Editor's Note: As part of Marketing Month, we're revisiting some of our best, and most importantly timeless, articles of marketing advice.

Young people are all thumbs these days, and Dino Andreakos, owner of Bullfrog Builders, in College Point, N.Y., is taking advantage of it. “I know plenty of people in their 20s who build first dates from texting only from an initial introduction,” he says.

Taking a cue from real estate agents, Andreakos started using an SMS (short message service) five-digit code, a dedicated number that people can text to get more information. Since SMS short codes can cost from $500 to $1,000 per month (depending on whether they are random or customized) and because people have come to see them negatively as unwanted solicitation, Andreakos switched to a cell phone number dedicated to receiving and sending text messages.

Andreakos saw SMS as the next big thing and has the cell phone number on his job signs. When a prospect texts the number, an office manager replies with Bullfrog’s contacts and asks what work the prospect is interested in getting information about. This usually leads to a text conversation until it comes to questions about price. That’s when someone from Bullfrog will call to speak with the prospect.

But the company must comply with the law by asking prospects if they will allow a follow-up call on their cell phone.

LEASING NUMBERS: Short codes to receive and send text messages are issued by the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA). They are not owned but are leased monthly by companies or SMS service providers.

More Open Dialogue

“We still have our 800 number on our sign,” Andreakos says, “but we find the younger generation seems to shy away from wanting to talk. They have a more open dialogue when they text.”

For every three calls on a jobsite, Bullfrog gets one text. “All the younger homeowners will text us,” Andreakos says. “They’re not the type to call a 1-800 number.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

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