What We Did This Weekend: 2011 Pony Express Days Report

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The 2011 edition of Pony Express Days is now over for our tireless employees involved in marketing, but the real work is just beginning for our techs, who have a whole lot of new installs to take care of in the next couple of weeks. After months of preparation, and a mailing blitz, our first night of involvement in the city’s annual festival started  Fri May 27 with the opening night of the PRCA Rodeo, where, as an official sponsor, we set up display booth with banners advertising our big announcement for this year, which was our new 50Mb speeds, and the free Wii for new subscribers. On Thursday afternoon we set up a table with brochures and flyers at the rodeo ground, strapped everything down with packaging tape, and hoped the wind would be kind to us this year.

Diane Bradshaw presents an Xbox 360 to Kloe Thompson, the lucky winner of the 2011 calf scramble.

On May 30 – Monday, was the Final Night of the PRCA Rodeo, and our big event, because we were the sponsor of the calf scramble. Diane Bradshaw, our office manager, gave free t-shirts to all the kids who participated, and a free Xbox to Kloe Thompson,  the lucky winner of the calf scramble.

On Tuesday, as part of our effort to keep in touch with our business customer’s needs, we hosted a 1-hour focus group to learn from them how we could improve our services and products for local businesses at our new office conference room. We gave local business owners $20 plus lunch to hear their opinions. We asked them questions like:

  • What can we do as the local broadband provider to make Eagle Mountain a more attractive destination for business development?
  • How much speed do you think you will need in the next couple of years?
  • Do you employ a dedicated I.T. person?

That evening at 6pm we held a similar focus group for current residential customers to try gauge how we were doing as a company, and were pleased to hear from them how far they thought we had progressed as a company over the past few years. We have been hosting these focus groups for several years, and each year the complaints have decreased, and this year our customers had nothing but compliments to share, even though we tried to stress that we really wanted them how we could improve. One important piece of feedback we did get was that even though we were being involved in the community, donating to schools and athletic teams, the general public was not getting this news, and they explained how they get information from the school newsletters, PTA groups, Crossroads Journal and so forth. Also, we learned that not a lot of them use our homepage after they had got the information they needed to make the switch to us, so we need to use that space purely for advertising for potential customers.

On Wednesday evening we held a focus group for residents who were not our customers to try find out why they would use a different ISP, and what we could do to be more attractive to them, and received a lot of good market information that we will be using to improve our products. An encouraging nugget from that session was that the participants said that even though they may not be using our service, everything they had heard from their neighbors about our company was positive, and they had heard we had great customer service, and that we always treated people well, even in billing disputes. We will continue to hold these focus groups, so if you want to participate next year, contact Ben Hayes at 801 789 2808.

Ben Hayes at our 2011 pony express days vendor booth

On Thursday afternoon we set up our vendor booth at park, and kept that open till 10pm each night till the end of the celebrations on Saturday night. Our promo this year was the free Wii for new subscribers, plus the 50Mb broadband speeds, so we tried to decorate the booth with advertisement that would leave nobody in doubt as to what we were offering. We had a new Wii hooked up to the TV that we were giving away as a prize, and had the Wii playing Netflix, so that people passing by could see the streaming broadband in action. The booth seemed not quite as busy as last year with new sign-ups, but I did notice that most people seemed to know exactly who we are now, if they were from Eagle Mountain—nobody was confusing us with DirecTV, and we didn’t get any customers stopping by to complain like they used to several years ago at the fair. So, our network improvements are definitely being effective

On Friday morning we sponsored a team at the Special Needs Charity Golf Tournament at The Ranches Golf Club, the proceeds of which went to the EM City Exceptional Kids Club (special needs activities program). Our company team managed a score of 4 under par, which was a way off the winning 13 under par, but any day that I get to play golf for work is a fantastic morning at the office for me. Our General Manager, Kip Wilson, is really a good golfer with real golf shoes and everything, and a 330-yard drive.

Hopefully they showed our pre-show ad at the Movie in the Park that Friday night at the Silverlake Amphitheater.

On Saturday morning we sponsored several of our employees and their spouses at the 5K and Kids’ Fun Run—you would have noticed them wearing our “faster steaming broadband” t-shirts.

