Is Free SMS marketing To Clients Good or Bad?

22 replies
I want to get a foot in the door with SMS marketing, but as stated by another Warrior who has tried it, a lot of businesses are still leary of text marketing. And even after trying different methods from WF, I'm still having a hard time getting in!

My question is to anyone who sells SMS marketing as a lead in to other things;

Would a Free month of SMS marketing be appealing to a business? And I mean COMPLETELY free. Since I'm on Twilio, even 500 messages would only cost me $5/month. And I use the drug dealer analogy that once they start getting leads and customers after 30 days, then they will HAVE to continue with me since I control their database and have (hopefully) brought more business in their door.

Are there any inherent problems with this idea? The main one I can think of is if they don't do their part to advertise or push their keyword, they won't think SMS marketing works and I've lost that client.

Would it have the same issues as the "free or not free" mobile website debate? (Where giving away something for free, the client places little worth in it?)

Plus, most people have the mindset that "free" really isn't, and always has some strings (which this wouldn't).

My (initial) thoughts are that I'd offer them a free phone number, free keyword, etc. and 500 texts, along with a consultation. I would also state that at the end of 30 days, they can continue for a monthly fee (maybe $95/mo) for a minimum of 3 months.

I'd like any and all thoughts on this idea - good or bad.


Thanks all...
#bad #clients #free #good #marketing #sms
  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    If you can show them the value why not have them pay from the start?

    Free leaves a bad taste in the mouth of business owners and managers.

    Free means you don't see the value in it. Free often means putting work into it. Paid means someone else is handling it in some way if not completely.

    Value yourself so they will value you. Because when I hear free for B2B I think it doesn't work and I will waste more of my time on it than it is worth. If it works and brings value then the price should reflect that.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5498341].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author syncjam
      Originally Posted by Aaron Doud View Post

      If you can show them the value why not have them pay from the start?
      It's just getting to that "start" point that's evading me! I realize it's not a lot, but I walked store to store the other day and handed out about 30 envelopes to managers to give to the owners (all seemed to be gone that day) and got no response.
      The envelopes had a simple flyer that had, "Want More Customers?" bold on top of the page, with a short description beneath of how SMS marketing can help. No pricing on it.

      If that gets no response, what WOULD? That's why I thought Free since owners don't have to worry about "How much will it cost"?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5498380].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author everge
    Local Businesses care about getting more customers into their business. You need to communicate to them as the authority. Giving it away for free represents no value to them. The perceived value is very important as you need to be able to demonstrate this works and you can add value to their businesses.

    Business owners look at it as advertising but in fact they need a marketing strategy to grow their business which covers all things from SMS marketing, Mobile Websites to QR codes to drive customers to their location.

    Instead of free you could offer a 30 day free trail so the cost is $$$ this amount per month but if you sign up today you get a 30 day free trail but if continued after the 30 days it will be x amount.

    If you approaching businesses with Flyers etc or calling them you need to hook them at the start so by using a headline such as Could your business handle an extra number of customers per week and advising local businesses like theirs they are getting an extra amount of customers per month with our program gives the impression of authority.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5498581].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    With restaurants you could try something like

    "Want to get your customers back into your seats more often?"

    "How often does your average customer visit?
    What would you say if I told you I could double it?"

    "Got customers? Want raving fans?
    Let us show you how."

    For a bar
    [picture of college student]
    "Tim here is going out with his fiends tonight....
    Wanna make sure they come here?"

    [picture of a postman]
    "There are a lot of great places to drink and have fun.
    Some even know my name.
    But do they know my number?"
    {clearly aimed at an older crowd here, cheers reference for those who don't get it}

    For a school
    [picure of young child frozen in snow environment]
    "His mom doesn't watch TV.
    His mom doesn't listen to the radio."
    [picture of mom looking at cell phone]
    "Why not reach her the way her friends do?"

    And this is all crap off the top of my head. Think different.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5498652].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author lanew
    I agree with Aaron here. Once you go free, your image will be tainted. If you do that, believe me, (from experience in my early days) it will get around, and then when you try to charge a new client, you will get hit with an unexpected, "but you gave it to 'Fred's Sizzles' for free." Believe me, it's easier to explain YOUR value, than to explain product, service value, or even give it free. Your time and expertise is of value, if you can't position yourself as an expert and of value in the business owners mind, then there is no amount of free anything that will get your foot in door.

