An SMS alert message could have helped Farah and other athletes
Mo Farah is in the spotlight again, but not for winning. Instead he’s caught in a PR disaster because his coach has been accused of giving drugs to another athlete. But what’s worse for Farah is a recent revelation that he missed two drug tests in the years before the 2012 Olympics.
I’m not here to offer commentary on what he may or may not have done – or even what his coach may have done. Instead, I wanted to talk about the issue of his missed drug tests from a different perspective, and offer a solution that could have helped him and other athletes that miss their appointments, but didn’t have intent to infringe on the anti-doping regulations.
First though, let’s talk about what athletes have to do to meet their testing requirements. Every athlete needs to update the UK Anti-Doping’s whereabouts system with information of where they will be for the next three months. This includes an exact location for at least one hour each day between 5am and 11pm. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could tell you that much information, that far in advance, and have it be correct. I’d certainly forget where I was supposed to be, or where I said I’d be at some point.
Here at fastsms we’ve got a suggestion that might help the athletes keep track of their obligation for testing:
Hook up the athlete database to an SMS messaging system.
It would work something like this:
Each athlete would receive a location reminder every day. It would automatically be sent the day before, so the athlete has time to either confirm that’s where he’ll be, or to change the location in the system. This doesn’t mean the test will happen then, it’s just reminding them of where they said they’d be in the whereabouts system.
In addition, the SMS messaging system would send an alert message to the athlete when the tester arrives at the location. Surprise is necessary (I briefly worked at as a Laboratory Assistant at a drug testing lab in the prison systems. I would hope world class athletes would behave better than prisoners or paroles, but in my experience they will try anything to avoid or cheat the test if they know it’s coming), so this wouldn’t be sent until the tester told the system to send it.
This alert message may seem like it’s unnecessary if the athlete is where they said they’d be. But you’d be surprised how many athletes say they were at the location, but either didn’t hear the door bell, or slept through it.
Mo said he couldn’t hear the doorbell and actually appealed the missed test by providing a video that showed it was hard to hear. Another athlete, Lynsey Sharp, a British track and field athlete, went on holiday in Boston. According to an article in the BBC, she spent her required one hour availability at a local café because the doorbell in her rented apartment didn’t work and she didn’t want to miss the test.
Now imagine that the tester standing outside the door sent an SMS alert after pushing the doorbell. An athlete might not hear the doorbell, but if the mobile on their nightstand or in their pocket started buzzing, beeping, chirping, or playing Chariots of Fire music then they’d certainly notice.
This proposed system would give all athletes who abide by the regulations another tool to help them manage their testing obligations. When their training, competitions, personal lives, or misbehaving doorbells distract them, the SMS messaging can get their attention quickly so they can stay at the top of their game, legally.
Statistics show that a huge 98% of text messages are opened within the first fifteen minutes of being received, so it's little wonder that sports organisations and fitness centres have been looking to take advantage of a potentially lucrative market.
Marketing for gyms and leisure centres is unlike marketing within many other industries. It's not enough to simply gain a customer and expect to keep them indefinitely. It's important to make every attempt to keep that customer dedicated and interested in achieving their fitness goals to avoid lapsed memberships and cancellations. It's in every gym's best interest to have a loyal customer base that feels supported and encouraged to attend the gym regularly. Failure to do so can result in members who feel it is a waste of money to pay for a membership that they don't use often enough. That's where SMS marketing can make a big difference.
We look at how SMS Marketing can help gyms, saunas, solariums or other any other kind of membership based businesses in the health and fitness sector generate substantial ROI by unlocking the value of lapsed memberships. With a simple strategy, you can bring former members back on board and turn them back into loyal customers.
Most major sports teams in the UK and US already know the power of SMS for engaging fans via scores, stats and other data. But the power of SMS can extend far beyond the world of the major leagues. SMS is ideal, not only for communicating with participants but to coordinate teams of volunteers across the event.
SMS marketing has seen a huge uplift in popularity in recent years, with big brands investing in the technology to better engage with their customers. There are so many benefits of SMS marketing, from the ability to directly to reach customers with your communications, to the fact that over 80% of SMS texts are read. With over approximately 90% of the world receiving mobile coverage, you’re highly likely to be able to reach your audience, regardless of where they are. SMS marketing is cost effective, and campaigns are quick to develop, in as short a time period as the time it takes to write a text message. This gives you the advantage of being able to communicate quickly, and effectively with customers, reacting to information almost instantaneously. With so many reasons to use SMS marketing, we’ve highlighted four sectors successfully using SMS messaging as case studies to highlight the advantages of investing in the technology.
An effective use of SMS campaigns is for support of sports teams and leagues. Using automated messages to communicate with supporters ensures that your teams have the chance to play to full stadiums throughout each and every game. This, in turn, motivates them, providing support.
The New York Times used the Olympics as an excuse to try a massive SMS experiment. They wanted reporter Sam Manchester to get personal with their thousands of readers using two-way SMS messaging. Read the blog to see if the experiment was a success or a failure.