Optus: We've stood still as Telstra moved forward

Optus marketing boss Mike Smith has conceded Telstra has had the forward energy in the past two years while Optus has been static, but has outlined his new strategy for momentum. 

Smith, who heads up Optus’ newly created, unified Marketing division, told AdNews: “Look at the last few years in the market – Telstra has moved forward. It’s after a long period of decline, so it is not quite back to where it was but the last two years have been good [for Telstra]. Vodafone has had trouble. And we at Optus have stood still.” 

He admitted Telstra’s momentum was a concern. “Telstra has done a few things well,” he said. “It continues to talk about its network. The reality is the network differential is nowhere near the perception. Telstra would spend $20 million to $30 million a year in network messaging to continue to drive that network perception premium. Also, in the last two years it has reduced its prices.” 

Smith said he planned to kick-start the Optus brand by focusing predominantly on existing customers rather than launching aggressive acquisition sprees. 

“For us, if we can build the premium around customers and become known as the place that cares about customers, that does the right thing by customers, that has a rate plan that is transparent, that rewards you for being with us over time, then that brings a different sort of competition to the market. In my view I don’t think Telstra can own that place, because it comes from a best-network position. 

“If I can create a bunch of loyal customers who are strong advocates, then if you are not one of my customers hopefully at a dinner party a conversation will come up and my customers will create a position of envy for you to be in. Then it becomes an acquisition through retention.” 

Optus recently launched a new brand positioning which moves away from the iconic animals towards a more human focus, with the tagline ‘It’s Possible’. The company has also appointed Starcom as its new media agency and reappointed M&C Saatchi after a drawn-out pitch.

This article first appeared in the 7 September 2012 print edition of AdNews. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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