SMS: Get Into Your Clients Pants!


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Good morning Internet fans. It’s Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Wednesday, therefore it is Social Media Wednesday. It’s September 9th and our regular co-hostess Sarah Giometti with Provaro Marketing is literally on a plane right now over the Pacific Ocean heading to Hawaii. She is very sad that she wasn’t able to make today’s show but she is very happy that she is on a plane heading to Hawaii with her husband. So, we will be hearing from her next week via Hawaii. So I’m excited about that but I’m even more excited about today’s special guest. I actually met her through Twitter and we’re going to talk about something that I know very little about, she really opened my eyes before the show started about a number of different things. So I’m really excited. So I have Jennene Biggins with… See I told you I’m getting a memory loss, she is with and she specializes in mobile marketing and we’re going to talk specifically about text messaging or SMS marketing. So, good morning here good afternoon there because you’re in DC, Jennene.

Jennene Biggins: Yes, good morning can you hear me okay?

RP: I can. You sound great and you look fine.

JB: Great. Yes, I’m in… I was right outside the Washington DC area in Maryland.

RP: Alright, awesome and we’ve only got 15 minutes which goes by very quickly, I want to pack a lot of information so if you can really just briefly describe what SMS or text messaging is and then we’ll kinda go into the details of how it can benefit small business owners.

JB: Okay, no problem. Basically, SMS text marketing, SMS stands for short message service and it’s a system that allows you to connect with customers in their phones via text messages. It’s not the text messages that you send your… Group text messages to everyone on your list and they’re responding. It’s a two way, just one on one but two way between the business and the potential client or the customer. And you can send all kinds of information from text message to autoresponders to polling questions, birthday reminders, appointment reminders, the gamut. It’s a awesome system and all the big brands use it. Macy’s is a big proponent of it, they have a sale every week, but they use it for people to opt in and get coupons etcetra. So, it’s an awesome tool for small businesses to harness, for marketing.

RP: Okay. And as technology is changing and the way we use technologies, what are the benefits of, say, SMS marketing over other types of marketing?

JB: SMS because most people… Statistics show 92% people will open a text message versus 5% that open a email. Phones, everyone has a phone with them, it’s always within 10 feet at a time, most likely they never turn it off

[chuckle] If you think about the way that you engage with your phone you probably never turn it off, it’s probably in the bed with you, you don’t leave home without it, like American express. So it’s a… Also it’s viral, there are a lot of viral components as well, so you can share your mobile messages with your Twitter and your Facebook. So, it’s kinda working in twofold.

RP: Okay, very interesting and I’m one of those. I don’t literally sleep with my phone, however I’m one of those. I think it’s 92% of the people that have smartphones, it never is without arm’s reach within 10 feet of us.

JB: Exactly.

RP: 24 hours, seven days a week it’s always there. Now, I will admit that I turn mine off at night, I don’t literally turn it off but it goes into silent mode at night so I can actually sleep through the night. So, what’s really cool about it, those that with smartphones and especially I would think with the younger audience, we all know the younger audience love to text, they’re not so much in the emails, definitely… Whatever is quick, fast and easy…

JB: Exactly.

RP: Is really what it’s all about these days. So, that’s why I was really excited to talk to you because I’ve been aware of SMS marketing for… It’s been a few years. I want to say three-four, maybe even pushing five years that it’s been around. But we were talking offline, it’s almost like video marketing. Video marketing’s been like the next big thing for I don’t know how many years now, and here we are in 2015 and it’s finally… Everybody’s finally starting to talk about video marketing. And I think SMS marketing is kinda coming up on that precipice also, where it’s like, you need to be doing this because it’s just an easy way to add another layer of marketing. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting is it’s a actual very low barrier, very easy to implement.

JB: Yes.

RP: I don’t know if you heard that, I just had the biggest big rig go by.

JB: Yeah.

RP: And you said you could actually, you can get a service, somebody’s service or a campaign going within 24 hours, is that correct?

JB: Yes, within 24 hours. And you’ve mentioned that it’s just kind of coming up on the forefront and we were both trying to figure out what was… Did we figure out what the show was years ago with Simon, the singing show, America…

RP: Yeah, America’s Got Talent or it’s…

JB: Number four, that’s the first one. And I…

RP: We should have figured this out before we started the episode.