    Basically, for actionable steps, I whole heartily agree with all Aaron's advice. Listen to Aaron for ideas of marketing to the new client. There are some good ones. But I expect you have a mental block. For conceptual and feel-better-it's-going-to-be-alright, then listen to what I have to say. I have over 15 years in marketing, so I know it. But, to be successful business owner of a marketing company, you have to know how to build trust with potential client. For years, I had the money to load out into my own marketing campaigns to get clients, but then I realized recently that I needed to downsize spending, etc and find a better way to market myself. Basically I wanted to be able to take control of my business when I wanted.

    Now, the rest of my post is more learning, than doing, but I think if you can change your mindset, you will see great success.

    I suggest searching for Jason Kanigan on here, (kaniganj). He gives away a TON of free information on how to "sell" your product or service by posting in various threads on WF.
    I read all his stuff, because I've been recently been struggling since I moved in local mom and pop marketing. Reading all his post was really great. Honestly, i bought WSO, BUT THERE IS No need to pay for WSO if you don't want to, because he actually (in some threads) gets into lengthy convos with other "gurus" on here about how to do exactly what it is your having problems with.
    Anyway, for your dignity, PLEASE don't give away free services. At best, you hurt all the other small marketing companies trying to educate people on value of SMS. Mobile, etc, because then we have to listen and work harder to get them off the "so and so said they would do it free." (granted, I don't even deal with those cheap skates anymore.) But, even worse, you hurt yourself, because you really don't know the damage you do to your psyche when you give your talents and energy (your are talented and a hard worker, right) away for free. And then, add the effect it has on your image as a business owner to other owners. And lastly, if you ever want to upsell them, or try keep them on as a long term client, then at minimum they will want to dirt cheap, and even worse, they will jump ship for pricing. You don't want those type of clients no matter how desperate you are for money.

    I promise you, if you can get your mind changed about your value, then you will never have to give away another free thing ever! I absolutely promise you this!

    I hope I was helpful to you.

    Be well,

    Lane
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5498929].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author BKH
      Aaron knows what he is doing here! I suggest never offering FREE. An option you may take is by increasing your price or adding a sign up fee and offering a waive of the sign up fee or (my favorite because it adds more value to your Co.) increase your prices by say 25% and as your closing tool say "I would like you to try this out so you can witness first hand the successes that I am offering. I can take 25% off for you to try it out so you can start seeing your results...<insert close here>". This gives your co. added value as they see you want prove your product works but your not giving them anything free. Just an idea!
      b
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5503380].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
        Originally Posted by BKH View Post

        Aaron knows what he is doing here! I suggest never offering FREE. An option you may take is by increasing your price or adding a sign up fee and offering a waive of the sign up fee or (my favorite because it adds more value to your Co.) increase your prices by say 25% and as your closing tool say "I would like you to try this out so you can witness first hand the successes that I am offering. I can take 25% off for you to try it out so you can start seeing your results...<insert close here>". This gives your co. added value as they see you want prove your product works but your not giving them anything free. Just an idea!
        b
        Exactly what I was going to suggest. It's like ISP companies always sending out promos. Think of what your first thoughts would be if you saw the following two 'promos'..

        "High speed internet for only $19.95 per month for the first 6 months!"

        "High speed internet FREE for the first 6 months with no sign-up, no commitment, nothing!"

        I think most would agree, what the hell is the catch with option 2?!

        It may also speak volumes to your client, your coming on as his online marketer, and the way you market your services is to charge nothing?! Are you going to drop his prices to nothing to make sales??

        Not slaggin' on ya at all, I've thought of these things aswell, but once you step back and put them in perspective with the way "real" businesses operate, it makes you second guess some of your ideas.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5511077].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author staffelseo
    Sending messages is good for marketing depending on the content of the message. You have to make it nice and don't look like spammy. Most people got interested to messages if you will approach them nicely and if the content has the benefits indicated to it. and also the more shorter the text message or SMS the more it is easy to sell or whatever. It should also be unique. Not "Do you wanted to make something blah blah blah" this is kinda a generic one. Did you get what I mean? I hope it helps.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5511114].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author syncjam
    Thanks all!! Kinda what I figured, but I guess I needed to hear it from the experts!

