Sometimes the most simple, direct way is the best way to use technology to connect with customers.
Text and the City, a startup that recently moved from Cleveland to Northern Kentucky, relies on the the simple text message to create an ongoing connection in small, urban neighborhoods. Text and the City offers to-the-point, local community information, news, weather alerts and coupons through humble SMS.
“I got the idea when I wanted to go to a concert series in Medina, and it was going to rain," says Text and the City founder Shawn Blain, whose background is in advertising and sales. "I thought, 'Wouldn't be great if I could just get a text telling me if it was on, or cancelled?' Or, 'Wouldn't be great if I I could just get reminders in case I forgot about an event I wanted to go to?”
Through Text and the City, users can opt-in to one or two text messages a week that include event reminders, news stories or local emergencies such as severe weather notices. The text feature works in concert with a mobile community website that features an event calendar, mobile coupons, a dining directory, a things to do page and lowest nearby gas prices.
The mobile website is accessible regardless of whether users opt into the text service. The free site launched in June 2011.
Text and the City is currently available in Fairlawn, Strongsville and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Blain moved the company to Northern Kentucky as part of the ongoing UpTech tech-business accelerator
The company is preparing to target Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati neighborhoods as it revamps based on feedback from pilot communities and the help of NKU's College of Informatics, she says. The company's long-term goal is to be in 8,000 hyperlocal markets.
Text and the City offers small and medium-sized business owners an affordable way to keep in touch with those who want to stay connected.
“When someone opts into a text service, it means they are giving you access, but a lot of businesses don't know how to properly use that access," Blain says. We think we have the right mix and frequency of texts to keep people interested and connected.”
By Feoshia Henderson
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