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A Comprehensive Guide to Phone Tree Systems

What Is A Phone Tree?

For as long as humans have inhabited the earth, there has been a desire to share information easily. From drawings on stone to emoji use on Facebook, simplified methods of communication are always being sought out. A phone tree is one example of communication that serves a specific purpose when you need to get a message heard. What is a phone tree?

 

Traditional Phone Trees

Traditional Phone Trees

The concept of a phone tree has existed in one form or another since before phones even existed. Its purpose is to organize people in such a way that information can be spread quickly. Once the phone was invented, actual phone trees followed, and the distribution of important information to large groups became even easier to accomplish.

Phone trees work almost like a pyramid. The first caller, or pyramid peak, will call two people. Those two will call two more. Now you have a total of four people, each with two to call. The number of people called is rising exponentially, even though the number the person is committed to calling never changes.

This is a popular method for parents, churches and other organizations to share information quickly with seemingly little effort. A phone tree is not without its flaws however, and does require some work in order to get it started:

  • Planting the Roots - While there is not much effort required in making two calls and relaying information, a lot of work must go into organizing the phone numbers.
  • Growing the Tree - Once you have the names and phone numbers, the actual "tree" has to be made. This includes writing out who will be responsible for calling who.
  • Branching Out - Now you have to distribute the list to everyone on the phone tree so that they know who it is they are supposed to call once they receive the call and message.
  • Leaves Fall Off - The hardest part about making a phone tree work is having all the people in place, answering the call when you need them to. One missed call does not only affect one individual receiving the message, it delays all those below their name as well. It is as if an entire branch gets shaken and all of the leaves fall off, not just one.

Are Traditional Phone Trees Still Used?

While the concept of a phone tree is a good one, modern technology has made the traditional method almost obsolete. The missing leaves are no longer an issue as most everyone has a cell phone in their pocket, but better methods of gathering, storing and then sending the information are now utilized. Now when a group or organization is in need of sending out a mass message quickly, they are turning toward easier and more reliable methods.

 

Phone Tree Templates

Phone Tree Templates

If you are inclined to create a hard-copy phone tree for your business or organization you can download phone tree templates online to help. You will need to decide how many individuals each person is required to call, and then branch off the correct number of boxes until there are enough for each person. There is also a function in Microsoft Word documents that will allow you to make your own phone tree by using SmartArt and the Hierarchy option after clicking the insert tab in a document.

Once finished, you should be able to add the names, save the file and then print off as many copies as needed. Saved on your computer, it will be easy to make changes and updates to the document as needed, yet you still need to convince people to carry it in their pocket at all times.

 

Automated Phone Trees

Automated Phone Trees

Automation was the natural next step for the phone tree. With computers, you are now able to store your contact information electronically. When a message needs to be sent, you record it and then select the people you would like to send it to. Rather than the message being passed from one person to the next, the automated system will send it to your selected recipients all at once. When they answer, they will hear the message that you recorded without being obligated to make a call of their own.

Automated phone trees save you time and energy both in having to create the chain and when it is put into action. You will appreciate not having to create the phone tree, and the recipients will appreciate not having to participate. This method also eliminates the risk of multiple people missing the message because one person did not answer the call.

 

Voice Broadcasting

Voice Broadcasting

With a voice broadcasting system, automated phone trees are taken to the next level. Some, like DialMyCalls, have enhanced the phone tree concept by adding email and SMS text messaging as an option. Since research shows that we are more inclined to pay attention to a text than to a phone call or voice mail, using it to send a mass message increases the odds that it will be read.

Voice broadcasting systems also provides you with other options. For example, you could ask for feedback from the recipients, with the results stored inside of your data base. The data base is stored online inside of your own appointed account.

You are also enabled to add contacts into the data base and even create sub-groups of recipients. This function will allow you to choose who to send the message to quickly, rather than having to go through each name one by one. It is also here where you will create the messages, either in voice or text format, to be sent.

