I recently read an article about Papa John’s being sued for $250 million for “blasting customers with illegal text messages.” This action of companies sending customers text messages advertising products without their permission has been illegal since 1991.

But aside from unwanted text messages being illegal, it’s a bad business habit.  Unless Papa John’s pizza is the best pizza available, their marketing strategy can’t afford lousy services — no matter how good they think their pizza is.  And, overtly and blatantly inundating people with spam texts is bad business practice.  It turns customers off.  In this case it resulted in a $250 million lawsuit.

Producing a more tangible effect

Far more effective for Papa John’s, and business owners who want to use text messages as part of their marketing campaign, is to get customers’ permission to contact them.  Once you get permission, send a text message thanking them for their business immediately after they make a purchase.  This tells customers you appreciate their business.  This is one way to build trust and grow relationships.  After all it is customers who keep business owners in business.

Rather than spamming customers, Papa John’s could have leveraged the opportunity to offer their customers a special deal. For example, “Attention Papa John’s customers!  Take advantage of our special offer.”  Now you introduce the offer — a reduced price, a new variety.  Or a holiday savings where you offer customers a buy one get something free deal.   And if business owners have customers’ emails this approach is perfect for introducing new products or offering a discount.  But if all you can do is text, then text wisely.

If Papa John’s had personalized the text messages and followed the above method, it could have produced a tangible effect, rather than creating acrimony and driving customers away.  And rather than suing, customers might have shared Papa John’s effort on social media, creating word-of-mouth marketing and trust for Papa John’s.  Instead, they have a $250 million class-action lawsuit.


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