JB: And I mentioned that because that was like, what? 2005, you could actually vote from your phones, and you can do the same thing it’s with text messages now. So you can utilize them and you can compare… You can actually combine it with video, because someone can text in to your number and then you can shoot a video back to them about your product or service. So, it can be a combination of uses that you can use with your traditional marketing.

RP: Okay. And speaking of uses, what are some of the usage… We kinda talked before the show, dentists as an example. A lot of times it’s built in. If you go to the dentist, many of them, because of the software that they use, will automatically send you a reminder. You also brought up birthdays, but… And earlier in the show you brought up Macy’s with sales. What are some of the other ways that a small business owner on a limited budget could use SMS to help push their word out, their message, and grow their visibility?

JB: Okay. So, let’s take an auto repair shop, which is pretty good, or a servicing shop. They can actually push out a coupon to everyone that opts in, of things that come up. It could be a certain amount off for their oil change or different parts. And that coupon will stay in their phone all the time, so instead of them forgetting the paper one, they have it right in their phone. They can do reminders for service, like, “Don’t forget, it’s coming up on the winter. Come in this particular range of dates,” and get a special off that way. They can send them birthday reminders. They can even do polls or questions. “Are you having a… Or when’s the last time that you had a oil change?” or, “Are you having problems with your car?” or, “Are you thinking about buying a new car?” So that’s just some of the features.

JB: Here’s even a text-to-win function so that you can give away things for people that opt in. So if you’re a small restaurant, we used that as an example, I think I was telling you. Say on Monday they realize, “Wow, we have a lot of shrimp left over from Sunday’s brunch. We need to get rid of it so it doesn’t go bad.” They can shoot a text out to their whole list that says, “Hey, come in between 5:00 and 7:00 and get a shrimp appetizer with your meal.” Well, they’re going to come in, they’re probably going to have drinks, and they might even have dinner. So now you’ve reached them and you’ve… Your return on investment is up over a 100% because it was really quick, you didn’t have to worry about them not reading your email. So it’s very easy to adapt for any industry, really. For speakers, for car repairs, for lawyers. Reaching out and disseminating that information really quickly.

RP: Right. And one of the things that you just mentioned that triggered a thought was the restaurant. I didn’t quite hear if it was spin-to-win, but it reminded me, we had a local restaurant here, Sally Tomatoes. They actually had a mobile app created and it had like a slot machine. And so every day, you could click on the slot machine and sometimes you might get a free drink or a free appetizer, or you didn’t win anything at all. So you can incorporate that same type of idea, I guess, marketing idea, into SMS?

JB: Yes. Not so much being able to press on a button, but you can have a text-to-win. So you can have the system… You can say, “I have five prizes,” it could be appetizer, it could be a free cocktail or whatever, and everyone that text in, you can say, “It’ll be drawn at a certain time.” And the beautiful thing about all of this, it can be scheduled. We know most small businesses, they don’t have someone to do marketing. And they’re kinda doing everything. So you can schedule out these different, particular tasks or promos, and it will automatically go… The system will automatically choose a winner, and it will say, “Hey, you won,” to the winner, and then you could have something that says, “Hey, we’re sorry you didn’t win, but here’s a $5 off coupon.” So it’s like a win-win for everyone, and that’s one of the features of the platform as well.

RP: Right. And the other thing, I think, I see it in big areas… You go to a concert or something like that, typically there’s a sign, “Text… ” If you go to the ball park, a lot of times you can put a message up on the billboard, they use text messaging. But I think from a small business point of view, a lot of people aren’t using SMS as a marketing tool and one of the benefits that can be for people that get into that earlier than everybody else is the fact that it’s new. And any time we see something new, it’s like, “Oh, I want to… Okay. What is this? I need to go check it out.” Versus, “Oh, this is just email marketing again, okay, yep. I’m… Nothing exciting there.”

RP: So you’re probably going to have a higher level of response and reaction for those people that join in early, simply because that new-ness hasn’t worn off yet.

