Monday, July 23, 2007

Should Mobile Marketing Cost End-Users?

One of the big differences between email and SMS messages is that email is free, but text messages cost the end user to send and to receive. However, because of the cost factor, the end-user is also in control. He must ask for the information, and he can opt-out at anytime. Accordingly, SMS is supposedly SPAM-free. However, I must admit that I have now received several spam SMS messages from what appears to be a software pirating company based in Chile.

Mobile marketers have been discussing the idea of FTEU (free to end users) for a while now. So far, only AT&T and Verizon are amenable to the concept. Other carriers seem reticent to follow suit.

What do you think the policy should be from the consumers' point of view and from the marketers' point of view?

For an expanded view of the subject, visit Steve Chipman's
Digital Marketing Blog.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

4INFO Offers Instant Info with Texting/SMS

If you need instant information on the go, use the power of your mobile phone and text messaging. While Google may be the best known source available for texting information queries, another good one with many of the same features but with different ones too is 4INFO.

To review text messaging for information retrieval, there are two elements. First you must send the message to a short code, which usually consists of five digits so that you don’t have to key in or remember a whole long phone number. Next, you must enter a keyword so that the service knows how to respond appropriately. For instance, if you are interested in a stock quotation, just key in the ticker symbol such as IBM and text it to 44636 (4INFO).

With 4INFO, you can find information on sports scores, stocks, Wi-Fi hotspots, package tracking, weather, yellow pages, news, flight status, hotel reservations, city search, TV Guide, movie show times, drink recipes, price lookups, jokes, celebrity gossip, and music charts.

Google may be a little stronger for travel abroad for checking airport information, monetary exchange, conversions, questions/answers, and language translations, but 4INFO has some other valuable tools such as package tracking for UPS and FedEx.

4INFO also has some fun stuff such as jokes, horoscopes, drink recipes, and pickup lines. Here’s a corny pickup line for you: Would you like gin and platonic, or do you prefer scotch and sofa? To get an impromptu pickup line just text PU to 44636 and see what you get.

You can also request from and to turn by turn travel directs and a map from Mapquest. If you wish, you can email the directions. If you need help, just text HELP to 4INFO.


Another service 4INFO offers not available from Google is that it will send you alert messages on a wide variety of topics. Real-time alerts include sports scores, player stats, weather, stock quotations, RSS news feeds, package tracking, Craigslist, and even personal reminders. Under the Life & Culture category, you can receive alerts on horoscopes, word of the day, Bible quotations, On This Day, Daily Quote [sic], Love Tips, and Diet Tips. In the Fun Stuff category, you can receive Movie Trivia, Celeb News, Daily Insult, Daily Myth, Fortune Cookie, and Wacky Holidays. You can usually specify when you want to receive the alert and how many.


One of the huge differences between Google and 4INFO is that you must be prepared to receive commercial messages along with your information. It’s sort of like getting Google Ads in 4INFO message. It’s strange that Google doesn’t put ads in their information message yet, but I suppose it will come as certain as bees buzz.

WAP too

If your phone is Web browser enabled, you can go to to retrieve information or to set up alerts.


SMS and 4INFO enables you to acquire instant information on a wide variety of subjects. Google’s SMS offers more services for the traveler, but there is much overlap with 4INFO. 4INFO wins in the fun stuff department, however. Google is ad free while 4INFO is not. Both services are free but you may have to pay per message charges to your service provider. Texting can be addictive and it’s a good idea to get an unlimited usage account.

Google Delivers Instant Information via Text Messaging/SMS

There are several ways you can acquire useful information using SMS. The method we’ll discuss in this article involves sending a text message to Google and receiving information back also instantaneously. All you have to do is send the appropriate keyword to 46645 (GOOGL) or to 466453 (GOOGLE). For example, if you want to know the weather in Chicago, just text “W Chicago” to 46645. Accordingly, you can also find a hotel, pizza joint, restaurant, gas station, or hotspot in any area by just specifying the type of service and geographic location.

Ideal for Travel

When you are travelling and need instant information, Google is an excellent source using your mobile phone and text messaging.

Maybe you want to see a movie. Just text the title and your current Zip Code. Google will respond with information about the movie. You can even get directions on how to get there, which turns your phone into a navigation system without satellite connections.

Suppose you just want to know what movies choices are available. To get a list, just send keywords movies and Zip to Google. When the reply comes, you can call the theater by tapping on the phone number.

If you ever need to know the status of your flight, just text keyword Flight and flight number to Google like this: Flight AS 2110. To get airport information, key in airport name and city. Google will send you the weather and tell you if there are any flight delays.

