Zipcast Episode 20: Bonin Bough – Texting Customers During the Coronavirus Crisis and Beyond

Just as the coronavirus crisis began intensifying in late March, Scott Heimes spoke with Bonin Bough, a world-renowned marketing strategist, investor, texting aficionado and author of “Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life“. They chatted about all things texting, including texting customers during the crisis we’re in today.

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Scott and Bonin discuss:
• The dangers and opportunities for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak
• Companies that are texting customers successfully
• Approaching texting for business with the right ethos
• The importance of retaining the purity of the texting medium
• How to build relationships with customers using text

Links to Bonin Bough
• Book: Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life
• Website: Bonin Bough

Podcast transcript:

Scott Heimes: Welcome to the Zipcast where we talk about the latest trends in texting for business, customer communication strategies and technology. I’m your host, Scott Heimes, chief marketing officer at Zipwhip, and thanks for tuning in.

Scott Heimes: Even before the coronavirus outbreak, Bonin Bough bow had a lot to say about texting, but now he has even more to say about how texting can be used to build relationships with customers during this difficult time. Bough is a world-renowned marketing strategist and consultant and also the author of Txt Me, a seminal book on how texting is changing the way businesses communicate with their customers. He claims to have texted with over 50,000 different people. That’s a lot of texts! Hunker down with us for a wide-ranging, fun conversation with practical takeaways for businesses striving to navigate through this challenging time.

Scott Heimes: Bonin, welcome to the Zipcast. It’s great to have you here.
Bonin Bough: I am excited to be here, Scott. It is unprecedented times my friend.
Scott Heimes: I know that you, as the author of Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life, have a great love for texting and there’s so much more about your background that I want to hear about and have us fill in. But I think it’s worth acknowledging that we’re in the midst of the coronavirus crisis right now as we record this, and we’re going to have … We’d normally have you in the studio, but we’re on a Zoom call instead, so the audio may be a little bit compromised.

Bonin Bough: Yeah, man, I’m a big fan of you guys and I’m just excited to have the opportunity to speak to you and just talk about the situation. I feel like it is … Clearly, you know how I feel about messaging. It is the place where the most amount of human attention is today. Well, I guess that’s a generalized statement, but even right now today we’re seeing just such an increase in that personal communication channel and the importance of it, and how it’s utilized for us to kind of get through these insane times.

Scott Heimes: I agree. I’m anxious to talk to you about how you think businesses can leverage texting during this critical time, but let’s first set the stage for our listeners. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you’re the author of an amazing book called Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life, but there’s a lot more to your background. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bonin Bough: Text me 646-759-1837. If anybody sends in, sends #Zipwhip, I will send you a free copy of the book. Yeah, man. It’s interesting. I built two global digital agencies, one privately held. Actually three agencies, one in college, which was not global, but it was a tiny little company. But we did the first Jordache website—“the Jordache look, working, playing, day or night.” Yeah, it haunts me. Then I sold that and I was going to Columbia to become a political philosophy graduate student. I thought I was going to teach. During that summer, I figured I’d freelance program to make a little extra cash and I went to an internet party, and there was a vodka fountain and a shrimp boat, and I was like, the internet is amazing.

Bonin Bough: It was ‘99 and then of course the bottom fell out. We were lucky, we had a lot of pharmaceutical clients, so our business held tight. Then we grew that business, opening up Asia, Europe, so on and so forth. Latin America, San Francisco, and then I left there after seven years and I went to IPG where I ran their investment groups. So I did the first … a lot of startup investment during those times. I led the first investment in Facebook, which was the first time a holding company had invested in Facebook, and a bunch of those kinds of things. Then I built a global digital agency inside of there. Then I left because I realized that clients were too stupid to buy good work, so I figured I’d go become a dumb client. So I went over to be chief digital officer at PepsiCo, early days introducing this social media thing to Pepsi. I did that for about five years.

