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Q&A: Text Messaging Done Right

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Take your mobile marketing to new heights.

Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert. She is founder and president of Bredin Inc., a marketing consultancy that helps Fortune 500 firms develop profitable, long-term relationships with small and medium businesses. She has advised millions of business owners over the last 20 years through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary and forums.

In this article, small business expert Alice Bredin answers questions to help small business owners optimize their use of text messaging for marketing. Learn how to use one of the most effective means of mobile marketing.

Is text messaging a good tactic for small companies? Yes! Nearly half of the small companies in an AT&T Mobile Marketing Survey said text messaging is a favorite mobile marketing tactic for them, just behind having a mobile-friendly Internet site.

What are the biggest advantages of text messaging? Small business owners favor text messages because they cut through the clutter and encourage timely action on the part of customers. Text message marketing programs are also easy and quick to establish. They're not as flashy as some other forms of mobile marketing, but they're usually read, making them one of the most powerful tools you have.

How are businesses currently using text messages to market? The AT&T survey found that businesses use text messaging primarily to promote special events and special offers. Because of the immediacy of text messaging, you can craft your messages to encourage business when it most benefits you.

For example, a wine store could send a message when a shipment of a coveted wine arrives. A shoe store could text customers with a buy-one-get-one-free offer. A dentist or doctor’s office could help fill last-minute appointments by sending texts when people cancel. These sorts of messages provide a service to customers and allow you to make a sale you might not have made otherwise.

How well do they work, and will I be able to keep at it once I start? Business owners report that 9 out of 10 text message programs meet or exceed their expectations. Is it hard to do text messaging? Of the business owners surveyed, 50% said it’s easy to get started, and an equal number said that their text messaging programs are easy to maintain.

How should I get started? To gather names for your text outreach, you can promote discounts and special offers, and ask people to sign up to receive them via text. Once you have their permission, you can text without worries about creating a negative perception. In terms of what to offer, texts are immediate, so match your content to the medium. Send timely information, including discounts, new inventory, or product updates. Frequency is key with texting—but it's not advisable to text customers more than once a week unless they've specifically agreed to that.

What are the keys to success? Permission is essential. Plan on building a list as your first step, as I mentioned earlier. Keeping your outreach limited and the value of each text high can help enhance the impact of your communication. If you are not sending a time-sensitive offer, key alert, or mobile coupon, resist sending it via text.

The AT&T Messaging ToolkitSM allows businesses to easily distribute and manage mobile campaigns in a variety of ways, including text messaging.

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