To revitalize the market, stop marketing
When Frontier Communications saw its small town market shrinking, the U.S. broadband provider found itself at risk of losing its most important customers.
Rather than run a marketing campaign to squeeze out more business, Frontier did something unprecedented: use a competition to illuminate the best stories of revitalization—a step that spurred cross-town collaboration and boosted the health of the markets it depends on.
“We launched America’s Best Communities to inspire innovation, foster sustainable local growth and drive increased investment here at home—in America’s emerging markets—our rural communities.”Maggie Wilderotter
With the right structure and support, Frontier realized the competition could be much more than a short-term campaign—it could offer a platform for robust and inclusive collaboration, helping to revitalize the very communities the company depends on.
America’s Best Communities (ABC) was designed to amplify the best ideas of successful small-town economic vitality, and encourage those facing similar challenges to share knowledge and resources. The effort began with a call to action, announced through Frontier’s media channels and in face-to-face discussion at the town level. A robust website, and a commitment of several million dollars in prize money, demonstrated that Frontier had real skin in the game.
Several features were built into the prize design to encourage collaboration, resource sharing and relationship building. The application process encouraged businesses, nonprofits and government to partner on their entries, fostering long-term connection. A series of ABC summits and webinars celebrated small-town achievements and encouraged further exchange.
Quarter-finalist communities were featured on the ABC website with access to their complete application so the good ideas could be seen and shared by entrants. Finalists gathered at a national awards conference that received extensive media coverage, turning the spotlight on formerly unsung small-town heroes, and earning Frontier millions of viewer impressions.
ABC attracted nearly 350 rural communities to apply, with entrants ranging from ranching and farming communities to Rust Belt factory towns struggling to recover from job losses. Most importantly, Frontier achieved its goal of providing genuine, positive impact on the well-being of its customer network.