Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Mess up Valentine's Day!

By: Brad McMullan

Question: Is it a good idea to forget to get something for your special someone on Valentine's Day?  No brainer right?  The answer for anyone (with any clue) is NO!  You better get them something for Valentine's Day or you could be alone on the 15th (not joking).  While it is a no brainer to buy something for your Valentine on Valentine's Day, it should also be a no brainer for a business to capture customer information while they shop.

This is a not a usual love story or advice column for the most romantic day of the year, instead this is an article about the unspoken love story between retailers and their customers.  Like it or not, Valentine's Day is a crucial time for some retailers.  The retailers fall in love with all the traffic at their store, because guys and girls are shopping to get a special Valentine's Day gift for their special someone.  Even my brother, Brent, who hates shopping with a passion, will be out and about in the next 24 hours picking up something for his wife Robin.  But just like every year, once the day is gone, the chance to talk with the occasional shopper or customer is gone. 

Think about it... How busy is a flower shop on February 15th?  What about a jewelry store?  Limo company?  Fine dining restaurant?  Most go back to gearing up for Mother's Day. But not if you have business texting.  What would a retailer pay to be able to talk with all of the people who come through their door on Valentine's Day- two weeks later?  You can with business texting. 

In 2013, people of all ages send text messages. I'm sure Cupid himself has a cell phone (heart shaped).  In fact, there are 34 million more active cell phones than people in the United States (not sure about fairies like Cupid).  And because people have their cell phone within 3 feet at all times, they are texting.  Every day, Valentine's Day included, people in the US alone send out more than 4.5 BILLION text messages (that's 3X the number of phone calls made) and according to Nielsen, 98% of those text messages are OPENED!  Yes, texting is the most powerful communication tool EVER!  

So how can a retailer take advantage of the popularity of texting with their customers?  It's simple, ask them to opt-in (text a keyword like LOVE to their texting number).  Once they opt-in, the flower shop, gift shop, limo company, jewelry store and fine dining restaurant can now talk to them at anytime to invite them back or send them a special promotion.  If you want to use this technology within the next 24 hours, call 601-487-8824 or email and someone will get you set up.  Make the Loveliest day of the year, last all year round.  Now that's what I call everlasting love!  

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Anatomy of a Text

So, you’ve got a texting service. You’ve got subscribers. Now it’s time to send out a message.

In working with clients, it often seems like the main objective is to “just get a message out”. It’s a Deal of the Day. It’s a notification of a cancelled meeting.

But it’s also 160 characters that work together to communicate something of importance. And sometimes in our haste to simply “get the message out”, we overlook something.

Each one of those 160 characters is singularly important. Why? Because text messaging has a 98% read rate.

That type of number begs responsibility on our part to keep the content vital & relevant. Or risk losing a subscriber.

Your customers cell phone number is a valuable commodity. And after the exploitation our email addresses have received, it’s probably not something given out lightly.

Make sure your message counts.

Don’t waste valuable real estate with unnecessary or repetitive words or phrases. Don’t get too carried away with overcapitalization and punctuation. Sometimes it can be misinterpreted as yelling.

I once saw a client send out a message promoting catering with no less than 12 exclamation points! (Four after each one of her three sentences.) She could have used just one for each- and then had enough space to include her phone number, so subscribers could easily reach her to place an order.

Strategically thinking through how to best utilize this real estate of 160 characters will take your efforts to the next level. Being creative by using links to videos, social media pages, as well as phone numbers and email addresses are all great ways to create a call to action in your texts that keeps the communication cycle going.

So, that being said…happy texting!

Amy Mardis
VP Communications

So My App is Live

Congrats! Your app is live. But how do you get people to download it? How do you tell people about it? Depending on your business or organization will depend on how you market your app. 

