
3. Create a unique referral program. (See ours at http://www.phone.com/products/virtual-number/rewards/)
Why do you think those tactics worked?
People like great value for their money. Budgets are tight. In the telecom industry, people are also used to bad customer service. When you combine a great product with great customer service and offer it in a (no risk) low price, it’s a win for everyone.
We even get thank you notes from customers who leave our service saying they have never dealt with a company that was so nice to them when they called about leaving (and we got referrals from them).
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs starting a business?
Learn from mistakes.
Try and have a mentor.
Go to as many networking events as possible or join a networking group.
Join the online world (whether it’s a social or business network or just subscribe to small business publications, blogs, etc.)
Don’t underestimate the value of a good accountant and lawyer, but don’t let them run your business decisions.
Our company is growing month over month since we launched and adding new products and services every quarter.
Thanks for your tips Ari and congratulations on your success! For more information, visit www.phone.com.
And if you have comments and questions about your PR and SEO copywriting, please feel free to contact me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com! I’d love to hear from you!