Sending the airline name will yield you the airline’s toll free number for information and reservations.

What if you need to convert currency? Just text the kind of currency, the amount, and the currency you want to convert to like this: 8 USD to YEN.

If you are having communication problems and need to translate something, Google can come to the rescue. Text the word or phrase you want to translate and indicate to which language, and it will assume you want to translate from English. If other languages are involved, you must specify which the from and to idioms.

Of course, you can also convert and calculate. For example, text 1 US pint in liters, and Google will respond with the answer.

Other Examples

Google works well for finding just about anything you may need. You can send a query for such items as restaurants and even specify the cuisine. It will find hotspots, libraries, hospitals, hardware stores, gas stations, hotels, and more.

It can also define words, report sports scores, and track your favorite stocks. If you ever need help at any point, just text help to GOOGLE.

Let Google turn your mobile communicator into a virtual concierge. Stay tuned for more ways to use the power of texting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do You SMS?

SMS (short message service) or text messaging has become well-entrenched in Europe and Asia. It has been slow to take off in the United States because of our competing telcos with differing technologies. Teens and the younger generation have been quick to adapt texting as their preferred mode of communication in the U.S. With more and more TV shows using SMS for voting (American Idol and Donald Trump), polling, and for joining fan clubs, its use is becoming more widespread. However, few people use SMS to the fullest advantage. You can use SMS to get instant information, send money, make money, and to save money. It is actually the most powerful marketing tool ever conceived.

Sending a text message consists of two elements. First, you have to send it to either a mobile phone number, email address, or a short code. A short code is usually five or six numbers used for non-personal or commercial messages for convenience so that you don’t have to remember or key in a long phone number.

Personal SMS

No wonder the younger generation has enthusiastically embraced texting as the preferred means of communication over phone calls and email; SMS is faster and more efficient. Of course, there’s the down side too, and SMS has been used for cheating on tests so that some schools frown on their use. I suppose another downside would be parents' complaints about excessive per message charges. A word to the wise: If you plan on SMSing, get the unlimited service plan.

To text someone, go to the messaging area of your phone’s functions and select SMS or Text Message. Enter the recipient’s phone number in the To: field and then type your message in the message field. Select Send, and off it goes.

Text messages are limited to 160 characters maximum. Some phones display character counts. If you go over 160 characters, some phone will split the messages and automatically create sequential messages. Some phones have canned text with phrases you can select such as “email me,” “wanna do lunch,” “on phone.” You can edit the list to create your own phrases. Some phones have a table of emoticons or smiley faces you can select.

The 160 character limitation and the laborious task of entering text using a phone keypad have combined to produce an evolving character-efficient text talk with new words and abbreviations. For example, 2GTBT=too good to be true; 143=I love you; 404=I don’t know. For a comprehensive list, go to Check out the emoticon chart too.

Texting has many advantages over email and phone calls. Brief text messages can be assimilated quickly by the human mind compared to processing phone conversations with all the extras and social amenities. Text messages can be archived and automatically linked for easy review on more sophisticated phones. Text messages are never dropped or cut off because of bad reception. Messages are transmitted instantly and can be used in situations where talking on the phone would be awkward, such as in meetings or in public places. You can send links or URLs to Web enabled phones. Texting if fun for casual flirting and for building good karma with thoughtful messages and reminders. Busy people can become even more effective using SMS.

Commercial SMS

Texting in the United States for commercial purposes has just begun to emerge. Perhaps you have noticed texting first on TV shows such as American Idol. You can text your vote using your cell phone—if you are an AT&T customer. Even though limited to a single carrier, the show receives millions and millions of votes showing that it is a well-received and popular activity. The problem of competing technologies of all the different characters has been overcome and the gap bridged by companies such as Synergetics International SMS ( so that it is now possible for businesses large and small to take advantage of this technology for marketing purposes.

Think of the power of SMS with respect to marketing. There has never before been such a powerful means of marketing. Almost everyone carries a mobile phone these days. People don’t leave home without them, and they are your constant companion. Accordingly, a marketer has the opportunity to reach customers at anytime any place.

It is important, however, that unlike email there is no SPAM involved. The customer must initiate and invite the contact and can opt out at any time.

I will discuss the applications of commercial SMS more fully in a future article.


SMS is an amazing technology that goes far beyond personal communications with its commercial marketing possibilities and as a platform for information retrieval. You can use SMS for making money, sending money, and saving money. I will explore all of these possibilities in more detail in future articles, so stay tuned. Texting is the future of personal marketing. The future is in mobile technology. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has predicted that mobile phones will shape the future, not laptops, not PDAs. It seems that Apple believes this too with the release of its new iPhone.