advertisings final frontier

Forget TV. Radio shmadio. Billboards? Puh-lease. Why not advertise where you know consumers have their eyes and ears trained: their cell phones.

Imagine having the power to send advertising messages directly to devices in the palms and pants pockets of your best customers. Well, now you do. Services from marketing vendors like Textalert.com (www.textalert.com) enable retailers to send text messages straight to a customers’ wireless phone.

With the online service from Textalert.com, small and mediumsize retailers can inform patrons of promotional messages, marketing campaigns and other special in-store events. Imagine the sales potential of supplementing in-store advertising efforts with a text-messaging campaign informing customers of a grand opening, a sale on new items or even a decrease in pump prices. Retailers might also use such a service as a tool to move excess inventory (i.e., a message reading, “Stop in for a 2-for-1 deal on a hot new cold beverage”).

Users simply go online and enter a message, input the phone numbers of their customers into an online address book, and click “send.” The service operates on a prepaid credit system, with no sign-up or subscription charges, and no additional software is needed to use the service from a Web-enabled PC. Furthermore, Textalert.com can send messages-through all major U.S. carriers. Prices for the messaging service start at around 13′ per message for low volumes, though discounts of up to 50% are available at higher volumes.

Text-message marketing is already an established promotional channel in Europe and has become a burgeoning phenomenon in the U.S., especially on college campuses. Currently, Americans send and receive about 2 billion text messages monthly, but industry analysts estimate that the number of text messaging users in the United States will reach 75 million by 2007, and those users will send 44 billion text messages monthly.

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