Whiskey and Text Messaging with Josh Gray-Emmer

As a NationBuilder Architect, Expert, former employee, and overall fan of the company, I really enjoy helping customers get the most out of this incredibly powerful software platform. That’s why I jumped at the chance to participate in NationBuilder’s new Cities initiative. This cool new program brings people together in cities all over the world to have discussions and learn from each other how to be more effective leaders. For my part, I knew that I wanted to help people in Los Angeles become better at using one of NationBuilder’s most powerful yet underutilized features, text messaging.

Unlike other NationBuilder LA events, this wasn’t going to be a casual dinner or discussion on a new book.It was going to be some straight-up, practical software education. Really though, who wants to come to that? It sounds pretty boring. Knowing that I wanted to get a lively group excited about learning, I decided to combine texting with one of my other passions: whiskey!


The folks at Wolf & Crane Bar in Little Tokyo (some of the best Japanese whiskey in the city) were kind enough to sponsor the event and provide us with five bottles for tasting while learning. To keep things interesting, I tied getting a drink to completing a texting action, each one based on an overlooked feature that NationBuilder excels at. For example, the daisy chain. Most people don’t know that you can create an unlimited number of hidden signup pages, each with their own text-in keyword that sends an auto response message linking to the next page in the chain. The easiest example starts in the communications dashboard with a mass text blast asking a simple question with two possible answers, like, “Do you like bourbon or scotch?”One answer, let's say, “bourbon”, triggers one signup page; the second answer, “scotch,” triggers another. Then you can keep asking questions based on previous answers.

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(Photos by Alex Simoes-McArtor)

Another one of my favorite ways to use text messaging is to send a shortened URL based on a text response. For example, you can ask, “What was your favorite whiskey that you tasted this evening?” Then, using a single signup page, you can create keywords for all the possible answers, each one tied to a different response that includes a link on how to purchase  that whiskey at a discount.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. A smart campaign manager will use text messaging along with email marketing, content creation, social media, and exciting calls to action TOGETHER for maximum effect, and all of that is manageable within NationBuilder. I hope that you’ll come have some drinks with me at NationBuilder when we do this again next year, and in the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have questions about how using NationBuilder’s text messaging feature can benefit your project.


Josh Gray-Emmer is the Founder and CEO of BridGE, a firm that helps DTLA businesses reach residents, and NationBuilder customers with strategy and execution. He's also a 24 year veteran of The Sundance Film Festival and the founder of three successful companies.

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