    Along these same lines, I have another question;

    I was thinking about putting on a webinar (for local businesses) or a local seminar that would talk about mobile marketing and the benefits to their business, and then have the main kicker being SMS marketing.

    Has anyone used this method to get mobile marketing clients? I figure if I can get them there, then they are already warm leads.

    Thanks all...
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5511148].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
      Originally Posted by syncjam View Post

      Thanks all!! Kinda what I figured, but I guess I needed to hear it from the experts!

      Along these same lines, I have another question;

      I was thinking about putting on a webinar (for local businesses) or a local seminar that would talk about mobile marketing and the benefits to their business, and then have the main kicker being SMS marketing.

      Has anyone used this method to get mobile marketing clients? I figure if I can get them there, then they are already warm leads.

      Thanks all...
      I often wonder what's going on with that method. It seems like the best way to land clients, but, it only comes up and washes away.. nobody really touts it like the magic bullet system it really is in the IM world. Not sure why...

      I'm personally currently setting up a webinar to run, I'll get prospects there through telemarketing, e-mail, and direct mail..

      It will be my first one, so I'll post my results.. I've got a guy running it who has a TON of experience, so, I'll know the results won't be hampered by my newb status in running webinars, haha.

      iamchrisgreen seems to have a lot of experience in running seminars. Maybe shoot him a PM..


      Thanks,

      James
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5511661].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Steve Solem
    Personally, I see nothing at all wrong with offering someone a free trial, especially with something like sms that costs you so little. Small business owners are naturally skeptical when it comes to someone selling them on a great way to get new customers, and while you might be able to remove some of the risk by asking them to pay upfront and offering a guarantee of some sort, you've got so little to lose offering a free trial of a marketing method we all know can be super effective.

    Sure, some people may be skeptical and wonder what the catch is with free, but I would think you'd have more luck with a free offer than getting people to give someone they don't know money upfront for a marketing idea they've never heard of before.

    Free has worked well for lots of businesses - AOL, Netflix, Columbia House, Mail Chimp, and thousands of local newspapers and local banks that offer some level of service for free - so I don't see why it couldn't work for you.

    As with anything you do to market your business, the only what to know for sure what works best is to test. You could call or mail either a free offer or a money back offer each to 100 prospects and then take a look to see which produced the most results for you.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5515323].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author UncleChucke
    FREE is the door opener....we use a Free 7 Day Trial on our website...and it gives us a way to call back in a week...to upgrade the client or at least offer another 7 days since they can build their own mobile friendly website with our platform. If they have challenges in building out the website then we offer to build it for them and it also opens the door for us to talk about our other services such as SMS texting, voice broadcasting, SEO and we give them the way to generate more NEW business.

    Good Luck, UncleChucke
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5515540].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Pine
    I think free is great as long as you charge something. I usually work out a deal for a service where I may charge $1500+ for a website/mobile site/social page and will throw in Mobile Marketing SMS campaign 1 month free with $495/mo there after if they do not cancel.

    I set it up as a simple offer of Mobile Coupons or Mobile Reminders depending on the business, and they will get 300 messages/opt ins or 30 days, whichever comes first. Usually once they achieve the 300 opt ins they are very hesitant to give up that list and just let it go.

    Granted I am fairly new to offering this, though I have been playing with mobile for my own ventures, but I have a Chiropractor who loves it, used it to replace is paper schedule book, a dentist who is using it as an aside to his voice blast service, and my local pizza place. Now that I have 3 satisfied clients within 3 miles from my house I do plan on expanding this offer and am using the other businesses to make pitches for me. My chiropractor has my business cards and brochure at his front desk, as well as in his doctors office, he even includes an sms with a link to my service once a month, something like "if this text helped you and you want your business to leverage mobile, text DoctorC to 7xxx7 to find out more", whenever he gets me a sale i agreed to give him 1/2 the first months fee, and do so once a year as long as they renew.

