Text-ing On A Jet PlaneI went to Chicago last week for the long-weekend family reunion that my mom\’s side holds every other year. The coolest thing this time ‘round was the yellow school bus my cousins and I rented to go from the ‘burbs to barhopping in downtown Chi-town! The second-coolest aspect of the weekend was the dominance of text-message marketing. Sure, it\’s nice to really get away from work and anything related therein. But I gotta be happy when my industry is doing well, especially with the impending recession.

What I encountered, I think any marketer, in any industry, can adapt for his or her own purposes. Read on!

Text-message mileage
On my way up I flew US Airways. During the free beverage distribution, I noticed the paper napkins were emblazoned with the phrase, \”Everyone is texting – including US.\” The copy then explained that passengers could send a message to the airline\’s own short code (which spells out \”textUS\” – get it?) in order log their latest mileage points. The short code is apparently used to help customers with other things, too, like flight information. And even though \”everyone\” is using SMS these days, the airline has a cute step-by-step animated explanation on its website for people who aren\’t sure how to text.

The airline really does understand how SMS is the only way to reach people anytime, anywhere – something we\’ve all said time and again. I don\’t care if laptops are getting lighter and Internet connectivity in airports much more prevalent. People who are getting shuffled from gate to gate, trying to grab a meal before making their connecting flights, or just frazzled from the joys of modern air travel are not going to whip out the notebook at a moment\’s notice. It\’s much easier to dash off a quick text and to read an SMS message while dragging their allotted 40 pounds of carry-on baggage.

I think that any business that caters to travelers – gas station chains, highway-adjacent restaurants, motels, entertainment centers, etc. – could do even better than US Airways with mobile campaigns of their own, both immediately (get weary travelers to spend money right then and there) and in the future (get weary travelers to remember your business for next time). After all, while they don\’t compute while behind the wheel, people do text while driving – a practice no one here at mobileStorm condones, by the way.

Bar (short) code
The first stop on the yellow school bus adventure, an Irish pub-like place called Halligan Bar in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, featured trivia quizzes on TV screens. To play along, patrons could text-message their answers to a short code.

I know such SMS usage has been around for a few years now, but this particular instance had me nodding in agreement. That\’s because the Lincoln Park neighborhood is famous for catering to well-off young professionals and DePaul University students (a.k.a. the well-off young professionals of the future). If Halligan uses the right platform, it could gather information from such disposable-income-blessed consumers, like their names, phone numbers, demographic details, etc. Then the bar can use that information for future campaigns, as long as they first secure consumers\’ permission to send them SMS messages.

Of course, any similar bar or club can do the same. But I think other nightspots could also leverage such SMS campaigns. At the little indie/punk club, DIY musicians could gather a digital version of the ubiquitous \”mailing list\” in order to promote future shows. Wine bars can promote a special-priced vino of the evening, and you\’d have to send a text to find out what it is. And what would really be cool is if these establishments could print their short codes on their cocktail napkins, like the ones on the airplane.

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”