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Making Marketing Happen Blog

Tips, Tools and Techniques for Making Marketing Happen

Mobile Shoots for the Stars

woman holding iphoneNow that more than half of American’s who own mobile devices use smartphones, marketers are striving to gain real estate and mindshare on what is, more than all its predecessors, a true personal computing platform. Smartphones are the most powerful personal communications device invented yet. They are ever present in our lives. Those of us who own them likely have our mobile device on us or nearby throughout the day. How many times do you intentionally leave home without your smartphone? Probably close to never.

Given this reality, texting (SMS) has become a widely adopted marketing tool. We’ve all encountered promotions by businesses and non-profits asking us to text a series of numbers to register a vote, think American Idol, or donate money, such contributing to the Red Cross’ disaster relief, or take advantage of a special offer, like coupons from Target. These campaigns are more likely than not to involve only one or two types of mobile interactions.

It’s campaigns that incorporate the trifecta of phone, text and web/apps that allow smartphones owners to use their preferred means to interact with brands while leveraging the platform’s broad capabilities. These integrated approaches also position the marketed brand as highly accessible and approachable, which may enhance brand loyalty.

There’s a new technology gaining traction that allows marketers to utilize the smartphone’s trifecta while putting their brands front and center in the consumer’s mind. It’s called StarStar and it’s by a company called Zoove. StarStar goes beyond the SMS common short code direct response by offering vanity phone numbers that allows companies to secure a letter-based mobile phone number that reinforces a company’s brand.

For example, let’s say Target uses StarStar. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if the company does or not.) Target could rent “**Target” and incorporate the phone number into TV commercials. Viewers who dialed “**Target” on their smartphones could listen to a special offer, or receive texts with contest information. Since the service knows where calls originate from, callers could also be routed to regionally based web content, or watch a video that features the opening of a local store.

How are early adopter companies incorporating “**” numbers into their campaigns? CBS Radio is using the StarStar technology to incorporate mobile calls-to-action into their radio stations’ broadcasts. On May 24 the company concluded a promotion that was built around the StarStar number “**WIN.” The campaign ran in 19 markets, including San Francisco, St. Louis, Dallas, Boston and Chicago.

Listeners who dialed **WIN after hearing one of the eight daily promotions were entered to win $1,000. The call triggered a text message that every caller received inviting him or her to opt-in to receive offers from CBS Local.

CBS Radio **WIN Campaign

The listeners benefited if they won the daily cash drawings. In turn, CBS Radio grew its opt-in database and reach.

The restaurant chain Omaha Steaks is another early adopter of the StarStar technology. Diners who dial **OMAHA or **STEAK hear a short message and can either speak with a representative or receive a text with a link to a special offer. Last season the NFL and Verizon used **NFL to drive people to download the NFL mobile app.

These established brands, with their larger marketing budgets, are likely to be able to accommodate the roughly $60,000 a year that Zoove charges for the vanity numbers. What about smaller businesses or individuals?

Zoove is now making it easier for consumers and smaller businesses to build their own brands through its “StarStar Me” personalized vanity phone numbers. For just $3/month, a person can secure her own “**” vanity number. The StarStar Me service shows up on the subscribers’ cell phone bill and can be cancelled at any time.

How might this work? Let’s pretend a woman named Matilda wants a vanity phone number for her company, Matilda’s Bookkeeping Service. All she has to do is go to, select her mobile carrier, and then enter “**MATILDA” to see if her name is available. (The words must be 5 – 9 characters long.) Since as of this writing it is, she just confirms the name and then a few simple steps later she has her own vanity phone number.

Using the accompanying iPhone and Android apps that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all offer, Matilda can route **MATILDA calls to her smartphone or have them trigger the sending of a text message. The text can be used to market an offer, give the caller business-related information, or tell the customer when Matilda is going to be available.

Small businesspeople who rely heavily on smartphones to run their companies and want to make it easy for their clients to remember how to reach them should take a serious look at the StarStar service.

Why not give it a try? I am.

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