Bonin Bough: Then I left there and I went to Mondelēz to run … I was Chief Media and E-Commerce Officer for them running their media buying across the globe, about $3 billion and also their e-comm business, which we grew from 65 to 265 million in the 18 months that I ran it. Then I was living in China writing the book, watching WeChat grow, and said, you know what, I’m going to quit and investor messaging tech and I’m going to become rich. Then I didn’t.

Bonin Bough: I met a guy named Rich, Richelieu Dennis, who had a natural beauty business, the largest at the time, about 200 million. He asked me to work with him and we did that. We invested a little bit of money and we took that business from 200 to 300 million and sold Unilever for a little under a billion using purely messaging as the way to our eCommerce growth. It just made me realize that not only was this the right channel, but that it was going to just be explosive and even greater growth that businesses can take advantage of.

Bonin Bough: So anyway, that’s my background. Now I am solely focused on building messaging companies.

Scott Heimes: Fascinating background. You’ve done a lot of different stuff. So tell me about … You were in China and that’s when you kind of developed this fascination for messaging, as I understand it.

Bonin Bough: Right.

Scott Heimes: Now today, what’s your take on the marketplace and just the use of texting in particular for business communication?

Bonin Bough: It’s such early days. I think that there’s two things. One, I think the most important is those that stand with the ethos of “do no harm.” What I love about you guys is that you guys aren’t new to the game. You guys have been doing this for 13 years, I think it is, 12 to 13 years. Always with a singular focus, which is how do I provide the most amount of value to the consumer and how do I protect the consumer so that this doesn’t become something that looks like it’s being taken advantage of. So I think the first thing in the landscape is the players that I think are going to stand the test of time are those that really have an ethos and really center on making sure that they’re adding value and protecting the customer. So I think that’s first.

Bonin Bough: Then I think the second piece to me is how do you create the most expansive platform that messaging can provide? Because we’re spending so much attention, because this is the channel that we connect with, how do we create the most amount of opportunity within that channel for businesses to provide maximum value within that experience? So one of the things OpenMessage, which I’m the CEO of now, it’s one of our investments, is really looking at how do we expand the aperture of what’s possible inside of messaging? Because this is the place where you’re spending your most amount of time, how do we provide the most amount of value for you? So I think the two things for me are those that protect the customer and those that create the most amount of value.

Scott Heimes: Got it. Interesting train of thought.

Bonin Bough: There’s so many companies springing up, man. It’s crazy. We have nine investments right now. When I say we, Bonin Ventures. So we have a venture fund. We have nine investments and it’s everything from a company called One Cue where you get surveys inside of text to a baby food business, which is text-to-buy, text-to-talk, which is on fire. There’s just, the use cases and the business cases are so vast and we’re just now scraping the surface. So the landscape for me, it’s just so young. It’s just so young. But how do we protect it because it is so personal to people.

Scott Heimes: Yeah. So you referenced earlier about opening the aperture of the messaging channel and creating more ways, I’m assuming, to communicate and to leverage this specialness of the medium. What were some of the ideas behind that? What do you mean?

Bonin Bough: I think right now it’s interesting. We sit in a unique time and, first of all, I’m very blessed that the listeners are taking their time out and that you’re taking your time during this quarantine moment to talk to me, but it’s more interesting than ever how it showcases how much texting has become that secondary component to human connection. So the most important people in your life, you text with. The people who matter, the connections that you care about, you text with. That is the channel that you spend not just the most amount of time, but the most amount of quality time in terms of how personal it is and how much meaning you derive from those conversations. So to be able to have a chance as a business, to be a part in that stream, is very special.

Bonin Bough: We thought that social was going to be that, and Twitter we’re going to have one-to-one communications and Facebook. It really became television because most people failed to realize how do you actually build true communications and how do you actually have empathy? How do you have all the things that are the human traits that make up real relationships? It’s interesting, you mentioned the book. I have texted today with 50,000 people. Usually I’ll read a little message from a person, which I think underscores experience. But when people text me, I don’t know who it is. So it’s just a random phone number, and they say things like, “Hey.” I write “hey” back. I talk to 50,000 people, “hey” or “hi.” But it’s interesting because even that simple initiation begins a journey of a conversation, which leads to places that I never thought possible.

