Local eateries start marketing with new text message service

Afr8d ur missing specialz @ ur local hangout? You may be in luck.

Cleveland Heights entrepreneur Dan Murphy has created a way for businesses to integrate cell phone text messaging into their traditional advertising programs.

Murphy, 27, said his firm, Smart Messaging, is the only one offering this marketing service to local businesses.

“Small businesses think, ‘It’s so expensive, I can’t do it,’” said Murphy of his texting services. "But it is less expensive and more effective than traditional advertising." 

Here's how it works: A business that uses the service tells patrons they can receive special offers by opting to receive text messages. Patrons opt in by sending a special code for that business to the Smart Messaging server at 95495.

When Smart Messaging receives the code, it responds by sending out a coupon or offer designated by the business. The patron's phone number is saved, enabling the business to send mass e-mails with offers, business announcements or other relevant information.

Consumers can opt out at any time by texting "STOP" to 95495.

Regular text rates apply, but other than that, the service is free to consumers.

Craig Sumers, owner of Lopez on Lee Road, is one of Murphy’s clients. During August, he offered $20 off the table's bill for customers who texted “LOPEZ." “After one text, we have almost 400 people on our texting list,”  Sumers said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s really been a spectacular response.”

“There are two reasons Craig was able to get so many people to text in so quickly,” Murphy said. “First, he offered a great deal... $20 off. And second, he did a great job of promoting the text offer by sending an e-mail blast and also asking his servers to inform customers about the deal.”

Sumers said he’ll be texting patrons every Friday with the latest deals and menu specials.

Declan Synnott, owner of the Cedar Lee Pub on Lee Road, has signed on to Smart Messaging as well. Cedar Lee Pub patrons can text "Pub2" to receive food and drink specials.

 “I think it’s going to work very well,” said Synnott, who plans to start texting specials every Friday starting in September. “Ninety-seven percent of texts are opened, compared to 25 percent of e-mails; that’s why we’re doing it.”

For more information contact Dan Murphy at 216-233-2665 or dmurphy@smartmessage.me.

Kaitlin Bushinski is a recent graduate of Oberlin College and a summer intern for the Heights Observer.

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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 4:45 AM, 08.21.2009