    Mike
    Signature
    This Signature Is Available For Rent
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5516333].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author BKH
      Originally Posted by UncleChucke View Post

      FREE is the door opener....we use a Free 7 Day Trial on our website...and it gives us a way to call back in a week...to upgrade the client or at least offer another 7 days since they can build their own mobile friendly website with our platform. If they have challenges in building out the website then we offer to build it for them and it also opens the door for us to talk about our other services such as SMS texting, voice broadcasting, SEO and we give them the way to generate more NEW business.

      Good Luck, UncleChucke
      Chuck, I have seen a lot of SMS companies use this logic for as free week or month but what always ends up happening is in 7-days when the trial is up and they haven't done anything with it (because as most of us know it takes upwards of two to three months to really see the benys) you either have to be a smooth talker at that point to talk them into now paying for it or continue to give it to them for free until they really start to see the results. The service may not cost much to you but what is your time worth that you now have to spend extra time with call backs and revisits.

      Originally Posted by Michael Pine View Post

      I think free is great as long as you charge something. I usually work out a deal for a service where I may charge $1500+ for a website/mobile site/social page and will throw in Mobile Marketing SMS campaign 1 month free with $495/mo there after if they do not cancel.

      I set it up as a simple offer of Mobile Coupons or Mobile Reminders depending on the business, and they will get 300 messages/opt ins or 30 days, whichever comes first. Usually once they achieve the 300 opt ins they are very hesitant to give up that list and just let it go.

      Granted I am fairly new to offering this, though I have been playing with mobile for my own ventures, but I have a Chiropractor who loves it, used it to replace is paper schedule book, a dentist who is using it as an aside to his voice blast service, and my local pizza place. Now that I have 3 satisfied clients within 3 miles from my house I do plan on expanding this offer and am using the other businesses to make pitches for me. My chiropractor has my business cards and brochure at his front desk, as well as in his doctors office, he even includes an sms with a link to my service once a month, something like "if this text helped you and you want your business to leverage mobile, text DoctorC to 7xxx7 to find out more", whenever he gets me a sale i agreed to give him 1/2 the first months fee, and do so once a year as long as they renew.

      Mike
      Mike, Beautifully put! We call it bolting on, adding services for free to an existing service that if not cancelled with then incur a future charge.
      b
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5519748].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    No one can argue with results in advance.

    You don't necessarily have to pitch it as 'free'. You could instead say "Let me prove it to you. Let's set up a simple campaign for the next 2 weeks and if business does not pick up as a direct result of the SMS campaign I set up for you, then I don't want you paying me a cent. If you're not happy, I'm not happy. But I know this is going to work really well for this restaurant so I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

    You get the idea. You can still give away something without cheapening it.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5521219].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
      Originally Posted by WillR View Post

      No one can argue with results in advance.

      You don't necessarily have to pitch it as 'free'. You could instead say "Let me prove it to you. Let's set up a simple campaign for the next 2 weeks and if business does not pick up as a direct result of the SMS campaign I set up for you, then I don't want you paying me a cent. If you're not happy, I'm not happy. But I know this is going to work really well for this restaurant so I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

      You get the idea. You can still give away something without cheapening it.
      That is a perfect way to do it. Simply make a guarantee of some kind. Maybe no money up front.

      The key is not to come in at "free" because free leaves a bad taste in a lot of our mouths on the other side. We expect to pay for quality services and expect a fair price. If you price things fair and sell it well you will close clients.

      The use of percentages off, no setup fees, and guarantees can help put the business owner at ease.

      For example on a hard to close customer you might say. I have a 30 day money back guarantee. If you don't see the value in this service simply tell me and we will refund your first month. And right now to put you at ease I'll offer you this service with no set up fee. That saves your $149 right now. And to show you I am committed to helping you grow your business how about we do the first 6 months for 20% off so $199/mo vs. $249/mo. How about it? There is no risk for you and I truly believe that once you see the results you will wish you had met me 2 years ago.

