The following is an excerpt from a roundtable held recently with 3 of the most influential MSO marketers: Comcast’s Andy Addis, Time Warner Cable’s Brian Kelly and Joe Rooney of Cox. A longer version is included in our CTAM Summit magazine. What could cable marketers be doing better? Addis: I think MSOs need to be able to create scale. We have to learn how to join forces and put a single face on the industry. This will not only attract promotional and marketing partners, but with our limited marketing resources, ultimately make one plus one equal five. Through CTAM we’re working on it, but we need to get better. Rooney: I think game theory – the ability to really understand a competitor and predict behavior – is a skill that is underrated and underdeveloped by most cable marketers. Kelly: We need to better market to our existing customer base and maximize the potential of each current household. Has the rise in number and sophistication of cable products changed marketing? Rooney: This is the golden age of cable marketing. True, our competitors have never been more numerous or aggressive. But we’ve never had so many arrows in our quiver – and not just in terms of products, but marketing tools. That said, we’re going to have to get more sophisticated, target the right home with the right bundle and the right message. We’ve been spraying and praying for too long, sending one message to everyone. That sounds like a plug for data base marketing. Rooney: To an extent it is, sure. But it’s more. It’s about our call centers and how we handle the customer there. We have to give our customer care people the proper tools to get each customer into a bundle of services that will deliver the greatest lifetime value. Addis: I couldn’t agree more. We MSO marketers are going to have to get a lot smarter. It seems that every three months there are important new product developments, and we have to be able to not only understand them, but leverage them. Central to that is making sure that in your primary sales vehicle – call centers – every CAE or CSR knows and can articulate the features and benefits of every product. And, as Joe said, we have to get better at pitching the right products to the right person. Kelly: This is going to sound a little far afield, but I think we have to be able to strike a delicate balance as we roll out new products. We have to be able to do the difficult task of rolling them out operationally as they’re developed, while at the same time maintaining our enthusiasm about them and communicating to employees and the marketplace just how exciting they are. And it’s critical that we not only have to drive home their value, but the fact that many of these products are exclusive to cable. How do you do that? Kelly: By simplifying the selling proposition. The goal of each selling opportunity should be to have the customer walk away saying, "I get it now. I wish someone had explained it to me like that before." Addis: And the trick is to know your audience, be it a mass audience, or an audience of 1 for the CSR. If you were a small operator battling DBS, what would your strategy be? Kelly: I’d be as aggressive with new products as I could, given my scale. I’d try to combine systems with fiber and gain some efficiency. And I’d get creative. If I couldn’t offer, say VOD, I’d look at different ways to offer DVR. Or if I couldn’t afford telephony, I’d look to drive my broadband penetration as deep as possible.