Bonin Bough: One woman texted me and said, “I was in a horrible car accident and I thought I was never going to walk again. Every single day, I found your video. Your video, Gary V, Grant Cardone. I would put my feet over the bed every single day and I would try to wiggle my feet. They would never do it. Then one day they did and I realized that I could walk again but– and I texted you, but I was so nervous because you texted back. So I never texted again. But then I realized that I had to create a business that was something totally new for me.” She was a social worker. She said “I created”– but she loved to cook, so she said, “I created a text-to-buy cooking service and now I have a catering business that’s all run via text. Then finally I texted you and just sending this in a text to say thank you because I watched your videos on how to create a business over text.”

Bonin Bough: Those kinds of special stories, that personal … So we still continue to have a relationship. I think that, more than anything, is now in this moment it is about businesses figuring out how do you use this most personal channel to create personal relationships which ultimately will lead to business models. But first and foremost, it’s about having empathy for the person that’s on the other side and realizing that that’s really a human and not just a funnel or not just the email address that you’re going to push through and try to get them to buy something. There’s actually a human that’s willing to communicate with you on the other side, and how do you build that relationship in a way that really has lasting impression on your business ultimately, and then … Oh, sorry, first and then ultimately on the person.

Scott Heimes: We’re all about business texting here and Zipwhip, and that ultimately is about how businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers via the texting channel, the communication channel. Tell us about some of the things that you’ve seen in the market around businesses using the text channel to accelerate growth, to build stronger relationships and to build their businesses.

Bonin Bough: It’s crazy because we see so many models. We’re in an information age as we all know, and we think that everything that we need to know is all on the internet. It probably is at some level, but also there is something about having the immediacy of the conversation that changes the dynamic of people. So there’s all types of models. I’ll give some examples going down that route around information. So shameless plug, we have a toddler food business, which is called Tiny Organic. Please order. If you put #Bonin, I’ll let them know that we’ll get you 10% off of your meals. It’s for babies that are nine months up.
Bonin Bough: It really is that transition from when you go to feeding solids. One of the things when we started the business that was really paramount was how are we an information source? There’s a couple things. One is how do we create healthy? It’s all natural. It’s diverse flavors. So everything from paella to curry and it’s the babies 100 flavors to really create an expansive palette. But the bigger thing was nothing has been reinvented for parents in terms of information since BabyCenter, and BabyCenter is, I don’t know, 15 years old.

Bonin Bough: So how do we create this method for mom to ask question during this massively trying, difficult, unknown time when they’re transitioning to feeding their kid a solid food where the kid is learning how to eat. So it’s sometimes choking, but not really choking. It’s really, really personal, and you can ask your mom, you can ask your sister. But it’s like, okay, I can’t keep asking. I’m like, okay. Now the poop changes and there’s just so much going on.

Bonin Bough: So we are text-to-buy, but also text-to-talk. It’s been so interesting to see the level of conversation that parents want to have. So we have doulas who fuel the conversation with their moms to see the level of conversation that parents are willing to have. So when you step back and you look at it from a business dynamic, because of course we all think about customer service, which I think you guys are born of and have powered. Many companies think of customer service as a call center, but the reality is it’s a value center. It is the most amount of connection that you can potentially have with your consumer.

Bonin Bough: So you can call this customer service, but I don’t even know. It’s like in this weird world, I don’t know what to call it. But here we are having conversations with parents, helping them through this trying time, and every single mom, the lifetime value, it’s exponential. The moms that actually have a conversation with us, that we have conversation to help, it’s just exponential. You’ve never seen anything like it.

Bonin Bough: Or then when we go over to things like the hotel industry. So you look at what business texting is doing in the hotel industry. So simple things like … The hotel industry is suffering right now. I apologize guys. We were actually thinking about doing a staycation, but anyway, whatever. You look at simple things like, “Hey, can I get a towel by the pool?” “Can I change my order or can I order?” … Simple. Those type of simple utility services are going, I think they’re going to continue to move into this space and be vastly important and ultimately optimized for the consumers and the businesses that are doing it.

