For independent cable companies like Phenix City, Alabama-based CTV BEAM, loyal customers keep you in business. So when the company sought to shed the moniker “Cable TV of East Alabama” in favor of something that looked more toward the future, it was imperative to keep that loyal following on board. It started with a name.
“BEAM” is an acronym for Bringing East Alabama More. “We were trying to get away from being Cable TV of East Alabama so that people didn’t just think of us as the cable company. We were also a broadband company and wanted to show our strengths in both areas,” says operations director and marketing team member Melissa Gauntt. But the unanimous decision to go with the name CTV BEAM had a deeper meaning as well. “When you think of beam, you think of strength. You think of beam with pride. You think of beam with happiness of joy,” she says. “It was supposed to have a positive reflection.”
Meanwhile, the “CTV” part maintains a connection to the company’s history so that years of community building were not forgotten. It was important to help customers make that transition by “maintaining the history but refl ecting toward the future,” Gauntt explains. “We’ll always be [our original iteration] Phenix Cable to some people. But I think the more that we push the CTV BEAM and as we continue to move toward BEAM as our identity, people will embrace it.”
Constructing an image that beamed the company into the future meant more extensive marketing of modern services like live streaming, a new website and social media connections. “Your digital image now goes with you everywhere, so we tried to make that as updated and fresh as it could be,” says Gauntt. It also meant branching out with new things like promoting local arena football and local high school teams.
Mind you, getting involved with the community is nothing new for the indie. Community investment is what Gauntt believes sets them apart from others. Their list of community connections is extensive, with live streaming of local events—impressively—being top of the list—from high school football to band concerts to rec league games. “Most important to us is our family—and everybody loves to see their family on TV,” says Gauntt. CTV BEAM is also a big contributor to local charities and historic preservation areas. For a small company, such an inclusive list “says exactly where our priorities are.”
CTV BEAM is, above all, about keeping it local. “In this area, your reputation is as important by word of mouth as it is by any kind of marketing strategy that we could come up with,” Gauntt says. It might even trump paid advertising, she mused. American Cable Association’s membership evp and chief of staff Rob Shema is impressed with the results. “It’s amazing that a small, rural company is reinventing itself for its customers and the business community at this time, and is doing it in such a way that ingrains itself not only to its customer base but into the whole community,” he says.
And in a world where big cable is getting bigger, sometimes it pays to be little. “With the changes in the cable industry as they are, the best thing that we can do is stay completely ingrained in our community and make our presence known by being local,” Gauntt says. “That is truly what has set us apart and kept us viable.”
– Kaylee Hultgren