Viola Davis, the two-time Tony Award-winning actress and star of the ABC drama How to Get Away with Murder, made history in 2015 when she became the first African-American woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
For Viola, who says she “lived in abject poverty and dysfunction” during her childhood, the Emmy was a crowning achievement in her career and a testament to what’s possible when an admittedly shy, quiet child commits to observing life and people, and then grows up to pursue a career which requires her to articulate the human condition.
Like acting, marketing also requires an intense commitment to observing people’s wants, likes, desires, and frustrations—and then communicate the value of a problem-solving solution.
And like Viola Davis, who recently shared her secrets for achieving happiness through a series of short snippets reported by Vulture.com, text marketing aims to distill complex messages into concise communications that can be delivered with passion and panache.
Here are eight more ways text marketing is like Viola Davis:
1. Clarity is everything.
When marketing via text, your subscribers need to be crystal clear on what to expect from your program. It doesn’t take much—a mention of what to expect shared through an auto-reply message will do the trick—but they need to know what kind of text messages they can expect to receive from you.
Viola demonstrates such clarity when discussing her role as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder: “As an actor, every opportunity, every role, everything that I do is an opportunity to have someone have a human experience with my work. I don’t just want it to be about a cute wardrobe and a high paycheck.”
2. Communication requires consent.
Text marketers are required to have permission from subscribers before sending them texts. The easiest way to receive permission is to have your subscribers opt-in by texting a keyword to your short code. Once done, you’re all set. However, if you’re uploading lists or adding subscribers one at a time, you’ll need to have their written consent on file. If you don’t, you could be subject to some pretty stiff legal penalties, as well as damage to your brand.
Viola knows that before you can engage an audience, you need them to buy into the role you’re playing. Ultimately, she credits her background with giving her an advantage as an actress. As she told Vulture.com, “I learned that I had a facility to really be authentic with characters, because I was very shy and very quiet so I could observe life and observe people. So I could integrate that into my work.”
3. Don’t overdo it.
Just because someone said you could text them doesn’t mean they want to hear from you every day. This is especially true of business texts. When text marketing, try to limit yourself to two to four texts per month. More than four is overkill and likely to trigger cancellations.
When playing a hardcore law professor and criminal defense attorney on How to Get Away with Murder, Viola routinely delivers performances that build to a dramatic crescendo without ever becoming over-the-top or heavy-handed. She’s a case study in effective self-restraint.
4. Include disclaimers.
Marketers who are texting subscribers need to be mindful of the CTIA’s requirement to include the disclaimer, “Msg & Data rates may apply.” It only needs to appear once when subscribers join your list—and any decent text marketing service will add this and other disclaimers to your auto-reply messages for you—but it’s something you should be aware of.
With Viola, of course, no disclaimers are needed.
5. Give them a way out.
As with email marketing, you always want to give your subscribers a way to opt out of your text communications. If you’re using a text marketing service, they should extend this option to subscribers on your behalf. If you’re doing it yourself, just be sure to include “Txt STOP to cancel” in your auto-reply, just like you did with the disclaimer above.
Part of Viola’s game plan for finding happiness called for her to embrace her fears and learn to let go. In acting—and in business—you can’t be all things to all people, but you can always do good work. Let that be your guide.
6. Do business during business hours.
This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Just as the people who opt-in to receive your texts don’t want to hear from you every day, they also don’t want to be receiving your business texts outside of normal business hours. So be considerate and restrict your text communications to your business’ normal hours of operation.
No industry understands the importance of consistency in programming better than the entertainment industry. How to Get Away with Murder returns on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 10:00 PM EST. That’s where you can see Viola in action because that’s where she’ll be, as expected. See how that works?
7. Use regular words for regular folks.
Although it may be tempting to use short-hand in your text messages, it’s not advisable because it can be confusing to recipients and the sender runs the risk of appearing unprofessional. If you absolutely must abbreviate, select the most obvious words in your message. But strive to use regular words for regular folks.
Although Viola speaks in sentences that convey the crisp enunciation of her Juilliard training, her words and voice reflect someone whose background and training have equipped her to speak comfortably and at-ease with anyone.
8. Make it worth their time.
Again, like email marketing, every text you send should deliver real-world value. Vary your campaigns to keep your text communications fresh and relevant. The whole idea with text marketing is to make your subscribers feel like they’re part of a special group.
Now that Viola is in a leading role, she always makes a point of talking to crew members and keeping things pleasant on the set. As she told Vulture.com, “I always nurture a relationship that makes people feel like they’re important, like they’re a part of the collaboration. I feel that way about the young actors on set. I don’t talk to them like I’m the mentor; I talk to them like they’re my peers. And I learned that from Meryl Streep.”
The parallels between entertainers and marketers aren’t always obvious, but both groups are charged with communicating powerful messages to audience members.
As you implement text marketing in your business, remember that your communications should be concise, fresh, and relevant. They should be true to who you are as a business owner and you should deliver them—like Viola delivers hers—with equal measures of passion and panache.