Is Text Messaging How Direct Sellers Will Communicate in the Near Future?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the field leaders of a direct selling company (hello Vantel Pearls in the Oyster!) 🙂  Something one of the leaders said really got me to thinking.  She told me that the younger consultants on her team rarely check email, and prefer to be notified of important things going on with the business via text message.  Intrigued, I put the question out to direct sellers I know on Facebook, to see if they are having similar experiences.  While the overwhelming majority replied they use email (and some had very strong feelings AGAINST texting), it is also important to note that the majority of those that answered were over 30.

Why is all this important?  As direct sellers, we MUST be focused on reaching Generation Y (while there are many definitions, for the purpose of this conversation I’m talking about those 18-29) with our opportunity, if we want a business that will produce residual income for the long term.  There is industry research that tells us that most director-level people in the sales force in many companies began the business in their 20’s.  Not all, but enough to be significant.  For a company to be a viable business opportunity over the long term, it must be attractive to Generation Y, in order to build the leaders of tomorrow which contribute to long term growth.

So what does that have to do with texting?  More and more teens and young adults text regularly, and email is starting to be considered passe by this demographic.  The socialnomics video produced by @equalman states that Boston College has stopped handing out email addresses to incoming freshman for this very reason.  As direct sellers, we need to be aware that a fundamental shift is happening, and we need to prepare for it. Email isn’t going anywhere right now.  But that doesn’t mean that in a year or two texting won’t be the new exclusive norm for communication with your team.

So what should we do about this?  As an individual direct seller, if you don’t have an unlimited texting plan on your phone (at this point, you should really have a mobile device if you’re serious about your business because mobile is also the future…but that’s another post), you need to get one, and start learning how to use it.  Stay ahead of the curve, so you’re prepared when texting becomes your new reality.    Direct selling companies and companies that provide technology solutions to these companies should be preparing for bulk texting.  We should be exploring how to make bulk texting an option for the company, as well as for distributors.  We’re also going to have to learn how to get our messages across in 140 characters or less.

A fundamental shift is coming in the way we communicate.  Will you be someone prepared for the times? Or will you be left behind?

Your thoughts?

Photo Credit: Nate Steiner

10 Responses to Is Text Messaging How Direct Sellers Will Communicate in the Near Future?
  1. Nina Anderson
    January 23, 2010 | 10:18 am

    Funny, I recently noticed that my Executive Director has been texting me more and more all the time with short bursts of information. Additionally, as I talk to the 20 somethings interested in my business, they state that they rarely use their email address but prefer to either text or talk with them on Facebook. So I certainly see this as a future direction with communication. And with so many people now having IPhone’s or something similar it’s just too convenient. You are always connected. So if there isn’t an App yet, I’m sure it’s just around the corner to make texting even easier to use, especially for mass communication to your team and customers.

  2. Brandy Sagraves
    January 16, 2010 | 12:20 am

    I am a small business owner of one person and I hate text messaging as a whole. My daughter is a pro at it and I wish she would just call those people. As a short info it maybe fine, but email and phone calls are the way to go, but again; I am over 30.

    Great article and thank you for the added value to my day.

  3. Mark Bosworth
    January 15, 2010 | 7:11 am

    First, I don’t disagree at all with your assessment of the current state of communications. If I need to get in touch with my college age kids then texting them is the best way to do it. Texting benefits from two important features:
    1) It’s short! As a communicator, you’ve got to smack yourself on the head and say duh!. No matter what your communication media (written, spoken, video…) shorter is better. As communicators, I think the implication of this is to keep all emails and written communication brutally short. (We don’t have to use “U” for you).
    2) Texting benefits from a lack of commercial traffic. Virtually the only people that currently text you are your friends/family. I predict the texting environment will start to change as more commercial entities start to use it for communications. Remember when you always picked up the phone because it was probably your mom? Well more and more texts are going to go unread as they become more commercial. Just wait for the text spam filter!

    I agree that texting is a nice option for Direct Sellers and should be used and should definitely be used for some segments. It will however evolve to be just another communications channel with its own limitations. (BTW, what is the real difference between a text that shows up on your smartphone and an email that shows up on your smartphone? They are both words on a screen in your pocket).

    Keep things short. (Kind of ironic at the end of a log post) 🙂

  4. Hans
    January 14, 2010 | 8:39 pm

    I have to say that this is a really interesting topic that has not really come to light yet since everyone is talking about social media marketing etc.

    As Margo pointed out, it is easier to keep track of clients/customers via email however how many generation Y are having big events etc. I personally see the mobile marketing going in to more delivering a quick message that sticks to just staying in contact with this market segment. More in the lines of, “We are here, don’t forget about us” and not so much as an substitute to e-mail.

    Thank you Jennifer for an interesting post, looking forward seeing how this is going to evolve in the future.

  5. Ruth Schwartz
    January 14, 2010 | 8:30 pm

    I am on the opposite end of the spectrum in that I am in what would normally be considered my retirement years, and I find myself using texting more and more with my direct selling business. However, I really don’t think email is going to go away. Getting things down to 140 characters can be a challenge sometimes and not really necessary at others. I truly think it will be a mix.

    Regarding the University not issuing email accounts, I think that makes sense from an entirely different perspective and that is that I am sure that every student shows up at school these days with an existing email address. That wasn’t necessarily the case when universities first started issuing email addresses to students.

  6. Patty Reiser
    January 14, 2010 | 4:11 pm

    I believe you have to stay up with trends and be flexible in what you offer. I keep up on what’s happening in the realm of cell phones, texting and advertising on such, etc. And right now I am working on making my blog available on SmartPhones. You have to cast a bigger net to catch more fish.

  7. Margo
    January 14, 2010 | 2:10 pm

    Hmmmm…..The only thing about this that gives me pause is that, then do you somehow store all your text messages for later reference? I have quite a few customers who prefer to be contacted via email and I really like that since I have a written record of what they liked or didn’t like about working with me or whether they had some big event coming up, etc. But I can definitely see how it would facilitate things like contacting your hostess before and the day of her “party.” Then you could maintain contact not matter where each of you are. I can see I’m going to have to consider this one a little more!

  8. Donna Roy
    January 14, 2010 | 11:01 am

    My “twently somthing” daughter rarely answers her phone, yet always replies to text messages. When I asked her why this was, she told me that texting gets right to the point. Pertinent information without the extra fluff is what she loves. When a topic is important, she engages in a call. This allows her to be in control of her time and priorities. There may be a lesson here for email as well.

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