Let’s first start off with things to know before you promote your app. 
  1. What is the name of your app
  2. Be familiar with how to download an app
  3. Your app is built for the iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, Android and all Google platforms. You also have an HTML 5 version of your app built for all other mobile devices
  4. Know which keywords you can search in the App Store that will generate/populate your app
How do I get people to download my app?
  • It could be a news let’s start with a press release. Some of the apps we've designed and developed were covered by local news organizations. Send the press release to news stations, newspapers, radio stations, etc. Be sure to highlight the features in the app, the value of having an app and why you bought the app. If you're a school, don't forget you can promote it in the school newspaper. 
  • If you have a texting plan, send a text about the app. Include a link for both iTunes and Android. We can provide you with a link so it all fits in the text. Or because our texting plans are managed, we can send it for you. 
  • Take advantage of the two complimentary flyers we custom design for you - then you can place the flyers in the store, lobby, church offices, break rooms, etc.
  • Restaurants and retailers - have 2 QR Codes on the sales receipt - one for the iTunes app and the other for the Android app.
  • Any marketing material you're printing, promote the app.
  • Churches - include it in the Sunday Bulletin and in the PowerPoint slide that rotates before & after service. You can also make an announcement about the app.
  • Non-Profits - place it in the bulletin, newsletters and send an e-mail promoting the app. You can have a QR Code for Apple users to scan and another QR Code for Android users to scan.
  • Utilize your social media platforms. For a period of time, change the cover photo to an app promotional piece and the background on your twitter page to an app promotional piece. On Instagram - on the "about us" section include links to download the app. 
  • Have a billboard rotating in town? Promote the app. It can simply say - "We Have An App For That!" and include an image of the app.
  • Any time you're in front of a group of people, ask them to download the app. 
  • In your e-mail signature, include a link to download the app.
  • Make a quick 30 second YouTube video telling people about the app. Let your followers, customers, members, etc hear from the CEO or director about the app launch.
  • Launch a rewards program! Use the app's loyalty program. 
How do I tell people about it? 
  • "Research says, your mobile device is within 3 feet of you at all times. Lets test that! Grab your phone real quick. By the looks of it, it's true! Now open up the App Store on your phone and search "name if the app" and download our app! We are where you are and this is another way you can stay connected. 
  • "Stay connected! Download our app today. Search "name of app" and let us know what you think about it by posting a comment on our fan wall!"
  • "It's app for an app day! Show us you downloaded an app and get half off your appetizer today!"
  • "Tell us how we did! Download our app in the App Store and fill out the survey. You're then entered to win a $50 gift card."
  • "Looking for a job? Download our app and apply for a job today!"
  • "Order your food on our app! Download it in the App Store today! Search "name of the app" or scan the QR Code."
These are just a few of the ways you can increase the number of downloads and how you tell people about it. Depending on your business or organization depends on your marketing strategy. We are here to help you! Have questions? Feel free to e-mail them to We'll do our best to answer you. 

Heather Sophia 

Friday, February 1, 2013

He Called It...

Today was the day it happened.

Our CEO, Brad McMullan, saw a tv commercial about unwanted text messages. It was a scenario that he's predicted MANY times for the last few years. The ad went something like this...

"Unwanted calls and text messages from businesses who don't have permission to your private information could entitle you to between $500 and $1500 for each and every unwanted call or text that you receive to your cell phone."

For as long as we can remember, we've watched attorney advertisements about car accidents, divorces, bankruptcy, etc. But today that changed. Now attorneys are pursuing victims of SPAM texts. Think of those SPAM e-mails you've received. Chances are you've never subscribed to that SPAM e-mail. I mean let's face it, our e-mail accounts are now set up to identify those SPAM e-mails - and there's even a folder for it. AND you don't even see it. While e-mails have to follow a set of rules and guidelines, the rules are tighter when it comes to unwanted text messages. Dozens of companies have already been sued for millions of dollars because they didn't follow the rules. The #1 rule that is broken... the person receiving the text message did not OPT-IN.

