Friday, July 27, 2012

A Marketing Idea for the Mobile Minded Business

"The reality is that SMS can be used for online lead generation as well as any web form can. And in the physical world, its hands-down better than the non-alternative of QR-codes."

In 2010, I worked alongside BoldChat founder Kent Johnson to build a startup called TextMyOffice. We were trying to find ways of invigorating his group-messaging company, SendGM, so we started it as a spin-off to try to chase vertical markets.

Before long, we had chatted-up a couple of potential customers and found that there was some interest, but we felt like no-one was really gung-ho on the TextMyOffice idea[1]. The problem was that everyone, including us, felt that SMS products were in the middle of their decline. Since smart-phones were taking over and QR codes were becomming popular, everyone just assumed that some set of apps would completely dry up the SMS market and it would die. Kent eventually lost interest in chasing the product, and he signed it over to me.

I didn't do much with it either, and in 2011 I finally mothballed the website. But, that seems like a mistake now. It seems quite obvious that SMS isn't dying. It has stayed strong despite an onslaught of chat apps and other communication tools. In fact, quite a few really smart companies have sprung up around SMS lately that suggests a very bright future for the medium. SendHub, for a great example.

The reality is that SMS can be used for online lead generation as well as any web form can. And in the physical world, its hands-down better than the non-alternative of QR-codes. If you're a realtor, you can put a short code on your realtor sign in front of houses and send information to customers who want price and size information. If you're a dealership you can put short codes on all your cars and in all your ads to provide info and capture leads. The best part of TextMyOffice, and the reason I am bringing it back to life, is that we can not only capture leads information, but hand-off the automated responder-initiated conversation to a live chat agent in your office.

We're not only bringing TextMyOffice back to life, but we're working to build the most advanced toolset for live-chat found anywhere in the SMS marketing world.

[1] TextMyOffice is an SMS company that lets you capture a lead (they text to a short code to get some automated reply with information) and then it allowed the customer to ask a question which either starts a live chat with you on your mobile, or directs the question to your office email addresses where a live coversation can continue with the customer.

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