Spark Plug Radio: Text Message Marketing Can GROW Your Business


Spark Plug: Welcome to People You Need To Know on Spark Plug Radio. I’m your host, Spark Plug, publisher of Metro Atlanta’s premier businesswomen’s spotlight magazine. At People You Need to Know, we’re proud to promote women in business and give them world-class recognition along the way. Tune in every week as we introduce you to some of the most knowledgeable, helpful and creative businesswomen in America. Our show today is brought to you by our new official corporate sponsor, Staples, “That was easy.”

In this segment, we are going to be talking about the new trend in getting more customers for your business, using text message marketing. My guest today is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She recently received a Social Media certificate through Drury University Graduate Program. Currently, she is the marketing director of They help businesses and organizations get their message out in a very efficient and effective way. We are pleased to have on the phone today, a woman who is known as the Texting Queen of Atlanta, Ms. Marie-Antoinette  . . . welcome to the show!

Queen of Texting: Hi, Spark Plug. Thank you so much for having me.

Spark Plug: How are you today?

Queen of Texting: I am doing well. How about yourself?

Spark Plug: Fantastic and I’m trying to get better. Are you ready to talk about text message marketing.

Queen of Texting: Yes, I am.

Spark Plug: Well, let’s get right into it, okay?

Queen of Texting: Yes.

Spark Plug: Tell our listeners . . . what is text message marketing and how does it work?

Queen of Texting: Text message marketing is the newest, fastest and most effective way to get your message out. One thing I do want to say is what text message marketing is not. Text message marketing is not spam. It is actually illegal to spam people on their cell phones as of August 2004. It’s a federal regulation that the government put out. What text message marketing allows businesses and organizations to do is actually grow a list of dedicated customers to market to because those customers have chosen to opt-in and receive your information.

The way it works is, a business or organization receives a text address and that text address is placed with their other marketing materials, whether it’s on TV, on the radio, on print, or on the employees themselves, and the customers will opt-in. Text messaging is what the majority of people use now as communication versus talking on the telephone. The advertisements are used in direct correlation with their marketing materials and people will text in. They will get an auto-response message that says whatever the business would like to say, whether that’s a coupon, a promotion or some instructions, and then from that point on, the business is able to send messages directly to people’s cell phones. It’s great.

Spark Plug: Why don’t you break it down a little bit further for us. When you say opt-in, exactly what do you mean?

Queen of Texting: I’ll give an example. The best example that I know a lot of people know of is American Idol, and American Idol has been using text message marketing services for the longest, when I think of a big brand. The way that people opted into American Idol is they voted for their favorite contestant and each week you voted for that favorite contestant and the contestant with the most votes won. So what happens is a business is able to, let’s say, like you, Spark Plug, if you want to ignite your business, text the word “Spark Plug” to 46786.  Someone who wants to ignite their business and is wanting your information on how to do that would text the word “Spark Plug.”

Spark Plug: Beautiful. Well, how can a company use text message marketing to grow their business even further?

Queen of Texting: It grows businesses. Text message marketing grows businesses because it is convenient. Typically, people have three things on them, their keys, their wallet and their cell phones. Forty-six percent of teenagers can actually text with their eyes closed. So this is just a technology that they can feel and it’s really easy and usable. Ninety-five percent of text messages are read, so that means when an organization sends that message out or a business sends that coupon out, it is going to be read and text messages are responded to at a 68% response rate. So that means if you send out a 1000 messages that will say, “I need volunteers on Saturday,” you are going to get at least 680 people to respond back to you.

Spark Plug: Wow. Well, how is text message marketing different from social media networking sites that send texts such as Twitter or Facebook?

Queen of Texting: Well, the way that text message marketing is different, to put it in a nutshell, there are two things a business would have to do in order to get a customer to use text messaging. They would have to ask that customer to go onto Twitter, enter their phone number and specifically request that that business can receive their information, and that is not as convenient as if you have your own text address and you just let the customers know, “Hey, text me at 46786 to receive my information.”  And the second and the most important part of that is when a company or organization chooses to go through Twitter to send out text messages, they are collecting cell phone numbers for Twitter and not for themselves, so it’s almost like they are collecting apples for someone else’s basket and not their own.

Spark Plug: Tell us what kinds of industries are benefiting from text message marketing right now besides companies like American Idol.

