Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: Text Messaging as a Marketing Medium?

Text Messaging as a Marketing Medium?

Recently, I heard someone recommend text messaging as another way to reach prospects. They ranked it right up there with e-mail and snail mail. Now, I know I must be getting old.

I’m somewhere, chronologically, between the Boomers and Gen X. Far enough along in my career to have disposable income and responsibility for spending my employer’s money as well. People like me are dead center in the target audience for many products and services. The idea that anyone would try to reach me with text messaging makes me shudder.
I have text messaging and I do use it. For me, it is a tool like pagers once were. My colleagues and I can let one another know when we are running late and there’s a schedule change. If someone needs to talk to me and has only been able to get my voice mail, text messaging may work. None of the people that I work with are chronic text messagers. I know that if I get one it’s probably urgent, and I should pay attention to it.

I had one encounter recently with a “vendor” using text messaging. It was my dentist. I suddenly started getting holiday and birthday greetings from them. I was irritated but did nothing about it. After all, holidays worthy of greetings only happen a few times a year. However, the last straw came when they used text messaging to tell me to call them to confirm my appointment. Why should I have to call them back when, if they had picked up the phone, they had a 50/50 chance of getting through and not wasting my time anymore than they had to.

If marketers start using text messaging as another medium to reach me, I will have to turn it off. Either that, or the phone companies will develop a way to block numbers, but of course, they’ll probably charge you for it. Either way, I’m unlikely to do business with anyone who uses text messaging to market to me.

Now, I know this may be different if your target audience is younger, and you are not selling B2B products. But, until that generation matures, I’d leave text messaging on the shelf. However, one of the worst mistakes a marketer can make is to assume that their audience is “just like them.” If you think I’m letting my personal preferences color my opinions, let me know.
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  1. Anonymous07:33

    The problem isn't with the medium of text messaging, however, but how the medium is used.

    For some people (me included), I'd love to have something as silly as dental appointment confirmation handled via a couple of silly little text messages rather than a couple of phone calls. So my dentist should make me aware of that possibility and let me *opt in*.

    And your dentist A) should have opted in for you and B) should let you easily -- nearly effortlessly -- opt out.

    But once marketers start treating text messaging like direct mail, we're going to have some serious damn problems. (Of course, I'm not even sure that's legal because most people have some cost associated with receiving text messages.)

  2. Mike brings up a point that can't be stressed enough. No matter how I feel about text messaging, it's a matter of contacting the customer in the way they want to be contacted. Thanks Mike!

  3. Anonymous13:48

    I agree with Mike... saw similar points made in a LinkedIn conversation on using social media to pitch reporters. One reporter noted that LinkedIn is ok because it's professional. Facebook, however, is a far more personal network.

    I'd put text messaging in that same highly personal camp. It's not direct mail that comes to your mail box or email to -- it's an interruption that comes to your hip, or your purse or your pocket. Never, never, never without permission!

    And with permission, and the offer of something of value, you'd have to think it'd be highly effective.


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