Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Texting is for more than gossip, flirting, and chat

The multi-functionality of a Windows Mobile Professional device amazes me, and I appreciate each and every ability. There is no other device on the market that comes even close. I suppose a few years ago, I would have said the camera would have been the most amazing thing. Of course now I just it for granted along with PIM functions. Maybe more recently I would have said the most amazing thing was to write an entire book on a PPC using an iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard. Or I might have gushed over the ability to watch and control my home TV from anywhere in the world with SlingPlayer on my pocket pal.

After careful consideration, I submit that the most amazing thing I have done to date is the use of text messaging or SMS for mobile marketing. Texting is the future of advertising, which can be used for disseminating information instantly to mobile phones. No other form of advertising comes even close because of its immediacy and ability to reach a customer wherever they happen to be at the moment.

What I particularly appreciate about SMS marketing is that it is SPAM free. Customers must want and ask for the information you send them and can opt out at any time by merely texting the word STOP.

With the proper interface, I can construct a mini-Website that is optimized for viewing on a small handheld screen and send it to a customer. A mini-site can have graphics and function for florists to show flower arrangements, for realtors to show the interior of houses, and for restaurant owners to show a tasty meal. The applications are only limited by your imagination.

I can broadcast a text message to my entire file of opt-in customers, or I can segment it in any way I wish. If I owned a pizza parlor, I wouldn’t want to send a pepperoni pizza special to my vegetarian customers, for instance. Or if I were a realtor, I wouldn’t want to send a listing of a million dollar home to a customer looking for a $200,000 home.

If my business depends on appointments, I can send out reminders. Think of how popular I would be as a florist if I reminded some guy of his anniversary and saved his bacon. Doctors and dentists can remind patients (I always thought that was a strange term, as if their clients must have patience. But maybe it’s not so strange after all.) of their pending appointments of that it is time for a six-month check up.

Auto repair shops and car dealers should all be using this marvelous invention as should beauty parlor operators along with any number of other businesses that depend on appointments.

The application of mass SMS is not limited to the business sector. SMS can be used as the most effective crisis alert system ever conceived. We know from the Virginia Tech tragedy that email just doesn’t cut it. I wonder what the outcome would have been had VT been able to text out a warning.

Non-profit organizations can use text messaging as an effective means of fund raising. People can even make contributions with their mobile phones. The other day I was listening to what seems to me to be an almost constant fund drive from PBS radio. I would have gladly contributed, but it was too much trouble to do all they asked at the moment. However, had I been able to zap them a contribution instantly with a text message, I would have done it.

Another great use of texting would be for athletic organizations to boost enthusiasm and attendance with contests, votes, reminders, and incentives for ticket sales.

There is even a spiritual side to texting. Churches could start a text message program called “Cell Your Soul to Jesus.” This might be a whole lot more fun and better supported than passing the plate every Sunday or a great supplement. Ministers could offer inspirational text messages and charge a tax deductible subscription fee. You could even do Bible study programs with SMS and a mini-Website.

Yes, the applications of SMS are manifold and infinite. With a little imagination, SMS can be used to promote almost any business, cause, or passion. I wonder what applications readers might conjure up and hope they will share with comments.

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