 

Phone Tree Automation Benefits

Benefits of Automation

The evolution of the phone tree into an automated system has streamlined the system dramatically. All of the work has been removed, making the construction of a phone tree significantly simpler. You will even be able to see how many people, and who, received the message. This will give you the opportunity to follow up with those who haven't. In an emergency situation this feature could prove to be invaluable.

Other benefits of an automated phone tree include:

  • Accessibility - All of your contact information and messaging tools are in one place, easily accessible by simply logging into your account.
  • Mobility - Automated message providers like DialMyCalls have developed apps which allow you to access your account from a smart phone. With this feature you are able to send messages at any time and from anywhere you are connected to the internet.
  • Organization - With the ability to assign contacts into your own categories, you can keep them better organized inside of your account.
  • Clarity - With a well versed text message, there can be no mistake about the intent of the message.
  • Number of Contacts - Voice broadcasting allows the user to send hundreds of messages at one time. It would take hours for a traditional phone tree to make it through a list that an automated system would complete in just minutes.

 

Who Uses Automated Phone Trees?

Who Uses Automated Phone Trees?

Traditional phone trees were typically reserved for churches and prayer chains and for organizing school events. With the introduction of automated systems, the number of groups and organizations who benefit from the use has increased dramatically:

  • Schools - A school notification system as a whole uses an automated phone tree to send out closing alerts, meeting dates and times, and other special events. Individual teachers and classrooms are also using automated phone trees to update parents on upcoming trips and assignments and to provide information regarding homework.

    This is not limited to public or private grade schools. Universities and colleges use automated phone trees for the same reasons. In an emergency situation for example, this mass text messaging has proven to be an effective method of alerting students and directing them to safety.
  • Churches - Church leaders employ automated phone trees when a member needs a special prayer, but with the ease of the service they have also integrated its use into other areas. Special groups are alerted to meeting times or changes, while church members are reminded of upcoming fund raising events.
  • Businesses - Managers can have instant access to their teams using automated phone trees, updating them on important changes and upcoming meetings. The use of this type of system is not limited to any specific business type either. Retail outlets, restaurants and corporate heads all benefit from this system.
  • A business may also use broadcast messaging as a marketing tool. This requires an opt-in code provided by the service provider, yet once initiated, gives the business the ability to market to their customers through their cell phones.
  • Property Managers - Rather than having to make phone calls or post bulletins when a property will be undergoing a scheduled maintenance, property managers have found automated phone trees to be much more effective. They also use this type of system to send rent reminders and provide other information to tenants.
  • Staffing Agencies - There is a lot of back and forth communication involved for a staffing agency, but broadcast messaging has proven to be a convenient method of keeping in touch with both clients and employee prospects.
  • Sports Leagues - Coaches of sports teams and league leaders use automated phone trees to stay in contact with the parents of the players. Everything from changes in game locations to information about picture day can be easily sent from their online account.
  • Emergency Management Teams - Not only does an automated phone tree allow for emergency management teams to update individuals before, during and after a crisis, it lets them keep in touch with one another. With special call back features a team leader can keep constant tabs on their own crew's whereabouts and safety.
  • City Service Providers - Police and fire departments have also found that an emergency broadcast system is a great safety measure to have in place, especially in times of distress. By encouraging members of a community to opt into the special service, they can be alerted when an impending storm is approaching, evacuation plans are in effect or where they can locate supplies and help.

The list of organizations and service providers who are now making automated phone trees a staple in their operations is endless. Whenever there is a need to communicate rapidly with multiple people in different locations, voice broadcasting can satisfy it. The benefits it provides are invaluable, both in emergency situations and for day to day activities.

Humans have come a long way since the first smoke signals were sent, taking advantage of their own technological advances to make communication easier. The ability to share thoughts, ideas and knowledge is one trait that makes us human, and we are lucky to have discovered new ways to enhance that ability and communicate easily with multitudes of people with one click of a button.



Coaching Tips: How To Keep Parents Involved

Coaching 101: Parent Tips

Coaches of kid's league sports don't have it easy, no matter which sport you are a part of. While you want to teach the kids the rules of the game, fair play, and of course how to win, your main objective really is to instill self-esteem. Of course having their parents rooting from the sidelines helps to reach that goal, but you need to make sure that they are showing up for the games.