Bonin Bough: The other thing I think is simple things like reminders, reminding customers of things like taking your pills or your prescription is ready. Then we look at stuff like, we work with a client on the OpenMessage platform called Natural Grocers, which says, instead of sending you a circular, why don’t we … Instead of mailing you a circular, why don’t we send it to you on text? They used to have email, so they have about a million-person database on email. We went head to head against email versus text. So on average, the email is like 1%, 2% redemption rate. This is actually getting the circular and taking it into the store to redeem it in store.

Bonin Bough: We’ll see one, 2% of email. On text, we see 31%, 41%, 35%, 28%. You’ve just never seen. That’s because consumers, they have it in the place where they actually care about the most. This is the place that they care about. Or we have the largest pharmaceutical prescription cards, SingleCare, where you go on the site, you put in what drug you need, it sends you a drug coupon, you put it in your phone number and it texts you. The redemption rates are, we’re seeing things like 5X, 6X on the redemption rates because now, a) we don’t just send you a text. We actually send you a contact card. We build a real relationship. We have a real customer experience. So it’s actually like part of your life.

Bonin Bough: Then we’re sending you this prescription card that you can literally take into CVS and scan the card off your phone. People remember it, they search for SingleCare or prescription card. So the channel is changing the way that we operate those types of businesses. I gave you kind of four examples, in so many different ways, but primarily it’s that customer experience that, it’s the channel I care about and it’s the experience that is delivered that is empathetic, that is personal, that’s customized, and that is built around the way that I use that product in my life, and now it’s in my text stream.

Scott Heimes: Yeah, those are some great examples. Obviously there’s more too. There’s recruiting, there’s customer satisfaction surveys, there’s collections, and it dramatically increases collections of all that. Then internal communications is a huge use case that we see a lot of our customers use. Manufacturing companies using text now to do all their employee communications versus email.

Bonin Bough: Well, I was going to say right now, this moment it must be huge from employee communications standpoint.

Scott Heimes: I think it is. I think there’s … We’re seeing, over the last couple of weeks, enormous growth in our total SMS text volume. So the usage of text over the last two weeks has grown dramatically. I think it’s for all the reasons that you talked about earlier about the benefits of the channel and the uniqueness of the channel. It really is that most intimate way to connect and to communicate with both employees and customers. So what are your-

Bonin Bough: What are your customers telling you now in this time?

Scott Heimes: Well, we’re seeing a lot of interesting use cases pop up. For example, we’ve got medical professionals now asking their patients to wait in their cars and that they will text them when they’re ready to come in and see the doctor, avoiding the scenario of having multiple people sitting around in a waiting room, which obviously has risk associated with it. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants now turn and use our software to communicate around take out or pick up orders and even allowing people to do text-to-buy commerce, like you talked about earlier, in very simple way using our solution. So we’re seeing the creativity of businesses come out as they look for ways to use the medium to communicate with their customers.

Bonin Bough: You know, it’s interesting because we just spun up on the OpenMessage platform just updates, literally from the state’s websites, Department of Health and the government’s websites. It’s just simple things like that, and it’s crazy because we put it off to a small test group and I was like, I don’t know. Right now Cuomo is doing a phenomenal job. So I’m a big Cuomo fan, but every governor is facing I think probably the hardest times ever making decisions. But more importantly is the lack of information that’s out there specific to you. It’s one thing when the president comes on and speaks, but it’s another thing when you know what’s going to happen in my city, what’s going to happen in my zip code. Just the uptake, even from the test group. The test group’s like, we love it, we love it.

