We live in a world of communication. After the events of 9/11 it took approximately 5 hours for 98% of the U.S. population to be aware of what happened. Just 100 years ago, it would have taken an estimated 3 months to reach that same population figure.
Nothing defines our world of communication more then the cell phone. Most of the time, anybody can reach us, anywhere, anytime. In addition, the new cell phones are more then just phones--they are schedulers, information centers, cameras, music players--they have basically become our primary means of social organization.
For the past 3 years, SMS (Short Messaging Services) or "Texting" have been on the rise. By mid-2004, SMS messages were being sent at a rate of 500 billion messages per year.
Arts patrons are no different, it is imperative that your box office start collecting Cell numbers, if they haven't done so already. Email has a limited connection, but with SMS you can send a message to your customer immediately informing them of a promotion, a new production, or even a discount.
THE LIMITS OF SMS
• You are limited to 160 Characters, including spaces--not a lot of space to get a big message across.
• No graphics or attachments
• Not real easy to personalize just yet
• Still a "paying" medium. Customers may have to pay to receive your message.
• Tough to handle "replies" and "bounces"
• Opt outs are nearly impossible to automate
• Not sure if customer has the ability to "link" for more information
• Expensive -- even the cheapest plans cost about 10 cents a message
SMS technology is still pretty new, although the technology driving it is decades old. As we head into a world where computers and cell phones merge, SMS broadcasting should become much easier--so start collecting those numbers now.