Have A Pre-Season Parent Meeting

Introduce yourself to the parents of your league stars at an informal meeting at the start of the season. Give some background information about yourself and then let them know what you expect from the league and the season. Emphasize the importance of going to games, and give them some basic guidelines to follow when observing a game. This should include positive cheering and tips on how to handle a loss.

Make Sure All Parents Have A Schedule

At the start of every season a calendar should be given to each parent that shows your practice and game schedules. You can't fault a parent for not being in the bleachers if they didn't know there was a game. Giving them the schedule ahead of time affords them the opportunity to plan their own schedules accordingly.

Rotate Snack Duties

Parent involvement in their children's games can be encouraged by you handing out jobs. Make each parent commit to at least one game where it will be their responsibility to bring drinks or snacks to the side lines. You could also rotate assistant coaching for games to bring even more parents into the mix. This will give those parents who don't normally show interest learn how much effort goes into the games, and how important it is to their kids that they show up.

Constant Reminders

Even with the calendar it is likely that some parents will just forget about game days. Make a small investment into a team calling system and you could use that to send SMS text messages about upcoming games or meets. These are simple to use programs, most of which can be carried out on your own mobile device.

Keep Parents In The Loop

That same system can be used if your game is canceled or postponed for any reason. By having the cell phone numbers of your player's parents, you can let them know when there will be no game that day or if the time and/or location has changed. You can't expect a parent to be enthusiastic about your league games if you do not keep them informed.

Parent involvement in sports league activities will not only benefit the kids, it will help you in your coaching endeavor. Make every effort possible to make them a part of the team as well and you should all enjoy a season that is full of personal victory!



Summer Activities to Bring Your Church Together

Summer Church Activities

In the summer, many church leaders and pastors find that attendance takes a quick dip in numbers as their congregates prefer to take a quick dip in the ocean. There is not much you can do to prevent families from wanting to take advantage of the summer heat, but as they say "if you can't beat them, join them". By getting out into the sun yourself, you have the chance to grow closer to your church members, continue spreading your message, and maybe even increase attendance in the future.

Give the Gift of Cool Refreshments

If you are lucky enough to have a body of water close to your community, like a river, lake or even the ocean, grab some sunblock and head there. One cool way to stand out and make your presence known is to hand out cold juice boxes and snacks to the kids and families. It's even okay to attach a small card that lets the parents know exactly who to thank for this kind gift. This not only gives you an opportunity to minister to your church members outside the church, you could also be passing out those snacks to families who have not yet found you.

Make Your Presence Known at the Farmer's Market

When the farmer's market or county fair comes to your town, make sure that your church is represented there. Reserve a booth and put together an activity that inspires members to participate. Use your church notification system to get ideas from your members and then encourage them to take part in the event by donating materials or their time. Booth ideas for churches can be simple bake sales or clothing drives, or you can organize kid's activities like ball tosses and balloon popping. Give away prizes and awards that are spiritual in nature to further drive your message home.

Hold Friendly Competitions With Local Organizations

Compete with another local religious or community organization. Softball games against members of the local temple or swim meets against the police force bring together large groups of people from all kinds of backgrounds. These are not only fun summer time activities, they help to build relationships among diverse groups of individuals and families.

Host Family Movie Nights

Summer nights are a great opportunity to showcase a family appropriate movie at your church. Make this a fundraising event by having the cost of admission be a canned food item or used clothing. Give out popcorn and drinks to make the experience more authentic, and then gather volunteers to hand out the proceeds to your members in need the next day. This can even be a weekly event, with the movie title sent to your church members by sending SMS text messages through your church notification system.

If the hot weather is driving your members out of mass, then let it bring you to them. This weather provides the perfect chance to bring your church message outdoors, and get to spend time with your community in a whole new way.



