Note: mobileStorm does not, in any way, condone the sale or use of illegal substances.

Drug SMSBy now, everyone\’s heard of the frat-boy drug busts at San Diego State University. Most people were shocked at the scope of the narcotics networks. Not to mention the homeland security aspirations of one arrestee – which kind of underscores the folly of the \”wars\” on drugs and terrorism. But the silver lining here is for digital message marketers: It\’s a chance to see how SMS marketing can be effective for the widest variety of, er, industries.

According to investigators, the accused dealers sent out at least one mass text-message to their database of satisfied customers, offering a special sale on cocaine. Said the SMS message (exact grammar/punctuation/spelling intact): \”Attn faithful customers both myself and my associates will be in vegas this coming weekend bad news is we will not be here to complete sales good news is from Now to until midnight thursday gs are 35 eights 110 quads 210 so stock up, we will be back Sunday night.\”

I hate to say it, but the fraternity-brothers-turned-illegitimate-businessmen seemed to have a handle on how to leverage targeted message marketing. (Despite the fact that the message above breaks the best-practices rule about keeping texts to 160 characters or less.) Here\’s why:

  • Time-sensitive information. Special pricing on coke would be available starting immediately.
  • Call to action. Because the special prices would last just a few days, customers had better \”stock up\” on their blow right away.
  • Branding. These guys were going to Las Vegas, baby. Who better to sell the party lifestyle than those living it?
  • Maintain relationships with customers. If you miss out on the sales special, don\’t worry – they\’ll be back Sunday night to supply you with plenty more nose candy.

(By the way, all this reminds me of the premiere episode of mobileStorm\’s online satirical news show, Outside The Inbox: Video Edition.)

To be sure, there\’s one marketing benefit that will likely backfire: Further targeting of the customer base. Usually, customer behavior regarding a message – responding to it, ignoring it, or acting on it – helps the marketer determine which campaigns are most effective. However in this case, all it will do is provide law enforcement with a list of drug users whom they could arrest.

But hey, since the text message seemed to have been sent to those who really wanted it, at least the George Jung-wannabes weren\’t SMS spammers!

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me (but not about drugs)”