That's why our clients have their customers subscribe to the text alerts. That means customers are physically opting-in to the text alerts, info, deals, etc. By "physically opting-in" that means the customer opened up the text message app on their phone, typed in the phone number and keyword and then hit send. That means our clients complied with the FCC guidelines. When the customer physically opts-in, the customer is giving the business permission to text them. also has record of them opting-in. Simple math. If you send out a thousand messages (to customers who didn't physically opt-in) and are fined $500 for each message, you just cost your company $500,000!  Here’s a look at a few companies and the lawsuits associated with sending text messages the wrong way: 

Rolling Stones: $5 Million Lawsuit 
Simon & Schuster: $10 Million Lawsuit
Timberland: $7 Million Lawsuit
Twentieth Century Fox: $16 Million Lawsuit 

NOW LISTEN!  Don't let this scare you away from business texting, just know what the rules are and comply. Example: We know it is against the law to drive on the wrong side of the road. If we do it, we can get a ticket or in an accident for that matter. But because some people may break the law or that there are rules in place, it doesn't scare us from driving.  Texting, when done correctly, is vital to growing a business or organization.  If you don't follow the rules when you make a TV spot, guess what, you will also get fined from the FCC. Doing things the "right way" should not scare people away from driving, putting ads on TV or business texting. is up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations. Have any questions? E-mail and we will do our best to help you and your business/organization do it the right way. 

Happy Texting, 
Heather Sophia EVP 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Learn From One Company's BIG Mistake

Learn From One Company's BIG Mistake 
All I Want To Do Is Import Numbers…

So you've spent all this time developing a database of customers…and in that database, you have e-mail addresses, physical addresses, names, a list of some of the stuff they like…but most of all, you have their cell phone number. It's one of the most protective pieces of information about your customer. 

Now that you've bought this texting plan to communicate with your customers, all you want to do is take those mobile numbers and import them into your texting plan. Sounds Genius! We agree. I mean you've spent all this time working so hard to get all this data…it only makes sense to take advantage of what you have and grow your business.

Let me start by telling you a story about a company who prides themselves on oil changes. It's been the lifeblood of their company for more than 30 years servicing more than 22 million customers every year. They thought the same thing as you - I have this database of mobile phone numbers and all I want to do is import these numbers into a text message platform and send a message.

Here was the problem with this award-winning company. They didn't follow the rules. Rules schmrules - I know but when it comes to texting we have to follow them. What the automotive vendor did was take a list of mobile numbers they already had - and sent them a text message without permission. That means the customer never gave the company permission to send them any type of text message. So the genius idea cost them BIG bucks - as in $47 Million! All because the customer didn't subscribe to the text alerts. (Subscribe means the customer physically opted-in to the text alerts on their phone - not on the web, but on their phone.)

So now what? We need to know the rules. Knowledge is power. Here are a few key guidelines to follow when texting your customers: 

  • Customers must subscribe to the text specials, info reminders or mobile info club
  • Once the customer subscribes, they will automatically receive a confirmation text - and in that text we have to have 3 specific things: 
a. identify your business
b. message must contain the following wording: Standard data rates apply
c. we must inform our customers how they can unsubscribe with the very first message we send them. We do that with the following wording: Text Stop to quit
  • Now that the customer has given you permission to text them, you can legally send text alerts

We look forward to serving you!

Heather Sophia
EVP Grand Opening

#1 Christian e-commerce website with visitors from all 50 states and more than 135 countries celebrates it's grand opening in Madison County, Mississippi. To God be the Glory! Sell your car, truck, home, electronics, furniture, jewelry, books or music today on! your website with a purpose!

Guest speakers at the grand opening included: Congressman Gregg Harper, Mayor Gene McGee, Captain Ken Chapman of the Salvation Army, FCA Director Bill Buckner and Chief Meteorologist @ the Jackson, MS NBC Affiliate Barbie Bassett.

Click on the picture below to watch the grand opening re-cap video!

Monday, September 10, 2012 is now the business texting provider for another Chick-fil-a location! Hello Niceville, Florida!

Pictured above is Chick-fil-a Founder/CEO Truett Cathy and Founder/CEO Brad McMullan inside Truit's office at the Chick-fil-a headquarters. Did you know Mr. Cathy opened his very first restaurant in 1946?

During their meeting, Truett told McMullan "There is no difference between Christian principles and good business principles."