Verizon’s Visible, a low-cost, digital-only phone carrier, is using direct-to-consumer principles to attract millennials who are leaving a family plan for the first time in their lives.
No stores exist. Consumers sign up for Visible by downloading an app. A new SIM card arrives in the mail for the $40-per-month service.
Like direct-to-consumer brands, Visible pays close attention to the customer experience and uses product feedback to inform the offering – inspired by companies like Zappos and Glossier, said Visible’s CMO Minjae Ormes.
When Visible noticed early adopters posting about their experiences on Reddit, its marketing team reached out and asked what they liked and what could be better. Based on hundreds of responses, Visible added a mobile hotspot feature in addition to unlimited talk, text and data, since it ranked as the top request from early customers.
Responding to customer feedback also builds a community, an important part of Visible’s marketing plan. “As we scale and grow, we’re thinking about how we can change the relationship you have with your phone service,” Ormes said.
Although Visible has started some programmatic advertising, early efforts focused on grassroots ways to connect consumers with the brand – including ways for them to see the brand’s message in person, not just online. Visible ran out-of-home advertising where it wrapped abandoned stores with its messaging and built a pop-up “phone repair shop” in New York City’s Soho neighborhood that hid an Instagram-worthy backdrop of an upside-down subway station.
Online, Visible let influencers trial and review the service, and ran successful campaigns on streaming music services like Soundcloud and Pandora, where Visible’s target customer devotes their precious phone data.
The best media channels “play a dual purpose,” Ormes said, combining awareness and acquisition.
Because Verizon’s Visible is new, it can see the impact of its marketing activities on sales more easily than an established brand. Coverage in the press, or a conversation on Reddit, leads to a spike in website traffic and signups. Plus, since Visible is ecommerce only, it understands more about the customer’s path to purchase. There’s never the question of how someone ended up in a store, because there are no stores.
Visible keeps data and analytics in house, allowing it to get a more holistic view across the entire business, not just advertising and media.
“We act and operate like a startup, but have the resources and infrastructure of the parent company,” Ormes said. That support includes Verizon’s media agency and its CMO Diego Scotti, who mentors Ormes.
As Visible scales up its marketing, Ormes wants to figure out “how we show up as a brand.” The challenge of building a new brand in a completely different industry initially attracted her to the role. Ormes previously worked on YouTube’s paid subscription products, including YouTube TV. Before YouTube, she spent time as an agency brand manager working with entertainment clients.
“One, I wanted to make a big leap. Two, I wanted to deliver the biggest impact possible,” Ormes said. “That’s how I arrived at this opportunity, to start a new brand product, team culture and business from the ground up, but within this dynamic of a partner company.”