JB: Yeah. And I don’t think it’s going to… Because we noticed that newspapers are smaller, advertising has really gone down, but we know our restaurants and our auto, they still advertise. But guess what? They can utilize the SMS text in their traditional advertising to expand that message. So, even though it may be a small ad, they may say, “Text ‘Auto Repair’ to 12345,” and then that can send them a coupon for everyone that texts in. And then, the business owner can actually track, “Oh wow, we’ve gotten X amount from the gazette or from the ledger.” So, there’s a tracking element as well. You can see…

RP: And you know what I really love about that is, and ’cause I come from an SEO background, so what I love about SEO is that we create marketing assets. Today, for me, SEO, if you want to be found on Google, you have to create content. That content could be an infographic, it could be a blog, it could be video, but you have to create content. And what’s great about creating content is that is now a marketing asset that lives with your business forever. So that print ad, and I love the analogy that you used, that print ad, that’s disappearing, yet it still has a place in marketing. But why not maximize the value? If you’re going to spend money on something that you know is going to disappear, why not maximize the value by getting something in return? Which is a way to market to your clients on an ongoing basis.

JB: Correct.

RP: That, to me, is brilliant. I love. There’s your one nugget of information there, people, that hopefully should go, “Ding, ding, ding.” Maybe this is something smart. And just so we don’t scare people, SMS marketing isn’t expensive to start up. It’s not a $1000 to start an SMS campaign, is it?

JB: No, there are different platforms out there are… My particular platform you can start as low as $29 a month which is totally amazing for what you get. So, you have $29 and it’s a month to month. There’s no longterm contract. So, you can see if it works, but I always tell people you have to implement it. Once you get the people on the list, you’re gold. So… And then people ask, “Well, how do you get them on your list?” You market it like anything else, through you email, through signage, text 12345 to this number. For example, I took my little cousins to Chick-fil-A. Well, now Chick-fil-A has where you can order… You can order food on their app or you can text in. I’m like, “How amazing is that?” So, I can even text in before I get there. So, there’s a lot of functionalities, a lot of things you can do with it that we can’t even touch yet on this interview that we’re having. But it’s an awesome marketing system that you have a great return on investment.

RP: Right. And for a $30 bench essentially… I got opt in stuck in my head because we’re talking about SMS marketing, but for a buy-in of $30 from a marketing point of view that’s very inexpensive. And even if it was just something like you said, “Hey, if you’re running small ads in the newspaper, why not maximize the value of that ad and get some customer database?” We all know from email marketing, email marketing is great but it’s really about the database. It’s building that database. That’s the goldmine, because you can constantly market to it. The other thing I want to say real quickly and then we gotta go because our time is up…

JB: Wow.

RP: The other thing that I really liked that you said earlier also was the… You can do a questionnaire, and so great for service-based businesses and after the client leaves you automatically send them a little questionnaire. And it’s not personal. If I talk to you face to face and go, “Hey, how was the service?” Or “Hey, how was the food?” Even though I might think, “It was okay.” “Yeah, it was fine,” because I don’t want to hurt your feelings. You send it in a very impersonal way through SMS. “Yeah, I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel.” And now you can have real information that you can drive and make changes in your business, and I think that’s really, really powerful.

JB: And not only that, the business owner can automatically respond. You don’t want that particular client gong to a Yelp or to Google Plus to complain because that will effect your online reputation, which I’m sure you’re well aware of. So give them the place to put their information, whether good or bad, and then you can respond automatically to them.

RP: Yeah. And if you can diffuse just one bad review on Yelp that will save you thousands of dollars down the road. Jennene, I really appreciate your time. This was some great information.

JB: Awesome.

RP: If you’re available in the future, I would love to talk to you again when I have an open slot, ’cause I think there’s a lot of relevant, great information here that small-business owners should be aware of.

JB: Yes, most definitely. But thank you for having me.

RP: Definitely. And I see your website in the background, but how can they get ahold of you if they have some questions?

JB: You can… Through the website or please feel free to call me at 202-406-0717.

RP: Alright, great. So that’s it everybody. Jennene, thank you again for your time and energy. I really do appreciate it. The other thing you all don’t know is that I had somebody scheduled, and then last night they found out they weren’t able to attend today’s show. So, Jennene was like a last second… She totally came and saved my ass, so I really appreciate that.

JB: You’re welcome.

RP: Next week again, Sarah Giometti will be back. We have something scheduled. I have no idea what it is, but I know it’s going to be something fabulous. We’ll see you all next week. Jennene, take care and looking forward to talking to you again.

JB: Sounds great.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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