Marketing is a noble profession. When a brand-new VoIP provider crawls out of telecom's primordial ooze, it needs to tell somebody it did it.
Here are some of our favorite VoIP marketing/advertising techniques/campaigns:
National Commercials for VoIP companies
VoIP Ad Blitz 1: Vonage's Bean-Box Commercials
Beautiful woman? Check.
Bad decision? Check.
Vonage's "bean-box" commercials usually involved a beautiful woman starting to do something stupid (like swimming with sharks or going into the basement during a thunderstorm). Vonage would throw a box at her head and say, "Talk all you want for $24.99." Later, they would add, "Vonage: A smart decision among many, many stupid ones."
Then they'd play that "Woo Hoo" song.
Vonage's campaign was effective because Vonage was cheap. No one charged $25 a month for unlimited calling in 2004.
Oh, how the times have changed.
Vonage still produces witty commercials (and still charges low rates per month), but with providers like Phone Power and ITP you can pay under $9 a month for phone service.
VoIP Ad Blitz 2: MagicJack Commercials
magicJack's commercials are informative and represent the product that you'll get - they're cheap commercials. (They're also really hard to find online).
You get what you pay for when it comes to magicJack. You don't pay very much money, that's true. But the product doesn't always work and there isn't a full-time support staff.
It's better to go with a VoIP provider like ITP or phone.com, which have a full-time support staff, ticket system, and 800 number that you can call when you get stuck.
Marketing Tool 1: Free Stuff
VoIP companies giving away free stuff is the most common and most effective marketing tool they have. It's one that we like the most, too.
Whether it's a free phone (or near free phone, like the $25 Polycom phone that 8x8 offered at one time) or a few free months of service (like ITP offers) or even freedom from hidden fees (see Jive), free stuff is always a great way for VoIP companies to publicize their offering and to suck in new users.
Just make sure you check the terms and conditions of the free offer before you try to buy it. Usually, you have to be a new customer in order to get a promotion.
Of course, the best example of VoIP provider giving away free stuff is Skype. Skype doesn't charge for calls within its network and it doesn't charge for video calls. For that reason, Skype is popular.
Marketing Tool 2: Song Lyrics
Vonage has a certain affinity for appearing in song lyrics. For example, listen to "Love Story" by Big Sean:
"Seems like I known you for the longest
Funny how we connected on the low like Vonage"
We're not sure – at all – if there was any compensation for this name-dropping but we thought we'd mention it. (There are also other lyrics like this, but they're ... inappropriate for mixed company).
Certain names lend themselves to being used this way - they are easy to rhyme and they have a good internal rhythm. In fact, some provider's names would be great for rappers and songwriters.
Marketing Tool 3: Buy a Professional Sports Team
This is my favorite technique (and I hope we can get a voipreview.org AAA baseball team). MagicJack purchased the Women's Professional Soccer team from Washington D.C.
Before MagicJack bought the team, it was named the Washington Freedom, in honor of the ideals associated with the U.S. capital.
Now, the team is known as magicJack's Washington Freedom. While they still retain the Freedom as a part of their name (I think), they are now known as the magicJack.
It's not a joke. And while Women's Professional Soccer signed off on the name change, they haven't updated their website. So it's even more confusing.
Any other crazy VoIP marketing ideas or VoIP advertising ideas you've seen out there? Is there a particular campaign that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @VoIP_Review