Bonin Bough: Honestly, all it is is just information that’s scraped from the updates on the public sites. But nobody goes to websites anymore. That behavior, we forget. It’s so gone. So yeah, in this time period, I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting models that will be born, and ultimately I think the companies and the businesses that build those relationships today will be able to continue those relationships tomorrow in a big way. I think right now is the time to show that you can be empathetic, that you can be connected, that you can actually create that … Every single … Think about that to your case study. Every single patient office that is saying we care enough about you to institute texts so you don’t have to sit in a waiting room. You’re going to remember that forever and that’s this unique time where it’s the right side of history to do the right thing as well.

Scott Heimes: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’m proud of that we’ve been offering our tools and services pro bono for nonprofits and government agencies that are on the frontline of the crisis. We’ve had a number of food banks and other child-oriented nonprofits services that have been trying to help people during this crisis turn to our software to help communicate with their customers. So I couldn’t agree more.

Bonin Bough: I love it, man. I know this is … Just for all the listeners, I am not a paid spokesperson for Zipwhip, but I first met you guys, I think it was at a Mobile World Congress maybe like four or five years ago. Spending time watching you guys grow has been impressive, but the most has been the days that I spent in your offices just getting to know you guys. More than anything, it’s like your heart is just … You guys are doing it for the right reason. That’s a rare thing to find. It’s something that I applaud personally and am just envious of, and I just am just really happy that there are people like you in the world. So anyway, that’s just my shameless plug.

Scott Heimes: That’s a kind statement. We really do care about-

Bonin Bough: I mean it though. Every single one. Every senior leader is all on the same page, man. It’s pretty impressive. So, all right.

Scott Heimes: Yeah, we care a lot about the fact that we were the pioneers of the business texting industry and that we really believe in maintaining the purity of the medium and not letting it devolve into the experience that email’s become, or frankly robocalling and the voice experience. There’s something magical about texting and we really want to maintain that magic and keep it pure, keep it focused on the real value, which is about building real relationships over the medium.

Bonin Bough: No man. You guys live it, man. You guys are scrutinizing every potential relationship and every conversation. Again, it’s also I think a lesson in leadership, which is how do you get people … How do you make sure that the people who you work with are living the same cause? It’s hard, man. Anyway, you guys do a great job and you guys have a great platform. Zipwhip. Go!

Scott Heimes: Well, let’s talk about one last topic before we close out, which is marketing and how text and marketing can come together and fit together in a way that it still does maintain that purity of the medium itself. I know that you’re a big fan of using texting for marketing. You’ve got businesses in your portfolio that are highly oriented around that. Tell me about where you stand on this issue. What are your thoughts around the intersection between texting and marketing?

Bonin Bough: Well, since I’m shamelessly plugging stuff, OpenMessage, I recommend everybody go, Yeah, man. I think that it, in the same way that any platform, it all begins with the center point of the business. So the sad thing about all of this is that eventually, unless we can put better guard rails and gateways around it, unless the industry can come together, unless we can get other players to believe in the same thing that we do, it does have a risk of becoming a little bit egregious and spammy and emaily. I think that the political campaigns are … We’re seeing stuff that’s probably not appropriate. I wouldn’t condone some of those efforts. Just because you can get a person’s phone number doesn’t mean you should use a person’s phone number.

Bonin Bough: The one thing that I think we have on our side is that lawmakers have made the fines and the penalties pretty harsh in comparison to email. So I do think that that has stopped a lot of nefarious actors from being in the space, and it’s given the time, the precious time that’s needed, for folks like you and hopefully our businesses to try to do the right thing and to try to create the right opportunity. From a marketing standpoint, again, it comes back to where do you hold your center point. Is your center point that I provide value for my consumer or your center point that I just blast them and tell them something and hope that they’ll take an action? The only folks that we’ve seen it be successful and the ones that we work with are really massively focused on the opt in, which think is what is a true legal opt in look like.

