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How Claure can fix Sprint as it battles T-Mobile

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 11, 2014
What can incoming Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure do to reverse the carrier's declining subscriber base?

Just as T-Mobile re-invented itself once Legere took the reins, "Sprint needs to become more nimble," MacGillivray added. "Sprint could reinvent service plans and distribution strategies — Claure's forte — to appeal to their somewhat unique subscriber base."

Much of Sprint's improvement would come via a major marketing push led by a more forceful CEO — Claure, the three analysts agreed. They termed Sprint's marketing efforts in the past 18 months as "lackluster," and even "silly."

For example, analysts said the Sprint Framily plan TV ads seem to target young customers and mimic T-Mobile's aggressive courting of a younger clientele, but the effort has largely failed. And it makes Sprint look bad, they added.

"The Framily marketing seems to be done by an old person for a young person audience," Menezes said. "Sprint needs to revamp marketing, which SoftBank has done well in Japan. Price-cutting will get attention and grab customers."

Claure and Sprint's marketers need to focus on selling values of trust, confidence and reliability, Menezes said.

"Customers wonder, 'Am I getting a good value or am I going to get trapped with Sprint?'" he said. "And it's more important because Sprint might drop to fourth place after being in third place for so long."

Claure clearly has imagination and, based on his experience at Brightstar, can be aggressive in identifying gaps in what the market offers and what he can best leverage for a bigger success, Menezes said.

"He's an entrepreneur, which is what they need now," Menezes said. "He can take out-of-box thinking and knows how to turn that into reality. Hesse was a steady hand, but didn't have that quality."

The analysts also said that Claure can be a forceful front man for Sprint without stooping to the antics of Legere.

"Claure can be upfront, but in a much more cultured manner," Menezes said. "Maybe Claure can be forceful or even emotional — he's Latin after all — without coming out looking like a caricature."

Even so, the way Legere has performed in public press conferences and in seemingly endless taunting tweets haven't hurt T-Mobile, something that should be informative to Claure and his marketing team. "Legere is starting to get into clown territory now, but that hasn't hurt him," Menezes said.

Entner added: "Legere gets a lot of free advertising out of his gimmicks, but if he didn't have a network to back up his words and offers that were differentiated, then he would be a clown. When his company is able to back up his words, then he becomes very interesting."

In a sense, both Claure and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son together can push Sprint forward as much as Legere has done for T-Mobile. "Both Son and Claure are upstarts and self-made billionaires, so they are kindred spirits, which helps Sprint," Entner said.


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