Real-Time Marketing: What is It and How Do YOU Do It Effectively?

Marketing use to be a leisurely pastime of sorts. Weeks of meetings, focus groups, reading and analyzing statistics, three-martini lunches and over several months, the plan was laid for product marketing for that fiscal year. Thanks to social media and the changes and immediacy of marketing, that all changed nod now marketing must be done on the fly, each and every day, listening to the consumer, watching changing trends, sales, feedback on Twitter and other social media channels and reacting quickly and surely. There is no room for mistakes or hesitation. Any mistake can mean ruination and huge losses. Now martinis must be kept in thermoses in one’s desk.

There’s no time for analytics but they are all there to be seen if you know how to find it all on the right social media venues, or, how to elicit it via inbound marketing and have consumers tell you directly what they like and dislike. While the old way of marketing was a big guessing game, real-time marketing is the truth from the very mouths of consumers as they experience your product or service.

Paul Gunning, CEO of Tribal DDB, says, “it’s the notion that we observe consumer behaviors as they happen, such as searching, playing, sharing, and purchasing, then adjust our marketing to be a direct reflection of that information. This might mean a message change, a placement change, an immediate offer, etc. The point is that all of marketing (PR, advertising, promotions, shopper, etc) has to bring this ‘just-in-time’ type of strategy to their services to some extent.”

There are lots of examples from brands you probably recognize and most break into one of two branches:

  • Event driven
  • Customer driven

Event driven real-time marketing embraces public events like a major sporting event, the Oscars, the Emmys or Fashion Week. Brand events like trade shows or product launches fall into this category, too.

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As an example, Pepsi launched their Diet Pepsi skinny during Fashion Week 2011. Rather than advertise, the product was integrated into the event. Pepsi hired a journalist with full press credentials to attend the event. When articles were published, Pepsi placed the content on social channels and also used Twitter and Foursquare to flag notable events. Brand positioning: “get the skinny” on fashion and pop culture. By “piggy-backing” the event, with little investment, Pepsi managed to introduce a major product. Unfortunately, what Pepsi didn’t count on, nor did they heed while this rolled out, was the reactions to the “get skinny” play they made to American Women who prefer the real-time notion that runway models are freakishly skinny and not normal.

As written in the Huffington Post story on the marketing plan:

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new “skinny” can for Fashion Week, but some critics are giving it a big, fat “no.”

The can is a “taller, sassier” version of the traditional can that the company says was made in “celebration of beautiful, confident women.” Some say Pepsi’s approach only reinforces dangerous stereotypes about women and body image.

PepsiCo Inc. presented the new can at New York’s Fashion Week, which began Thursday. It will be available to consumers nationwide in March.

The company, a Fashion Week sponsor, is hosting a series of events to launch the new can, include collaborations with popular designers such as Charlotte Ronson and Betsey Johnson.

“Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks, and we’re excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world,” Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo said in a statement.

Critics say it is nothing to celebrate.

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Brand experts praised the new design but say the company may be a bit off on its sales pitch that skinny is better. The National Eating Disorders Association said it takes offense to the can and said the company’s comments are both “thoughtless and irresponsible.”

Pepsi’s reaction was just as clueless when they announced the launch of a print advertisement for the new can featuring the buxom actress Sofia Vergara. Once again, not the average woman as the original complaints from Twitter users ranted about models. Can one find the skinny cans on the supermarket shelves a year later? You’ll have more luck finding a pack of Twinkies tomorrow!

Mobile Apps

Customer driven real-time marketing tends to be customer service focused. In fact, new research finds consumers reaching out to companies on social channels expect a response within 60 minutes. That’s why it’s great that Walgreens’ SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) Foursquare program reached in-store shoppers. Consumers who checked in at a Walgreens location on Foursquare instantly received a coupon for a special offer. Even more innovative; the coupon can be scanned directly from the phone.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s mobile rewards program. Just check-in at any Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s with the app and you’ll get to spin “The Wheel of Awesome™,” where every spin wins some sort of discount—from food products to movie tickets, Blu-ray™ players and more prizes. The app has had 250,000 downloads and other companies have also gotten on the mobile app/spin-to-win bandwagon. Kirkland’s has had 10,000 downloads of their “Spin to Win” app. GameStop has had over 100,000 downloads and when launching their movie, “The Lorax,” NBC Universal, Inc. reported over 250,000 downloads of its “Truffula Shuffula” app.

Consumer Fulfillment

Pretzel Crisps’ “Social Sampling” Program is a real-time program monitors Twitter conversations to identify customers who are “in need of a snack.” @PretzelCrisps offers to deliver a free product sample, often with a follow-up that encourages recipients to share feedback and start conversations about the brand. Pretzel Crisps has garnered over 4.2 million earned media impressions since the launch of the program in July 2010, has delivered some 3,600 free samples to consumers, and the company has seen sales increase up to 87 percent over the previous year.

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Even individuals have managed to crack the code, so to speak, of real-time marketing. Cabbie Rashid Temuri, gets 90-95% of his repeat business through social media channels, primarily Twitter. His Twitter account, @ChicagoCabbie Generates Repeat Business with Real-Time marketing. Customers can follow him and check his location on Google Latitude or Find My Friends. When they need a cab, they know if he’s nearby and can tweet for a ride. Another bonus he offers customers; free WiFi in his cab!

Tools for Success!

Naturally, just one article cannot teach you the ins-and-outs of real-time marketing. Aside from extensive studying of this new brand of marketing, there are tools available for those seeking to use the technology effectively. An article by The Content Marketing Institute has a neat roundup of some great tools to get you into real-time marketing a bit faster.

For further reading to get you started in real-time marketing, check out these links:

7 Content Marketing Strategies for 2013

2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends [Research Report]

This 7-Step Content Marketing Plan Earned an $87 Million Paycheck

Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now

Five rules of real-time marketing

The rise of real-time marketing: LocalResponse revenue in January equaled all of 2011

5 Real-Time Online Marketing Tools To Give You The Edge

Images ©GL Stock Images

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