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RISMEDIA, August 23, 2010—So often here at Monday Morning Mobile we have the opportunity to look at all the great things that are going on in the Mobile Technology world and marvel at them – and we should. There are a lot of companies and individuals utilizing today’s mobile technology to engage consumers, capture information and drive business. However, there are also quite a few who have tried and failed…badly. In talking with my colleague John Packes, he brought a few such cases to my attention (which he also detailed in his blog,, so I thought we would take a look at what NOT to do when creating your mobile initiatives.

A good example of what not to do can be seen in one of America’s favorite chain restaurants, TGI Friday’s. Their mobile initiative was designed to get people to join the “Give Me More Stripes” rewards program via text message. Their first mistake was their advertisement; it simply tells you how to sign up, not WHY you should sign up.

There is no call-to-action. Why do I need more stripes? Do I have any stripes now? What are the ones I have or the ones I am going to get any good for? When designing your Mobile initiatives, make sure you give someone a clear reason why they should take 30 seconds out of their day, stop what they’re doing, and text in. For example, an interested home buyer will take 30 seconds out their day to text in and receive property information, pictures and the agent’s contact information about a property they are interested in buying. I am not going to text if I don’t even know what the stripes are for!

Their second big mistake is that their instructions are confusing. “On your cell: Text JOIN (5646) to MYTGIF (698443)”. One of the biggest mistakes ever made by mobile marketers was to think it’s a good idea to have a branded short code (i.e. MYTGIF). Today’s devices with full QWERTY keyboards do not have the letters above the numbers like our old home phones did. Next, do not use both words and numbers simultaneously, it only confuses people. For example, had they put in their ad, “Text JOIN to 698443,” it would have been very clear where I am sending the message and what I am typing in the body of the message.

Putting the first two mistakes aside, let’s assume your waiter or waitress told you about how great it is to get more stripes and they even explained to you what to text and where to text it to. The third and most startling problem is simplicity and common sense, TGI Friday’s program has none. They could have set it up so you text in and DONE, you’re enrolled to “Get More Stripes!” But no, once you text in you still have a long way to go before you are registered to “Get More Stripes.” The text message you get back says “you’re close, click the link to finish.” Once you click the link to finish you are taken to a Mobile Website, which you then have to click again to enter and register. Once you enter, and this is the kicker, to register they ask you to fill out a form with your full name, address, cell phone # (which they already have since you texted in), date of birth and e-mail address. I’m sorry, but I am not filling out the Census twice this year for a few extra stripes at TGI Friday’s.

This could have been a very successful program if done right. After taking an in depth look, the underlying idea was good. Get people to join the rewards program, which entitles you to FREE appetizers and drinks, by texting in from your mobile device, which you will definitely have on you at the restaurant. Sure, why not? Makes sense to me.

It could have been so simple, “For Free Drinks and Appetizers TEXT Join to 698443,” quick and easy. Instead, they did what NOT do to and wasted a lot of time, energy and resources on a program that failed before it even started. The worst part is they did it to themselves by not engaging the right company or personnel to run this Mobile initiative.

Seth Kaplan is the president of Mobile Real Estate ID. Contact him directly at or, for more information, visit