» To Text, or Not to Text? That is the Question!

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/

At the 2013 Wedding MBA conference recently, I gave a presentation that included a section on texting with prospects and customers. We’re all walking around with smartphones these days, so it would seem that texting would be a natural way to communicate. Well, it is, but it is important to ask yourself how and when should you text!

When is it okay to text with a prospect?

To Text, or Not to Text? That is the Question

If you’re not already in business with someone (a prospect, not yet a customer), when is it okay to text with them? The short answer is… Never! Texting is one of the last private spaces we have, and should be treated as such. Our email inboxes are inundated with solicitations and spam. Our postal mailboxes are filled with solicitations and junk mail (my definition of which is mail you don’t need). Social media is pushing solicitations to our News Feeds. Our Short Messaging Service (SMS) – also known as texting – is one of the few places left that has only the messages we want, from contacts we know.

So, if the prospect has not texted you yet (and they wouldn’t be likely to unless you specifically encouraged that in your marketing), it’s not okay to text them first. Do you like getting unsolicited text messages? I doubt it. If you’re like most people I know, when you get an unsolicited text you are likely to yell at your phone “Oh no, you didn’t!”

So, when it comes to prospects, let them take the lead and stick to more traditional communication sales channels like email and phone calls. However, if they text you, do text them back in a timely and professional manner.

When is it okay to text with a client?

Once you’ve had meaningful contact with someone such as an appointment, a call or have signed a contract and are an official customer, it’s okay to text with them in two circumstances:

  1. They text you first – if they begin the interaction via text, then it’s okay to text them back.
  2. They specifically opt-in to allowing you to text them – meaning, you have on your contact info form wording that specifically says “It’s okay to text me.” I don’t mean in the fine print. I mean where you ask for their cell phone number with clear wording, maybe even a check box, that gives you permission to text them.

I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to marketing: “If you don’t like something someone does to you… don’t do it to your customers and prospects.” That goes for all of your marketing. If you don’t like reading a lot of text on a webpage, don’t have a lot on your pages. If you don’t like searching for the phone number on a website, don’t make yours hard to find.

Set the ground rules

When it comes to texting with clients, you need to give them some guidance on when they should text you, versus when they should email you. Other than the day of their wedding (or maybe the day before), there are no real emergencies. There are melt-downs and perceived emergencies, but no real emergencies. For me, the two times it’s definitely okay to text you are if they’re running late for their appointment, or if it is the day of their wedding. Other than that, they can email or call.

This of course can be relative to your personal preferences, some Pros may be more open to texts, but keep in mind this opens a quick, constant communication stream that elicits a quick response. If you have small children, or just don’t want to be bothered at night, let them know that it’s only okay to text during business hours, not at all hours of the night. You can also control this by setting the privacy settings on your smartphone to only alert you to texts during certain hours, or from certain people.

Texting guidelines

While doing my research for this presentation, I came across a post on the Grammar Chic Blog titled, “Little Things Matter: Texting Tips to Follow.” Here are the tips included in that post:

  1. Is the text you’re about to send urgent? There’s a different sense of urgency with a text versus an email.
  2. Can you send an email instead? Don’t get them in trouble at work for personal texts, and don’t tick them off by interrupting them.
  3. Don’t text someone who only emails you. Follow their lead.
  4. If you are going to text, make sure you adhere to grammar rules. I realize that it’s only 140 characters, but that’s no excuse for poor grammar. However, keep it conversational.
  5. DON’T TYPE IN ALL CAPS. It’s the same as yelling.
  6. Always employ punctuation. This ties in to using proper grammar.
  7. Proofread your message. It’s only 140 characters; take the time to read what you’ve written. Auto-correct is not always your friend.
  8. Consider your tone. Make sure that what you’ve written comes across how you meant it and remain professional and polite.
  9. Always include your name. Just because you have someone’s information in your contacts doesn’t mean they have yours!

I would also add a couple more to the list:

  1. Don’t use emoticons. You don’t want to come across as unprofessional, or worse, looking like a 17 year old girl.
  2. Don’t use acronyms or abbreviations. Unless you already know that they know what they mean, don’t use industry jargon.

So, by all means, include texting in your tool belt. Just be sure to use it properly to enhance the experience of doing business with you, not to detract. Happy texting (smiley face excluded on purpose)!

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments!

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