Nomi Mobile: the quiet one

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In every classroom, there is a quiet achiever working away behind their desk while classmates talk loudly over the top of them.

In the new school of cheap international mobile minutes, Nomi Mobile is the quiet one, in the shadow of big-talking Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile.

Their rivalry, which has spilled over from the calling card sector and other mobile markets, has been apparent on billboards and bus stops since their launches in October 2007 and September 2008 respectively, as they have lavished millions on promoting their services.

Nomi – meaning ‘call’ in auxiliary international language esperanto – was founded by Stuart Eve and Neil Morgan and second to market with a UK MVNO in November 2007, riding on Vodafone’s network through a wholesale deal with BT (its own mobile proposition piggybacking on Vodafone).

But Nomi claims to enjoy the quiet, as its bigger competitors take lumps out of each other in front of the industry and public.

In a café around the corner from its Waterloo head office – quieter, more modest than its rivals’ – Nomi head of marketing Robert Ashcroft (pictured) suppresses laughter at the mention of the legendary guerrilla marketing tactics employed by certain rival firms (tearing down posters, buying out stock, sabotaging print advertising campaigns).

He takes the classroom analogy, and suggests quiet achievers don’t get involved in such dirty games; and that comparatively meagre resources force a more sensible, targeted approach to marketing.

Nomi micro-manages its ad spend, and unless it sees a tangible return on investment.

Says Ashcroft: “We don’t make the same investments in marketing as some others, but business is pretty steady. We ran the maths [on comparable spend] and saw that it would be difficult to get a profitable return on investment.

“We expect acquisition to be steady. Growth will be smaller than the other major players in this sector but we have deliberately chosen not to make that marketing investment.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 435 (March 23, 2009).

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