The transportation-centric Thanksgiving weekend—coupled with horrendous Los Angeles-area traffic that actually seemed worse the weekend before—got me thinking about Ford Motor’s new technology for in-auto texting.
In case you missed it, certain 2008 models of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln cars have started shipping with Microsoft-made technology called Sync. Not only does Sync allow such voice commands as requesting to play specific tracks on one’s iPod; it also lets folks send and receive/read text messages while driving.
Here’s how it works: Using Bluetooth technology, Sync will audibly read aloud any text message you receive at the push of a button, even translating such abbreviations as LOL. If you want to send a pre-written message, you just tell it to do so with a voice command—hands-free. Pretty handy for when you’re driving to a holiday dinner with the family. Grandma or Auntie might text you asking where you are. You can tell them approximately how long you’ll be, or if you’re lost and need directions, or if you’re too busy maneuvering in traffic to talk/text right at the moment. Most importantly, Sync makes moot the dangers of texting while driving.
Sure, the technology isn’t perfect, since users can only send 15 customized messages pre-written beforehand. But it’s enough to further most SMS marketing campaigns, since Sync-users can receive any SMS message. A text announcing a sale on the Friday after Thanksgiving or the Saturday before Christmas (two of the biggest shopping days of the year) would be relevant to the person already driving to the mall. An SMS offering a restaurant dinner special is great for the hungry person stuck in evening rush-hour traffic.
What’s more, in the near future Sync can be paired with global positioning systems (GPS) to help marketers create truly targeted messages. Using the GPS that is either on a mobile phone or in a car, marketers can determine the consumer’s exact location and then send the driver messages that are related to nearby businesses. The mesage can offer a discount latte from the closest coffee shop, for example, and let the consumer know exactly how to get to the shop. Or—more apropos for the recent holiday—it can notify the consumer of pre-made side dish specials at a nearby supermarket’s deli.
If marketers are savvy enough, they can take advantage of Sync and by this time next year, promote everything from turkey to tinsel.
Marketing Communications Manager