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Marketing 101: Text "book" Education

October 2012
By: Jerry Thacker
SOME TEENAGERS TEXT BETWEEN 3,000 AND 15,000 TIMES PER MONTH.

Recently I had the privilege of conducting marketing research in a number of cities with people from more than five states in attendance. One of the discussions we had was about the use of text messaging by Gen X and Gen Y people. Some of the teenagers we talked to said that they text anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000 times per month. While the former number may seem reasonable (about 100 a day), the latter number seems excessive. And while texting may not be your preferred method of communication or mine, it is clearly the choice of a growing segment of our society.

Mark Prensky in an article entitled, "What Can You Teach With A Cell Phone: Almost Anything!" suggests that almost anything can be taught with a cell phone. The major issue is how do we form the messages and how do we send them out.

Reflecting upon this not too long ago, I decided that I would do some research into this area. What I found was truly remarkable. Utilizing nothing but text messages that are limited to 160 characters by most carriers, Japanese children are writing complete novels and posting them online as collaborative efforts. This gave rise to the thought that there are probably many principles that we could teach just using text messaging in a deliberate way. For example, let's say that we wanted to teach our teenagers the Westminster shorter catechism. It's already broken up into questions and answers. Our teaching might look like this:

Text message number one: "what is the chief end of man?"(29 characters)

Text message number two: "the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."(59 characters)

Or perhaps, we might want to teach something that had to do with HIV prevention. Our effort might look like this:

Text message number one: "can you get HIV from a toilet seat?" (35 characters)

Text message number two: "no, HIV is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids such as male and female sexual fluids, blood and breast milk." (117 characters)

Of course, you wouldn't want to wear out your thumbs by transmitting this message to multiple people on a single message basis. There are many programs that allow you to broadcast such messages to everyone on your phone list that uses a cell phone. There are also programs and services that allow you to transmit similar messages utilizing your voice. (See HTTP://www.callingpost.com, or HTTP://www.highgroundsolutions.com)

Jerry Thacker, B.A., M.A., is President of Right Ideas, Inc., and Publisher of At the Center. He can be reached at contact@rightideas.us.

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