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Ring, Ring... Answering the Call

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Welcome to guerrilla marketing meets social media. For less than $30, you can create a marketing tool that automates permission-based text messaging. All from a t-shirt.

Here's how it works. I went to Reactee and designed my message based t-shirt. My message? "Do you want to be branded?"
I then select DrewMc as my keyword.
The shirt design software automatically adds the short code (instead of texting to a full phone number, you just text to 41411).
I then write the message (120 characters max) that I would like sent to anyone who text messages my shirt. By the way, I can change that message as often as I'd like.
So let's see how it plays out.
I am walking down the street and you see me. You wonder what the heck my shirt means or maybe you really want to know more about branding. So you whip out your cell phone and enter the number 41411 and in the message area, you key in DrewMc (with no period).
Almost instantaneously, you receive a text message back from me. Go on, try it. Yes...I really bought the shirt. Be an explorer -- give it a try.
Sounds frivolous? Maybe not.
Imagine an entire team wearing these shirts on a trade show floor. Or a new business pitch. Or a candidate's campaign team. (Remember you can change the message on the fly from a cell phone.) Or at a non-profit walk or charity event.
Come on, call me and check out my message. And then, let's get creative. How could you use this as a marketing tactic?

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Drew McLellan's a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating "a ha" moments for his clients, clients' customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.

Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.

Drew writes at his own blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute and several other hot spots.

He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books with Gavin Heaton and he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Shoot Drew an e-mail.

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  • by Spike Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Nice post, Drew. I wrote about the same thing on Monday -

  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    All right! Now I can carry Drew with me everywhere I go. He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

  • by Cam Beck Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Sending now... I dig it so far. :) Dang! I got a response before I even finished the above sentence! [gears churning] Thanks, Drew!

  • by Michael Morton Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    I applaud the effort to mesh guerrilla marketing with new media but I don't think this tactic is very useful for most businesses. There are other more viable options available. This however could be successful if your target audience are teens and pre-teens.

  • by Cory Garrison Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Too Cool, Drew! I love it!

  • by Cory Garrison Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Too Cool, Drew! I love it!

  • by Nic Darling Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Thanks for the heads up on this idea. It really ties in with a campaign idea that I'm formulating. You have provided me with one more piece of the puzzle. I will also disagree with the comment above. I think, used properly, this easily targets an older demographic.

  • by Matt Haverkamp Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    This is brilliant idea and one of those - damn if I had only thought about this. I agree with the ealrier post. My mother in law who is in her late 50s loves to text message. She would be all over this.

  • by Matt Haverkamp Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Sorry about the comment blow up. No wireless at FOOA conference - on the BlackBerry browser. Not ver efficient commenting.

  • by Matt Antonino Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Very cool but seems more like a "trick" to me - I could think of a couple uses for it though. Will have to see how it goes.

  • by Ann Handley Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    I love the idea of a charity event or fundraising leveraging something like this... it adds a call to action to event shirts as in "Text to Donate." p.s. to Matt -- I removed your excessive commenting!

  • by Patrick Schaber Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Drew, That's great! Ironically, I was looking into a different T-Shirt service for my site last night. This might be worth looking into as well. -Pat

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Spike -- but did you buy the t-shirt? ;} you see marketing applications for this? How might you use it? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Lewis, Amen to that! I can see that this has some actual marketing applications. Can you see how this might serve a function for your clients? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Cam, In your might you use this? I keep envisioning handing them out at a trade show or event. Imagine 1,000 people walking around downtown Chicago or NYC wearing your shirt and triggering this cascade of text messages. What do you think? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Michael, You know, I'm not sure I agree. I think most people in their 40's and younger are pretty comfortable with texting technologies. They either use them at work or have kids who "force" them into learning how to do it just to keep tabs on them. I think we'd be surprised how many baby boomers are even texting. But...let's assume you are correct. That assumption only holds water for another 5-10 years. Today's 20 year olds will be the next decade's marketing managers and higher disposable income spenders. Drew

  • by Cam Beck Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Drew - My first instinct is to print a keyword and address onto the tag of custom t-shirts. The return message could be reorder and contact instructions.

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Cory -- Imagine the fun we could have with this. But, do you see practical applications? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Nic, I'd love to hear more about the project you're currently working on. When it's ready to go public, it would be cool to talk about -- sort of like a learning lab! Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Matt H -- yes, I thought the same thing. I do wonder how they afford the text messaging costs or how that works. Someone must be paying for it. Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Matt A -- A trick? How so? You mean that the answer is sort of a "psych?" Let's say the shirt said: What mower cuts work in 1/2? And then the answer drove you to a website where you could get a trade show special price on some new mowing machine. Would that still feel like a trick? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Ann, Very could text them a link to a donor site where they could pay online. I think we're probably just scratching the surface of what can be done. Especially since the outgoing message can be changed on the fly. Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Thu Jun 7, 2007 via blog

    Pat, Were you looking at the other t-shirt site because you were going to write about it or you wanted to make shirts for your site? Drew

  • by patmcgraw Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    You's crazy enough to try. Yesterday, while driving on The Beltway, I got passed by a van with a promotion its rear window ... "Ask me about the power of online advertising". So why shouldn't a marketing consultant use this unique little item to catch the eye of potential clients? Hell, I have wasted $25 on what appeared to be much wiser decisions that failed to pay off (ask me about yesterday's lunch!)

  • by Jim Kukral Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Yeah, this is pretty cool Drew. Trade shows come to my mind immediately.

  • by Drew McLellan Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Pat, I think that's the beauty of many viral marketing tactics. The price of entry is so small why not give it a spin? Drew

  • by Drew McLellan Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Jim, Or you know those supermarket ladies or the people in the liquor store who hand out the wine samples? Could be a whole new way of couponing. Lots of possibilities. It will be interesting to see if this gets picked up. Drew

  • by Elizabeth Saunders Thu Jun 14, 2007 via blog

    Way to go Drew on making the top 5!

  • by Drew McLellan Fri Jun 15, 2007 via blog

    Elizabeth, Thanks for the shout out! Come back and comment on my next article and we'll see if we can continue the trend! I actually don't get the credit-- you readers do. Without comments, the conversation is pretty dull! Drew

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