Top 5 Food Truck SMS Marketing Tips and FAQ

Food Truck SMS Marketing Tips

Running a food truck business can be a rewarding opportunity to show off your food making skills, as long as you can get customers to your truck. This type of "on the move" business puts you at a slight disadvantage against the typical eatery since a loyal fan may not always know where to find you. You could invest in a megaphone, neon lights or even a bat signal to stand out where you're parked, or you could take the easy route and market your business through text messages.

SMS marketing is an easy and cost effective way of keeping in contact with your loyal customers. The concept is simple, they "opt in" to your service by giving you their cell phone number - just offer a free drink in exchange for those digits and you'll be amazed at how many oblige - then you are permitted to send text messages directly to their phone. This is made even easier with an SMS marketing provider, since these companies will store the numbers for you and allow for bulk texts to be sent to all your customers at once.

Still not sure how this could help boost your food truck business sales? These 5 text message marketing tips will help to drive the point home:



Broadcast Your Location

1. Broadcast Your Location

If your food truck is one that is always on the move, then you already know the frustration of knowing there are customers out there craving your meals, but have no idea where you're at today. You may already use Twitter or Facebook to help your customers keep up with your whereabouts, but imagine how much faster a text message would be. Some probably don't even log into those accounts until they are already biting into a sandwich, but they are checking their text messages all day long.

Once they get used to your daily location alerts, they will start waiting for it each day. Try and be consistent with the times you send these texts so that your customers will know when to look for it. You can also link to Google Maps where exactly your food truck is parked, especially if the location is a new one for you or in a hard to find spot. That type of extra care given to your customers helps to build their loyalty for your lunch service.



Text Customers Your Daily Menu

2. Text Customers Your Daily Menu

If your food truck changes up the menu each day, you can use text messages to let your customers know the special for that specific day. In fact, you should probably just go ahead and make sure that each day you have something special, you know ... even if it's just for an excuse to send out another text. You can advertise a combo plate, special sandwich of the day or a dessert treat that is new to the menu. The beauty of running a food truck is that you can make up your own menu as you go, and change things up whenever you're in need of a sales boost.

Texting marketing messages for your food truck can also play on the seasons if you are used to serving meals using locally sourced products. Freshness sells in the food business, so make sure that your customers know that you are serving fruits and vegetables that have just been harvested.



Send Out Mobile Coupons

3. Send Out Mobile Coupons

You can use mass text messages to give discounts and special offers to your loyal customers. Up the ante by promoting an even bigger discount if they bring a friend to your truck to have lunch. Now, not only is your texted coupon giving your customers an incentive to stop by, you're getting the chance to add more diners to your SMS marketing list. This helps increase your sales for today, and grow your business for the future.

Marketing coupons sent in a text message should still have an expiration date, giving you an excuse to send out a new one every couple of weeks. In order to redeem this virtual coupons, the customer only needs to show you the marketing text message they got from your truck.



Limited Time Offers via Text Message

4. Limited Time Offers via Text Message

This text message marketing trick has been getting great results for bars and nightclubs, so why not a food truck. On the spot deals compel the recipient to get to your food truck as quick as possible to cash in. Send a text offering a free soda with their food to the first 50 customers who stop by for the special, or do a twofer special for anyone who drops by before 2pm. Plan these to hit the cell phones of your customers just around the same time they are waffling on what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Another creative and fun way to do an on the spot deal with text message marketing is to send out a "magic word". Insinuate that only a select few have been made privy to this code, which when spoken at your food truck window will get them a free food item or prize. Consider investing in branded, reusable plastic cups, and serve the "magic word" winners their soda in one. This is another marketing double shot, as now your food truck name will be seen by everyone that comes into contact with your customer while they are sipping from your personalized cup.



Your Customers Can Text You Feedback

5. Your Customers Can Text You Feedback

2-way texting is a perk of SMS marketing services that a lot of business owners don’t take advantage of. Your food truck business can take advantage of this tool through customer feedback about their experience at your truck. You can also poll your customers about their favorite toppings, best places to park, or anything else you are curious about. This is really simple, and the results are calculated inside of your account, making it a snap for you to evaluate what your customers want.

