Do You Text or SMS?

There is probably no mobile phone produced today that is not capable of SMS or text messaging (same thing). Yet few people are taking full advantage of its power. You can use your mobile phone for sending text messages to get instant information, send money, make money, and to save money. SMS has become the rage among American teens as the preferred method of communication. But, it has matured into the most powerful marketing tool ever conceived in Europe and Asia. The full range of SMS applications is only beginning to emerge in the U.S.

Sending a text message consists of two elements. First, you have to send it to either a mobile phone number, email address, or a short code. A short code is usually five or six numbers used for non-personal or commercial messages for convenience so that you don’t have to remember or key in a long phone number.

Personal SMS

No wonder teens have eagerly accepted texting as their preferred mode of communication. It is easy to do and fast-much more efficient than email. One negative aspect of SMS is that it can be used for cheating on tests and some schools frown upon it for good reason.

To text someone, go to the messaging area of your phone’s functions and select SMS or Text Message. Enter the recipient’s phone number in the To: field and then type your message in the message field. Select Send, and off it goes.

Some phones display a character count. Some more sophisticated phones offer a popup menu with canned text with phrases such as “On phone,” “Call me later,” “Want to do lunch?” You can created your own phrases too. Some devices also offer a popup grid full of graphic emoticons, which are fun.

With the limitation of 160 characters combined with the cumbersome tasking of inputting text on a phone keypad, text users have come up with a language of their own to save time and strokes. For instance, 2GTBT=too good to be true; 143=I love you; 404=I don’t know. Go to www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp for a good reference for text messaging abbreviations. There is also a chart with an array of emoticons on the bottom of the same page.

There are many advantages to texting over email and phone calls. The human mind can assimilate the information from text messages much faster than listening to speech and all the social amenities involved. You can archive text messages and search them for relevant information. An SMS message is never cut off by bad reception nor misunderstood because of line noise. Texting reaches recipients instantly, even if when they cannot talk on the phone or get to a computer to do email. You can send links on Web enabled phones with maps. Texting is terrific for noisy environments and for people finding one another in crowded places. Texting is great for casual flirting and for building good karma with thoughtful messages and reminders. Busy people can become more efficient through SMS.

Commercial SMS

We are only beginning to see the emergence of SMS marketing in the United States. For instance, TV shows such as American Idol have used it successfully for voting. The millions and millions of responders are evidence of its popularity and acceptance. Unfortunately, voting was only open to AT&T customers. The problem is that all the different carriers in the United States have competing and differing technology. Fortunately, there are companies like Synergetics (www.synergetics.org/sms) that make it possible to bridge the gap across platforms.

Imagine the power of SMS for marketing in a world where everyone has a cell phone these days-people just don’t leave home without them. You can reach your audience anywhere, anytime.

It is important, however, that unlike email there is no SPAM involved. The customer must initiate and invite the contact and can opt out at any time.

In future articles, we will examine the various applications of SMS mobile marketing and take a look at how certain businesses have used it successfully.

Observations

With text messaging, you can quickly send/receive information, make reservations, make contributions, send money, receive money, make money, and save money. I will be discussing all of these aspects in future articles. SMS is a powerful way to target consumers on the move because it goes where the customers are. Most consumers find the novelty of SMS fun and engaging. Email has become snail mail compared to the efficiency of SMS. Texting will soon become the preferred marketing method of large and small businesses because the future is in mobile technology. As Bill Gates has predicted, mobile phones are the future, not laptops, and not Pocket PCs. Mobile marketing will expand accordingly.