Queen of Texting: Religious organizations . . . it’s probably one of my examples that I love to use the most. Because of the times that we are in, the economy is very slow right now, and there are so many people out of work, religious organizations are using text message marketing to motivate and uplift their congregation by sending out daily prayers every day, by allowing their congregation to send a text, and if they needed an immediate prayer request or if they have a “shut-in” that needs to be seen or visited.  Another way that churches are really using our text message marketing services is by doing things like sending out a text that says, “We need volunteers.”  Or if there is any specific message that you would like to hear when you come to church. It’s a very interactive tool, so organizations like churches, for instance, are finding this to be an extremely good way to pull that younger generation in as well because text messaging is so interactive.

Another way is raising funds through texting. If you send out a text to let people know that this is what’s needed, “We need X amount of dollars by such and such time.”  Because text messages are, what we call, real time, you get the information in real time — people are able to be more interactive and to make those choices because it’s right there on their phone. Another industry that really uses texting very well is the retail industry. The retail industry sends out coupons, which is very convenient to moms who are busy. You know, you don’t have to go and clip that coupon out and make sure that you put it on the table, and don’t forget it when you walk out of the house. Your coupon is right there on your cell phone, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it at home . . . so the convenience behind text messaging is great.

Another fun way, remarkable way, I would say, that text messaging is used through retail, entertainment and the restaurant industry, is the games that you are able to play. Text messaging is so interactive. You are able to do polls. You are able to do contests where the first, let’s say, ten people that text in might win or every 5th person that text in might win. The text messaging technology has a scheduler already built in, so you are able to schedule these things ahead of time and then go back to doing whatever it is that you do for a living and not worry about your promotions being sent out.

Spark Plug: What are three things you should look for when searching for a text message provider?

Queen of Texting: Oh, that is such a good question, Spark Plug. May I actually give them six?

Spark Plug: Sure.

Queen of Texting: Okay, the things to consider when selecting a text message provider is to make sure that the company owns the short codes, and that’s that number I’ve been referring to when I said if you wanted to ignite your business, text the word “Spark Plug” to 46786. That last four set of numbers I mentioned, that is called a short code. Make sure that the company owns a short code because that’s very important. If the company doesn’t own the short code, what happens is businesses and organizations aren’t able to do reporting on which text message campaigns are working and which ones are benefiting them.

Another thing to look for is to make sure that the company does not use gateway email. What is gateway email??  To ask the right questions is important as well. Gateway email is if a company has over 5,000 text messages to send out, instead of actually sending a message, it will filter through a program that sends out an email instead.  So that’s a very important question to ask text message marketer, “Do you use gateway email?”

Another very important thing is make sure that whoever you are dealing with has contact information on their website, and the reason that contact information is so important is because when you are having issues with your text messaging, yeah, if there are any, then you want to be able to contact someone, especially because the technology is so sensitive. The information is being sent to people’s cell phones. I mean, cell phones are like people’s kids. It is just something they don’t leave home without and they also protect it.

Another thing you want to know is, do they offer both per text plans and unlimited plans? If there is only one set of plans, then you might want to exit. So make sure you inquire a little bit deeper. Also, do they charge set-up fees? A lot of reputable companies charge set-up fees . . . you don’t have to charge a set-up fee in order to do text messaging, just because of the way the technology is set up, so I would just say it’s a red flag. Go out or leave, if you see setup fees. What about a free trial?  It’s to give you the ability to use this service before you try it. This is new technology, so see if they offer a free trial. Is there a contract?  Am I going to be tied into this thing? How hard is the technology to use? So those are some very important things to consider.

Spark Plug: Alright. Well, Marie, we are almost out of time, so tell our listeners how you can be reached.

Queen of Texting: I can be reached at 678-428-0046, that is my office number and also friend me on Facebook, please. It’s and also on Twitter

Spark Plug: Alright. Well, Ms. Marie-Antoinette, marketing director with . . . thanks for spending some of your most valuable time with us today.

Queen of Texting: Alright, thank you, Spark Plug. Thank you so much for having me.

Spark Plug: It’s been my pleasure.

Closing: You’ve been listening to People You Need to Know on Spark Plug Radio, the radio station connecting you to America’s leading business professionals. To listen to even More People You Need to Know, just Google Spark Plug Radio or visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Twitter @PYNTK. I want to take a moment to thank my executive producer, Ms. Jacqueline Benjamin-Thomas, for doing another fine job. For more information about text message marketing, visit their website at This is Spark Plug encouraging you to keep supporting women in business because when women succeed, the nation prospers. So until next time, always remember that you can add a spark to whatever you do and thanks for tuning in.

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