The 2-way text messaging feature can also be used to help you run food truck contests and special events. Ask a quiz question related to your menu, truck or location, and then give out prizes or rewards to the customers who get it right. This could be that special cup again, or you could let them name your next unique culinary creation. You can have a lot of fun (and make money at the same time) with your food truck business, just by engaging more with your loyal clientele.



Text Message Marketing for Food Trucks FAQ

Text Message Marketing for Food Trucks FAQ

Is It Hard to Set Up SMS Marketing for a Food Truck?
With a specialized SMS marketing platform, this type of advertising is simple to manage. Start by giving your customers incentives to sign up. Free food or drinks usually works, or you can promise (and then follow through with) exclusive specials and deals for your mobile food truck.

To sign up for your SMS marketing alerts, customers will be given a unique keyword to text to your service provider. For example, if you are working with DialMyCalls, and your keyword is GoodGrub, then your customers would text GoodGrub to 80123. This will automatically add their cell phone number into your contact group within your DialMyCalls account. Once set-up, they are good to go on getting marketing texts sent from your food truck to their cell phone.

 

Does SMS Text Marketing Work Better Than Facebook or Twitter Alerts?
Think about your own social media browsing. How much attention do you pay to those paid advertisements in your news feed? Do you even check what is being posted or tweeted from those pages you've liked? Unless your customers are glued to your sites, anxiously awaiting every update, then the direct hit of SMS text marketing messages will be much more effective.

 

Will I Need a PC in My Food Truck for SMS Marketing to Work?
A text message marketing service is typically set up online, with your provider storing your data and contact lists for you. With DialMyCalls, the site is made for mobile devices too, so you can leave the laptop at home. As long as you have internet access from your cell, you can log into your account, create your marketing messages, and send out a text to everyone at once. This is perfect for those on the spot offers and deals you will be sending out to your food truck customers.

 

How Many Customers Can I Send a Message to at a Time?
More than you likely have in your contact list. Your DialMyCalls account allows for thousands of phone numbers to be stored, and they are able to send out the same in messages, all in one shot. There is little doubt that they would be able to handle the text message marketing volume that a food truck would need.

 

Is There a Limit on the Number of Messages I Can Send Each Day?
Well now, you don't want to barrage your customers with advertising messages, but there is no real limit on how often you can send SMS marketing messages. However, it is probably better to convince them with well-timed quality messages than irritate them with a high quantity.

 

What Happens If a Customer Doesn't Want Any More Messages From Our Food Truck?
While you're sorry to see them go, you are obligated to allow customers to opt out of the text message marketing whenever they want to. Just like with email marketing, they will be made aware of this option, and can choose to stop receiving messages from you at any time. All the more reason why you should make this service worthwhile to them with coupons, deals and other special promotions.

 

Does SMS Marketing Work for All Cell Phones?
If their cell phone is able to receive text messages from shortcodes (and nowadays whose isn't?) then you can market to them with SMS. It makes absolutely no difference what type of smart phone they have - if it is even a smart phone - or which provider they have their service with.

 

What if My Customer Changes Their Phone Number?
This type of service is based off of the cell phone number, not off of the name of the person who owns it. If they decide to change their number, they will have to opt in again to receive your text message alerts.

Breaking into the food industry is never easy, even when you are doing it from a truck on the side of the road. With high competition for new customers, it makes good business sense to work hard at catering to the ones you already have. SMS marketing is ideal for this type of business growth strategy, as you are able to focus your attention directly at your existing customers. Look to DialMyCalls and their comprehensive SMS marketing platform if you are ready to start driving your food truck business to a whole new level of success.



Tips and Pitfalls of Direct Marketing Through Bulk SMS

Bulk SMS Marketing Tips

With the world's eyes now accustomed to reading the small screen of their smartphone, it was only a matter of time before a way was discovered to advertise through them. SMS text alerts as a marketing tool have proven to be highly successful in a number of different applications, and are ideal for businesses both big and small, so long as you know how to properly take advantage of it.

The best thing about SMS marketing campaigns is that they are inexpensive in comparison to other methods of advertising your service, business or product. Plus, there is no real technical knowledge needed beyond being able to come up with compelling messages. This is especially true of bulk messaging, or what some refer to as text blasting.

