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Many people think of text messaging as the sole domain of teenagers, but it has some very useful applications for small business owners. Text messages can be an affordable and very efficient way of communicating with your target audience. Even presidential campaigns are using this media for announcements and marketing messages. Here are a few simple rules for using this media to its best advantage.

1. Be considerate. This form of communication is relatively low on spam, which results in the great majority of messages being read by the receiver. However, spammers do exist, and many companies consider using one of these services to blanket the masses with marketing messages. However attractive this may sound, there are harsh penalties if you are caught and most customers will consider it a total turnoff.

2. Support your texts with other marketing. Text messages should be part of your brand, not a contradiction to it. Your customers should read your texts and have ways of getting further information, either at your website or at one of your locations. You can even use your website to support your text campaign, allowing customers to sign up on your website for special text offers.

3. Hire a professional. If you are unsure about handling your own texting campaign, there are many companies willing to do it for you for just a nominal fee. For instance, there are several service providers that allow customers to opt in for promotional mailings; these tend to have innovative features that are more appropriate and interesting than their spamming counterparts. For instance, there are services that send customers coupons when they are in the general area of a given company. Others simply offer the coupons and allow customers to go to their site and download them to their phone. These are both excellent options because they require no wasted paper and target people actually near you and interested in your product. This can cost as little as a few dollars every day.

4. Avoid text-slang. Even if you are using a youth-dominated media, don’t resort to standard text messages. People see corporations that do this as disingenuous, and it certainly demeans your professional image. Always use adult, abbreviation free language that can be understood and respected by the public.

5. Focus on building long term relationships. As in all aspects of branding, it’s important to look out for your long tern interests. Don’t send too many texts (even five per month is too many) or begin replacing valued coupons with simple marketing messages. Simply offer clients things that they need—namely information and discounts—and let them decide how it is best used. Your goal is to become one of your customer’s contacts, not some annoying stalker.

With daily texting worldwide reaching 3.5 billion text messages and 97 percent of these messages read, this clearly has become a mainstream method of communication. By following these rules, this enormous audience can be at your disposal twenty four hours a day in just about any location.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.