Anybody reading this that has followed me for any length of time, knows that my background is that of a merchant services rep (credit card processing). I’ve been involved in this industry for well over a decade and have serviced hundreds of merchants from coast to coast. Over the years, I have assisted and discovered marketing ideas and tools that merchants utilize to expose their business to the masses and increase their traffic, and subsequently, their profits.My business has transformed over the years to be more “full service” as a merchant services guy. I’ve taken the job description a bit more literally as I have truly helped merchants with a variety of “services” not just credit card processing. You see, I’m really about building on long-term relationships, not simply “doing business” or “getting the sale”. The only way that I know to do that is to sincerely take an interest in my merchants and doing all I know to do to help them grow their business and increase their bottom line.The “services” I’ve recommended and assisted my merchants with has really covered a variety of methodologies. Many years ago, when gift cards showed up on the scene, I was one of the early adopters in demonstrating the wide variety of uses for them, with simplified reporting in comparison to gift certificates. Most of my merchants that were introduced to that medium are still using them successfully today. Merchants have plenty of things on their plate to deal with daily so, because of our “relationship” they often contact me to see if I know of a software or hardware system or tool of sorts that will help them more efficiently or profitably do such and such. They know that I will take the time to research for them and recommend my top picks. Whether it be the best salon, restaurant, retail software or a creative Check Guarantee system for auto repair facilities, my merchants know that I stay on top of this stuff for them and they can rely on me to steer them in the right direction.But, the purpose of this article is not to pat myself on the back or promote myself but to bring to your attention something that most every type of merchant can benefit from. It’s called “permission based marketing”. Now this could relate to several things but most often it will pertain to email and text based marketing. This is where a customer or not yet customer of yours, has “opted-in” (or given you permission to market directly to them) to your database saying it is okay with them for you to send them coupons, deals, discounts, offers, etc. What better market could you have to advertise to? These are people that like what you have to offer but hey, everybody is looking for a deal of sorts so why not capitalize on that. You could improve on a slow traffic day, promote a new or overstocked product, run a contest or survey or whatever comes to mind. The ideas are limited only by your imagination.Let’s consider other forms of marketing pieces you may have used in the past. Do you put coupons in weekly or monthly flyers or possibly ads with coupons in the local paper? How about those “deck pack” type mailers that are postcard sized ads in a package with a bunch of other businesses? What kind of ROI are you or have you experienced on those? Has it been adequate or really worthwhile? How about radio advertising… ever tried any of that? At one time and still today in some instances, email marketing works well but, response rates are dramatically falling off utilizing that method because people are inundated with emails every day and a good majority of it goes to the junk folder. So, what are you doing to capture a greater slice of the available customers out there? Keep reading!Do you have a cell phone? Does it have text messaging capabilities? If so, you are with a great majority of those carrying these pocket size communication tools with them every day and every where they go. Think about that for a minute… if you were to receive a text message right now, would you stop reading this article and check to see who is texting you? Of course you would! Think about that for a second… the reason you’d grab your phone is the exact reason, as a business owner, you need to discover more about the POWER of this one-on-one marketing.Recent Jupiter Research Shows93% of text messages are read within 15 minutes30% of consumers welcome coupons and offers sent to their cell phones20% response rates (some as high as 70%)22% of all recipients forward messages to friendsSo, let me just wrap this up by saying that the statistics are compelling and you absolutely need to check into all the benefits, and increased sales, from SMS mobile text marketing. This is the most cost effective marketing method that can be created, sent and analyzed very easily from your desktop. Quite simply, people subscribe because they like your products or services and they asking you to provide them with promotions and offers. And, as all phones with video capability become more prevalent you can expect more rich media cell phone marketing options. The future of direct marketing is already in your customers hands so why not capitalize on it before your competition does.