Local business helps entrepreneurs push deals via text message

Authored By Chloé Morrison

A local business is helping area entrepreneurs advertise via text message, a method that may be easier to quantify than other, traditional promotional efforts.  

“One of the great things about text message marketing is you immediately know what your return on investment is,” Mindy Benton, owner of Mindy B’s Deli, said. “I’ve done a lot of advertising in a lot of different avenues, and you don’t know if it’s worth your money.”

But when a person comes in and shows Benton a text message so that they can redeem a special deal, she can gauge how many people are responding to the promotion.

Benton is one of several area business owners using local company 423Market to advertise via text message.

Owner of 423Market Alex Self said his company has been helping local businesses advertise via text message since August 2012.

Through the company’s Local Deals Program, consumers can get information about local deals via Twitter and Facebook, and Chattanooga business owners can sign up to have their deals texted to 423Market customers.

If a person texts “423deals” to 69302, they will be opted in to receive the company’s exclusive deals via text message.

Then, local business owners, such as Benton, can send out deals to the subscribers, or Self can do it for her.

Users can also sign up individually for specific businesses. For example, to get Mindy B’s deals, a user can text “mindys” to 69302.

About 570 area people are signed up for the Local Deals Program, Self said.

With a marketing degree from UTC, Self said he knew he wanted to do something with digital advertising.

He started off his business by partnering with All American Taxi Company, putting digital ads in cabs, but that hasn’t been very profitable.

He put about $4,000 into it and has probably broken even, he said.

After the last contract expires next month, he will likely discontinue that service.

But with Local Deals, there are virtually no overhead costs, Self said.

He uses social media and cold calling to get in contact with local business owners, who can buy 1,000 text messages for $150.

It costs Self 6 cents per text, and he sells the text for 15 to 20 cents, he said.

An article in AdWeek last year characterized text message advertising as being “somewhat” successful.

Writer Tim Peterson wrote that, according to a survey done by Harris Interactive on behalf of marketing firm Placecast, only 4 percent of mobile users receive marketing text messages.

But, the survey also found that 33 percent of mobile users who don’t get ads via text expressed some interest in getting them, according to the article.

That 33 percent is a 5 percent increase from when Harris Interactive asked the question in 2010, according to the article.

Self said that the company prides itself on having good deals-none of this 10 percent off business.

And he doesn’t require a contract for the service, he said.

Benton said that, slowly, people with text deals have started to trickle into her store. She had one person tell her that they were on their way to a different place for lunch, but got her text and turned around to come to her deli.

“I’m pleased with it,” Benton said. “If you send out a text and even just two people who come in-it’s two people who weren’t coming originally.”