By Arunas Slekys, Vice President, Corporate Marketing & General Manager, Russia/CIS
If you’ve ever been far enough north to witness the amazing sight of the Aurora Borealis—the northern lights dancing across the night sky—you’ll understand why the Cree Natives call it the “Dance of the Spirits.” Named after the Roman goddess of dawn, the Aurora is like a hypnotic light show. It’s electric—full of energy and impact, connecting people to the enormous power of nature. Which is why we chose it as the backdrop in our corporate ad this year—it’s a perfect metaphor for Hughes, because we’re all about connecting people around the world. It’s why we do what we do.
Why, How, and What
Indeed, as Simon Sinek explains in his book entitled Start With Why, all companies know the “what” and “how” of their products and services, but few the “why.” His message is that unless the buyer understands and shares in the company’s values and beliefs, the buying decision is usually driven by “lowest price wins.” Here’s the difference: Do you mostly buy something because you think it’s the “best,” or because you think the company making that something is the “best”?
Knowing a company’s reason for being—beyond the advantages and benefits of its products and services—influences people in a far more profound way, elevating the buying decision to be one based on trust, credibility, and value, instead of price alone. Which is where Hughes marketing communications comes in—to create compelling and uniform messaging about not just our superb technology, product, and service offerings, but also about who we are and why we do what we do.
New World Pied Pipers
So what’s our game plan to get out the story of Hughes? Most people are familiar with traditional marketing communications functions of branding, public relations, advertising, shows/events, and Web sites—all of which we do. But today there’s a new world of collaborative electronic media such as blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook that’s taking over the airwaves and capturing enormous mindshare around this ever-shrinking planet of ours. So-called social media has exploded onto the scene as a product of the combined Internet, wireless, and broadband revolutions that have fundamentally redefined communications—changing the paradigm from predominately one-to-one connections between people to one-to-any collaborations among people.
Just think about it: Anyone with a broadband connection, whether fixed or mobile, can instantly create an affinity group around any subject matter of interest and gather a following. Talk about a world of personal Pied Pipers—and you too can do it! In fact, 75 percent of the world’s news and ads today are available on the Internet, with literally trillions of video and data transactions being shared each second across the planet. And as we’ve recently witnessed during uprisings in the Middle East and the tragic disaster in Japan, much of it is generated by individuals either live on the scene or as active observers and commentators. Whether it’s breaking news or about some latest product or TV show, social media has itself become a force for change. Not surprisingly, tapping into it to better connect with constituents has become a priority for progressive companies and organizations of all kinds—and is especially important for Hughes, since our business is about connecting people.
Staying Close to Customers
Recognizing the reach and power of social media, last year we launched an outreach campaign on Facebook and Twitter for our HughesNet consumer service where topics about speed, reliability, and support are tracked daily to ensure we build rapport with our customers and respond to their needs. Our job to stay close to customers also meant upgrading all of our Web sites across the globe to ensure that we’re speaking their language. Just click on www.hughes.com and you’ll find an interactive, image-based, and easyto-navigate architecture that quickly connects customers to what they want to see and that is responsive to their inquiries.
And who better to tell our stories than our customers? Our library of customer success stories grew last year by more than 40 HughesTV videos covering all market sectors around the globe—augmenting our Channels and Competitive Edge newsletters that reach in excess of 10,000 subscribers. These stories highlight the enormous positive impact of Hughes technologies and services in connecting people—from helping to close the digital divide by bringing high-speed satellite Internet service to over half a million consumers and small businesses across North America; to distance learning via thousands of HughesNet Fusion kiosks in rural India; to e-governance and GSM backhaul services in the Amazon; to enabling governments with telework and emergency preparedness solutions; to providing a wealth of managed services to some of the world’s largest enterprises. And they’re all available with just a few clicks.
Although electronic media and the Web are powerful ways to communicate, nothing can take the place of face-to-face interaction, listening to our customers, and exhibiting the latest in Hughes products and solutions. Last year Hughes participated at more than 80 events—the most ever—where we connected with thousands of potential and existing customers and partners. As an industry leader, Hughes shares our expertise by exhibiting and speaking at major industry shows such as Satellite2011, Via Satellite’s annual forum which had over 10,000 attendees this year, and at more modest events held in geographic regions where we do business.
Additionally, Hughes attends and often hosts targeted vertical sector events—because there’s no better way to know customers than to cloak ourselves in their clothes—covering everything from restaurant and retailer forums, to international workboat shows, to electricity grid conferences. Most of these are held in our own service business markets of North America, Europe, India, Brazil and now China, augmented by regional seminars held annually in Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Middle East/Africa, and Russia/CIS countries. Next time you visit one, check out the high-definition screens showing videos of customers using Hughes products and services— it’s the optimal formula to get our story out—up close and personal, reinforced by electronic means. But then travel budgets don’t always support face-to-face interaction, which explains why we also organize interactive Webinars addressing specialized topics such as Communications-onthe-Move (COTM) and Continuity of Operations (COOP). These are especially popular in the Government and Defense communities, letting people sign up for a session at a time and attend from their desktops. Better to connect with them electronically than not at all.
Looking to the Sky
Our passion at Hughes is about discovery and innovation—it underlies everything we do. To connect people is our “why”—with the best technologies, products, and services we can conceive. We need only to look skyward and let the energy and impact of the Aurora Borealis inspire us to ever greater heights.
Thank you to all our readers and contributors. I welcome comments or input about Channels, HughesTV, or any other Hughes marketing communications initiatives.