Marketing your product with SMSes

The huge cellphone connectivity in developing countries – particularly Africa (for instance, 96% of the entire South African population) enables new cellphone-related marketing tools which use SMSes in many forms – competitions, text, special offers, etc – to be used in conjunction with traditional marketing. This has resulted in brands of any size being able to engage with their consumers where previously they could not.
/~The advantage of SMS campaigns is that they are relatively new, so this marketing mechanism is not ”crowded”.
Very important is that these kind of campaigns can be carried out at a minimum cost of around $2,000 per campaign, according to Megan Stark, MD of Johannesburg-based CubicICE, a marketing agency that specialises in the new electronic media. Thereafter there would be an ongoing management fee of a few hundred dollars per month.
Stark said: "No single marketing tool used in isolation will ensure that your existing or new product is noticed and tried by consumers. However, new electronic media – websites, blogs, SMSes, social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), etc – can be combined with traditional and innovative marketing methods to stretch your marketing rand."
First, traditional marketing
Ideally, Stark says, a company should start with traditional marketing precepts:
*    Understanding the target market.
*    Understanding your own restrictions (for instance, don’t market to create a demand for 30,000 units if your production is 10,000 units).
*    Finding the best routes to market.
*    Measuring all results, successes and failures.
Or the manufacturer might want to simply launch a new product in local retailers. This could be done with the least possible bureaucracy by personally approaching the local owners of franchised grocery outlets, and arranging for wet demos on high-traffic days (Saturdays or Sundays) done by promotions girls.
To generate publicity around the new product, street pole advertisements, promotional flyers, etc, can be used, as well as press releases.
What is important with these traditional methods is that the product/leaflet/email sent out must have a label or notice asking people something like: "SMS your name and location to this number (the SMS is then used to gather market intelligence about the consumer, like where they live, and to boost sales) and you will receive (the offer), and we will keep you informed in future of any product developments".
Stark says people will accept information which they have opted into and which is relevant to them (until they opt out – and every single SMS message must give them that option).
"If they are spammed on cellphones, they will be enraged. SMSes are much more personal than email, where a degree of spam is accepted."
Historically, in the FMCG industry, SMS promotions have focused primarily on competitions. These competitions offer the promoter the opportunity to gain a database if people who enter opt to accept information on that subject also.
But, says Stark, even the big companies which have done these competitions have often shortsightedly only used them to boost short-term sales (this is often achieved via asking the participant to SMS the last three digits of a barcode of a bought product).
Key factors when undertaking an SMS-based campaign, include the following:
*    Prior preparation must be meticulous, ensuring that the mobile angle ties in with the creative/marketing material.
*    Predetermine what you will send those who respond to your invitation.
*    A single SMS message is 160 characters, which must include the statement of option to opt out. The whole message can be in SMS abbreviation lingo.
*    Don’t send MMSes (image messages) unless you know that the target market can accept them because they will ”bomb” many cellphones.
*    Incentives, such as an offer of a discount on a future purchase of the product or airtime vouchers, can increase the success of a campaign, as well as boost sales.
Mobilitrix is a company which is expanding to a number of developing countries. Its products include:
*    Mobilivoucher (offering vouchers for products, normally redeemed at retail check-out points and call centres).
*    Mobilitext (text SMS is still a good channel for delivery of simple pieces of information).
*    Mobilimail (text-to-email).
*    Mobilitalk (usually a Please-Call-Me-type function (as offered by Vodacom)).
*    Mobiliwin (quick competitions).
*    Mobilimedia (multimedia).
*    Mobililink (allows mobile phone users to request WAP pages with relevant web links).
*    Mobiligroup (create your own mobile groups or self-selected databases).
Contact Cubic Ice: Tel +27-11-705-2545; ; website: