My new pink phone chirped, and I looked to see that the call was coming from an old friend. And although I find caller ID a bit creepy, I answered on the third chirp and said, Hi Tom, howve you been? Tom told me his daughter was getting married, and she needed my email address.
In a few days, I received an email from his daughter and found it to be an electronic wedding invitation in the form of a no-reply single sentence that directed me to the engaged couples newly uploaded website that was sponsored by, and linked to, a photographer, a wedding planner, a bridal registry and a florist.
It had dozens of photos of the happily engaged couple with offers to purchase any of the images, matted or framed, of course. And in case I was in need of current or future wedding services, I could conveniently reach them by clicking on their links, texting them a message, grabbing their QR code with a smart phone or checking them out on Facebook. All would take my order online, and none of the businesses offered their addresses or phone numbers.
Theres a lesson here for Durangos small-business owners: Keeping the business model fresh in the Internet age is vital.
The wedding is planned for sundown on a beach at a tropical resort, and I am invited to share in the couples island experience. Apparently, many people do this. The couple, the resort, the airline and a rental car company, all of which now have my email address, are all hoping I can bring the whole family. Of course they are.
The wedding invitation asked that I respond by emailing my RSVP and texting my choice of chicken or fish.
The resort quickly invited me by email to open its Sendspace message and access a zip file with resort photos and all-inclusive vacation packages. A complimentary mai tai was featured if Id join the time-share real estate tour in person or take a virtual tour online.
I texted my regrets, and in a few nanoseconds received an email that the occasion would be video streamed live for a pay-per-view fee. In fact, from the privacy of my den, I could throw rice at the screen. This prompted an offer from the Japanese version of Harry and David to buy white rice in bulk.
For my gifting convenience, the wedding planner recommended I provide a temporary ID and password to my savings account so the couple could withdraw an amount up to $200, thus preventing them the hassle of receiving more than one toaster and me the humiliation of such a social blunder.
The entire honeymoon escapade could be followed by checking daily uploads of photos on their Facebook page, all for sale.
So Ive decided to Tweet the couple my good wishes, email a virtual $50 gift certificate and linked them to a downloadable coupon.
Whats the lesson here? In our little burg, its easy to dismiss new realities and opportunities like using the power of Internet marketing.
If the small-business owner on Main Street USA is waiting for business to return to normal and is hoping a tourist will walk into the store and buy something it might well be on its way to becoming an empty storefront.
I dont expect to be receiving any more printed wedding invitations.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is the downtown business development manager for the city of Durango.