      Now myself I would never fire all that out there at once. Each piece is a tool to be used. A guarantee you might advertise from the start. 20% off for 6 months you would offer as a special. "20% for six months it is our New Year New Start promotion. Special ends 2/28/12." And waving the step up fee you use when you have a guy on the edge but he wont say yes.

      You have these and many other tools in your marketing and sales arsenal. Just step back and step into out shoes on the other sides. What do we want? How can your service get us what we want? And how can you show us that?

      If you have a service that will help a business owner make money and the ROI is good he will always say yes. If he says no and you know it would make him money and be a good ROI you need to step back and figure out what to do to show him what you know to be true. And thats the key too. If you know and 100% believe your services offer a great ROI the business owner will sense your confidence. You know he needs you. You're not cooky your confident. And if he says no you know the next 3 guys you talk to will say yes so you don't have time to waste on him.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5525525].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author BasilInc.
    I sell the service for $1 for the 1st month so I can get them set up with a subscription payment right away.
    But before I take on that client I make sure they commit to the program the 1st month.

    The last thing you want to do is set them up & spend the time and they don't promote the program and end up cancelling because "It didnt work".

    SMS marketing flat out works and the restaurants that are working it get between a 4-7% response rate to text blasts.

    I always emphasize to the owner that the only way any SMS campaign is going to work is if the owner/mgr pushes the program. That means he must re-enforce the program daily to the wait staff (speaking restaurants) till it becomes 2nd nature.

    I do a mandatory staff training and give them all a 5 second little cheat sheets I print out for them. Basically something like:
    Hi and welcome to XXXX my name is Basil and I will be your server this evening. Before I take your drink order I'd like to invite you to join our VIP club. If you join today you will get a free (glass of wine, dessert etc) All you have to do is text VIP to 12345 and point to the table tent.

    So to answer your question... The free month is not a bad thing but just make sure the owner will commit to promoting the marketing plan.
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5524908].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author shopperpk
    I don't think free sms marketing to your clients (regular clients) is bad because its the way you can be in contact with your clients and they remember you in future work.
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5525548].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Legacy3
    Great tips guys...and here I thought this thread was concerning another thread that suggested giving away text message marketing completely by using twitter. I definitely don't think that's a good idea either!

    Free does not equal good. And it definitely does not mean success. In fact, in most cases it means the exact opposite because it attracts the wrong people.

    Think of your service like real estate. If you are renting and you want to get good tenants you don't lower your rent. By doing that you will only get the folks who take you for granted, continue to look for free handouts, not pay you on time, tear up your property, continue to haggle with you, and bad mouth you after you gave them a discount. Instead you raise your rent to a different class of tenant and they will respect you more, treat you better, recommend you to their friends and later buy the house or other high end items from you.

    Discount your rate for the first month or two but stick to your guns on your pricing, do a good job, and your clients will value you and and the service you provide.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5529055].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author belleinc
    Everyone is speaking some very good points in truth here on this thread. Just to add here I personally offer a $97 set up fee which takes care of their first keyword option choice, and a poster for advertisement. The first month is free and then $297 per month. In my experience I have always had the business gain over 300 cell phone numbers within their first free month period. Once they get a taste, they are hooked. And from there I show them how they can gain a second keyword for voting on their their experience at the establishment or starting raffles and contests.

    SMS Marketing is ridiculously fun, and I personally love being apart of a businesses growth.
    Signature

    Let's connect on Facebook...just click here!

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5555302].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Legacy3
      Originally Posted by belleinc View Post

      Everyone is speaking some very good points in truth here on this thread. Just to add here I personally offer a $97 set up fee which takes care of their first keyword option choice, and a poster for advertisement. The first month is free and then $297 per month. In my experience I have always had the business gain over 300 cell phone numbers within their first free month period. Once they get a taste, they are hooked. And from there I show them how they can gain a second keyword for voting on their their experience at the establishment or starting raffles and contests.

      SMS Marketing is ridiculously fun, and I personally love being apart of a businesses growth.
      For $297 do you cap message limits? If so, were at? How do you handle overages?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5556780].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kickstartpeter
    Isn't text marketing Opt-in ONLY?? I have a friend that works for Velti and the messages sent are strictly regulated.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[5559308].message }}

Trending Topics