Bonin Bough: Then also massively focused on … Empathy Wines, For example. I’m sure many of your listeners know Gary V. I was Gary V’s largest customer. Well I was his first client when he only had 12 people, and then his largest forever. So I worked with Gary a lot. Empathy is his wine business, and they use OpenMessage to power their wine texts. One of the things that we do, we sit down every week and talk about what are unique, interesting ways to provide value for that consumer. So it’s one thing for me to tell you, “Hey, your order is shipped.” That’s great, and we do visual branded messages, which nobody else in the marketplace does. They’re beautiful and blah, blah blah. Well, we also do reminders so you can order and that’s a business piece. But we also do … We came up with this weekly sommelier tasting, which is based on whatever product you ordered, whatever wine you actually ordered.

Bonin Bough: We have a sommelier who visually takes you through a wine tasting. You literally taste the wine through the text. So, that is … How do we create … Then they have a wine weekend. How do you create value for that consumer in a way that the consumer appreciates and that truly is connected to the experience? That’s what we’re all in the process of learning to date. The reason why we really focus on OpenMessage is because, to date, most texts are gray bubble, black text. If I went to you and Neil Papworth who sent the first text message, he said “Merry Christmas,” gray bubble, black text. Then you cut to 2019, I sent the same message. “Merry Christmas” with a few emojis, but there’s not really been experienced design wrapped around it. So that’s where, from a marketing standpoint, we stand, which is how do we create experience design so that consumers have a complete experience that’s wrapped in value creation for them?

Bonin Bough: I think that … Who wants to blast a message? The good news, on that same front, is that consumers are so discerning. This is where I texted my dad for … My dad’s 92. This is where I texted my 92 year old father. If you’re going to send me something that I don’t want, that’s not beneficial to my life, that’s not helping me move forward as a human, than I am going to block you. That’s what they will do and you’ll never get back into their text stream again. So that is the … We have a couple of beautiful things. There’s high penalties, and the risk of consumers saying “no, you’re canceled” is very high. So we have to then, from a marketing standpoint, really use the channel to create the maximum amount of value and really have customer empathy.

Bonin Bough: I know I’ve said that like 30 times on this call, but really empathy of understanding who’s on the other side and what’s going to be valuable for them. So, that’s where I think marketers can benefit from the channel with that relationship. A great example is, we work with P.C. Richards, which is an electronic store. So it’s $1 billion business, actually, family-owned, great people, but North America. The CMO was like, “Hey, how can you help our business?” I was like, “Well, clean up those dirty stores because they’ve been the same since I was 14,” because I shopped there when I was 14. He’s like, “You’re right.”

Bonin Bough: I said, “I bet you that every single one of your agents texts with their consumers.” He’s like, “no way.” We went in and I said, “Look, even if they’re great, the ability to sell a range oven or a mattress or even a stereo day of is really short. So if a great salesperson, they’re not going to spend an hour and let that person leave. Of course, every single one texts with their consumers. We said, why don’t we … a) the challenge is that all those data points, all that data leaves when the person leaves. Then the other thing is you’re hoping that they have enough … It’s hard. There’s no intelligence. It’s hard to remember who to text and what I’m talking about.

Bonin Bough: So we introduced our platform and allowed them to text directly with consumers. We gave them some intelligence, we did things like never lose touch. So if I haven’t talked to this person in a week, text them back and say, “Hey, are you still interested in the range oven?” Or learn what their interests are and then tie it to the backend system so that, if they like electronics and a deal, an offer, on the website comes up, it sends a text to the salesperson that says, “Do you want to send this message to the consumer?” And they did it.

Bonin Bough: We took one sales guy from $6,000 a month total sales to $100,000 a month purely on text. Transformational because that’s how consumers want to interact. So if you can find those value propositions that matter as a marketer, then you’re going to be able to create a lot of value in the channel today. Just don’t f%&k it up.

Scott Heimes: Some great advice. All right, let’s wrap it up with … We’ve got 35,000 businesses using our software. We’ve got lots of listeners out there that are mostly small businesses using business texting to communicate with their customers. What’s your single biggest piece of advice that you have for these small businesses on how they can optimize and get more value out of the business texting channel for their businesses?