Soon after the 5k was time for the main even we had all been planning for—the Grand Parade. Each year this event seems to get longer, and this year was no exception. We lined up in our spot, #76 this year, at 9am; the parade started at 10am, and we didn’t pull into the parking lot at the end of the parade until after 12pm. During the parade we gave out several hundred dollars worth of candy, plus over 200 frisbees, 300 t-shirts, and 100 bananas. The bananas came about kind of by sheer coincidence –last year Troy, our gorilla man, threw out some bananas his mom had given him into the crowd because he didn’t want to eat them, and people went crazy for those bananas from the monkey. We took note, and this year came prepared and had the ape throwing bananas from the roof of the truck on purpose, and they were probably the most popular item we gave away. Strange but true—marketing is truly a fun occupation. We try to ration the kids in the trucks to space out the Frisbees and t-shirts, and wish we had enough to give everybody on the sidelines something, but unfortunately just don’t have the budget to that that—hopefully you all came away with a good haul from all the local businesses that were represented at the parade.

The thing that most people will probably be talking about was the visit from Master Chief from Halo, who decided he wanted to walk along with our parade float because he was a Direct Communications customer himself. This was a perfect fit for our brand, because any self-respecting gamer would obviously want our fiber optic service with its low latency and ridiculously-fast upload and download speeds. So many kids wanted to come up and high-five Master Chief, that it really slowed down our vehicles’ progress, and we were soon far behind the rest of the parade—we couldn’t see the next float down the road. Anyway, he was fantastic, a real trooper, made a lot of little and not-so-little boy’s days, and hopefully enjoyed himself in Eagle Mountain that day. We really enjoyed having him join us. We need more passionate people like that in the world.

After the parade it was back to the booth, where we had a lot of people switching from wireless services to our fiber-optic broadband, and we listened to their stories of terrible service on wireless with great sympathy, and welcomed them to our better network with open arms, and sent them away happy with a free Wii for their troubles. This is a very satisfying moment for anybody in sales or marketing—when you see somebody making a positive change their lives, something that you know is going to make a real difference to their family and quality of life. We generally save them money, give them faster broadband, a more reliable service, and open up a whole new world of streaming video to them. All it takes is them discovering the truth about how internet service works, and giving them an incentive to make the switch, because it is hard work to switch service providers. Most people we talk to are willing to make the switch right there on the spot at the booth, which is a huge contrast to several years ago, when nobody really knew who we were.

Kip Wilson presents JASON & JENNIE OMER with their new TV during Pony Express Days 2011.

A little after 3pm on Saturday afternoon we held the drawing for our smart TV with VIZIO INTERNET APPS. This drawing was open to current customers in our Eagle Mountain Utah exchange area only. This TV with WiFi built in is the future of video. No wires, no bulky receivers, set-top boxes or media players–streaming access is built right into the TV, and you just hang it on any wall and start watching online video over your home internet network. Kip drew out the ticket, we checked our billing records to make sure the winner was a current customer in good standing, and called them up to pick up their prize at the booth. They showed up within a few minutes, we checked their ID, took a picture, and we posted the announcement of the winner of the TV to our Facebook page literally within a minute of the little ceremony. Congratulations again to JASON & JENNIE OMER, winners of our smart TV drawing for Pony Express Days 2011.

During the first two days of Pony Express Days we signed up over 50 new customers, talked to hundreds of people one-on-one, and hopefully were seen out there being involved in the community by just about everybody in Eagle Mountain, so overall I would consider this year’s event another success.

Thank you letter from Eagle Mountain City expressing appreciation for our sponsorship of Pony Express Days.

About Brigham Griffin
Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications, resides in rural Idaho, and has been with the company since 2005. Brigham has an MBA from the University of Utah, and a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University. He also serves as an adjunct professor of marketing at Idaho State University.

One Response to What We Did This Weekend: 2011 Pony Express Days Report

  1. It was great seeing you at the Parade! I wore my DirectCom T-Shirt and got a free frisbee. I also enjoyed talking to Darin at the fair about the new speeds and when we’ll get upgraded to VDSL. Thanks for the new T-Shirt!

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