How Does Bulk Messaging Work?

Bulk messaging follows the same concept as a group email, except the recipients receive their message right on their phone. Since most providers of this type of service have an address book for you to store your contact numbers, the process for creating and sending the message is simple and should take just a few minutes.

The Pitfall of Bulk Messaging

The creation of your contact list is extremely important, as there are laws which disallow for unsolicited text messages for marketing purposes. You need to encourage your customer base to opt in to this service by sending a special  keyword to a pre-selected SMS shortcode. Text message marketing providers such as DialMyCalls can assist you in setting up your first bulk SMS campaign.

 

Obtaining Permission to Send Marketing SMS Text Alerts
Most businesses find that they can encourage customers to sign up simply by offering special deals or promotions. You will then need to follow through with these promises in order to maintain your integrity once the customer has opted in for the service. here must also be a method in place for the recipient to opt out if they change their mind.

 

You can also increase your contact list by offering incentives to your existing customers if they are able to get friends to sign on as well. So long as you have their permission to use their phone number, you have the ability to increase your businesses exposure.

Once you have started to create a database of customers who are interested in receiving text message alerts about your business, you need to think about when to send them and what they should consist of. For example, nightclubs and bars have found success in using this type of campaign by sending out messages around 6 p.m. offering no cover charge for a limited time - just when their customers are starting to make plans for the weekend on Friday night.

If your messages center around special sales and discounts on merchandise, consider that the typical payday is either Wednesday or Friday, so plan your messages to hit your customers right around the same time that their pay is clearing in their accounts. Service providers like carpet cleaners and car washes should focus on the weekends, when people are off and have the time to take care of those tasks.

Marketing using bulk SMS is the smart way to go if you want to directly engage with your customers at a low cost to you. Avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of the tips to help you build a contact list of numbers that will help in making your business a successful one.



5 Best Practices for College Recruiters

5 Best Practices College Recruiters

For decades, businesses have recognized the benefit of bringing new minds aboard that are coming straight out of college. The job of a college recruiter is to entice the best and brightest to become a part of whatever team they are working for. The stakes are high and the competition tough, making it imperative that college recruiters learn how to make connections with this emerging job pool at their level and build strong relationships that last.

Create a Compelling Online Presence

Your potential new employees are born of the digital age, and are accustomed to communicating online. In order to attain their interest, your company needs to be online too, tweeting, posting and even blogging on a regular basis. Make it as personal as possible by using names and pictures. Choose individuals with strong personalities that people generally migrate, to manage your social presence online, and give them some liberty when it comes to engaging with college students you want on your payroll.

Give An Insider Peek

Rather than your standard recruiting videos on your website and social media outlets, let your employees give an insider view of a typical day in your office. They can share tidbits about projects they are assigned to, so long as they don't disclose any private company information. A graduating college student is most likely to choose a company if they already have an idea of what is in store for them while working there.

Make Them Feel Like They are Getting Special Treatment

As you start to weed through the various candidates, hone in on those who you feel will make the best fit in your business. Ask them to opt in for special messages and updates through SMS text messages, and then use your employee notification system to give those individuals an even better view of your company. You can send a blast message when your company has landed a big client, won an important case, or reached a new sales goal. With that type of information being shared, the recruit already feels like they are a part of the team.

Make Sure that Your Content is Valuable

College students are not just looking for the entry level position, they have a vested interest in how to move up the ladder quickly. Providing accurate information for how advancement works will give them a better understanding of what their next five years could be like with your company, not just the next five months.

Go Mobile

It is imperative that your company website and recruiting pages are adaptable to mobile devices. The number of people accessing the web from a smartphone device is increasing every day, and your website has to be developed in order to accommodate that smaller screen. Without this feature, college students will quickly bypass your site to find one that is easier to read.

Successful college recruiting is about engaging students in a format that they are most comfortable with. This means becoming savvy with social media networking and making your company appeal to your most promising recruits at a personal level.

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