Bonin Bough: I know this sounds crazy, but I think … So we spent a lot of time, we did the neighborhood revitalization investment project with LeBron, and I spent a lot of time with small businesses. One piece of advice, first of all, is that what I learned is, with small businesses, I said, “Just because you’re small doesn’t mean that you need to think small.” So I think first that aperture of just changing their mindset. We took a guy who created bagels. He quit his job. He was an internet guy. Quit his job. Clearly shows how much the internet is loved. Quit his job to go make bagels and he slept in his car. He used the shared kitchen, and then he would deliver the bagels after he made them. Then they became so popular that he couldn’t make enough to deliver them to meet his demand. So he decided to borrow a friend’s freezer, started of freezing his bagels. Learned how to make them so they tasted as good frozen as they did fresh or almost as good frozen as they did fresh.

Bonin Bough: He’s like, “I want to build a bagel store.” We were like, “okay, great. We want to build a bagel store.” I said, but the frozen bagel market hadn’t been reinvented since forever. Thomas, Lender’s. It’s a $480 million market. So at the same time as we build a bagel store, why don’t we build a frozen bagel market? We got him on a plane, flew him to meet with the CEO of Box and got him a national distribution deal. He went from selling a truckload of bagels a month to a truckload of bagels a day, transforming. Now he’s got one of the … He’s literally competing against the major bagel manufacturers out of Cleveland. Got two stores in Cleveland, so on and so forth. So I think the first message is, just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean that you need to think small.

Bonin Bough: So how do you think different and change kind of your approach? How are you addressing the market in unique and different ways that can create a much bigger business? More importantly, small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. The crazy thing is they’re under attack. Ten percent less small businesses will be created this year versus last year. Eighty percent of small businesses fail in the first 18 months because the two reasons. One, they don’t have access to capital, and two, they don’t know how to grow. So we try to teach them how to grow. This is going to be hard on small businesses. Small businesses are going to face the biggest fallout from this situation than anybody else in the economy. So how do we do more with less is the question that we need to ask ourselves. I too am a small business owner, and it’s not pretty out there. Nobody’s taking phone calls, nobody’s writing checks right now.

Bonin Bough: It’s tough. You’ve got to weather the storm. At the same time, you wake up every single night wanting to protect the people who you employ because you know they have families, and these are people who have given their life in service to your business and you care about them. So that’s the tough piece. So the piece I would give in terms of business texting is, ask your consumers what they want. I think it’s so basic and simple. Most people … That’s the thing I learned texting with people. Ask them, what can I help you with? How can I make your day better? Does this makes sense for you? Ask them. If you ask them, you will be surprised at how much they will respond and how much they’ll appreciate. Then if you shape those responses based on the feedback they gave you, you will create a lasting relationship that is unprecedented and that will weather your business through even the storms that we face today.

Scott Heimes: That’s some really aspirational advice to close us out today. Thank you so much Bonin. We’ll leave links in our show notes to help our listeners find you and your book, and I just want to just really thank you for joining us during this time. It’s a scary time out there and trying to get together on the other side of it, and this has been really insightful and helpful for us. So thanks for joining.

Bonin Bough: Hey man, Scott, I’m so appreciative of all the work that you guys do, and the fact that you guys are giving the service the free for nonprofits and the fact that you guys honestly are just a beacon of positive ethos in the marketplace, it’s something that’s much needed, and you guys have been doing it for a long time. So I’m grateful that you have made, so thank you.

Scott Heimes: Well, thanks for joining the Zipcast. We’ll have you back on soon, I hope.

Bonin Bough: All right, Scott. Maybe it’ll be in person, but I don’t know. I’m kind of used to the Zoom thing, so we’ll figure it out.

Scott Heimes: Thanks for joining us. Now if you’re like me, you enjoy nerding out on texting data and industry predictions. So go ahead and download our new 2020 State of Texting report. You can find this at And make sure you subscribe to the Zipcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen, so you get the latest episodes. And feel free to text us with topics you’d like to hear about or other feedback for the show. Just send a text to (347) 772-3529. Until next time.

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