Banks and Barack Obama have one thing in common, whatever else: they believe in the power of texting.
Senator Obama's hugely publicized plan to announce his running mate via a text message last weekend was not just clever marketing to the media, but directly to consumers.
Everyone registered to receive the message is in a database; most recipients read the message (it seems); and they had a chance to respond directly to a solicitation, to go to Obama's Web site and see himself and his vice-presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, celebrate.
In banking, for example, we see Mastercard and Obopay now testing a person-to-person payment system, with payments initiated by text message. Both senders and recipients must register their mobiles to participate.
It's estimated that over 90 percent of texts messages are read, which is partly why British banks are doing more and more with text alerts. Texts also can prompt an immediate, measurable response. Imagine, for example, a loan offer where the bank could say, "If you're interested, text XYZ and we'll call you right back."
And one in four frequent mobile banking customers is, in fact, likely or very likely to respond to a text marketing message, according to a recent report by Javelin Strategy & Research (Pleasanton, Calif.). Of course, the Obama campaign itself shows how easily the text love-fest could end. News of Obama's 'Veep' pick leaked to the media, forcing a hasty dispatch of the text "announcement" at 3 a.m. Now, you'd want to be a die-hard fan to be happy with that.