During the second half of 2005, some 49 billion text messages, or SMS’s were sent out in the United States alone. That figure will likely double very soon. SMS stand for Short Message Service, and is usually employed on a mobile telephone, but can be used on other hand held devices or desktop computers.
By far the most common use of texts, as SMS’s are commonly called, is as a person-to-person communication system. People all over the world text each other with simple little innocuous messages, often taking the form of jokes that are shared by a group of friends.
But as is the case with all forms of communication, texts can be used as a tool to increase your business profits. How this can be best achieved will depend on the kind of business you operate, but there are many different methods, and one is likely to be capable of being tailored to your particular needs.
The most common way to use text messaging to increase your business profits is by sending out advertisements. However, as with email, this has become subject to widespread abuse. Just finding a list of numbers and broadcasting each one an unsolicited message–spam– is not the best way to use text messaging, and in future may even become illegal.
If you do wish to use text messaging as an advertising tool, then you should first get the permission of each individual first, just as in email advertising. This is not an easy task, but it can be done. If, for example, you have a web site, then you could offer a service only available through text messaging, and anyone interested would have to sign up for the service. This would legitimately allow you to occasionally send out a targeted advertisement to the list of subscribers. But the quality of the service would have to remain high throughout, or subscribers would start to leave.
A spokesman for Verizon Wireless, Jeffrey Nelson, recently said: “We have everything to lose if text spam becomes as endemic as e-mail spam, and absolutely nothing to gain.” This is very true for everyone. Most businesses today will have a ratio of around 10 percent legitimate emails to 90 percent spam that they can’t get rid of. This wastes time and bandwidth and has considerable nuisance value. Text spam would have an equally low tolerance level.
The type of services that can be delivered by SMS can take many forms. Financial information and news alerts are two popular examples. Small businesses who want to make use of this communication system will need to become creative in thinking up ways to communicate with people, prospects or past customers, in ways that are legitimate and do not irritate or annoy.
The service that any small business will have to provide will need to be desirable and interesting. In short–those receiving the text messages will have to want them for the idea to work successfully. This is probably not as hard as it sounds, but like all relatively new communications systems, the innovative uses are the ones that make it through. Think of timely, creative uses of text messaging – things that your customers would find of value, and plan your text messaging campaigns accordingly.