Marketing has always had its own language, its “buzz words” and one of the latest buzz words in marketing is the notion of “real time marketing”.
In order to frame this notion of real time marketing you can think about the successful TV series of Mad Men. This series was so effective because, apart from providing some glamour to the advertising industry, it has kind of pulled back the curtain and gave us some ideas of how ads and communication campaigns were built in the ’60s.
One of the fun parts is when you see all the executives sitting around the table and they’re brainstorming. And Don Draper – one of the executives in the show – becomes creative, and they come up with a great idea. And then the big machine starts to work, and the campaign unfolds. And the process takes months.
And that is historically, the way that advertising communication happens. It’s a long period of time where something really thoughtful and creative is brought to the market to help sell a product or better communicate its value.
Well, real time marketing is the idea that, instead of having and accept this long time span, you can take advantage of events or incidents that happen in the world around us and you can use those events in your marketing campaign immediately. So in other words, instead of doing this long process of building your communication campaign, you just do it, now!
And one of the funnest examples we’ve seen in the recent years of this idea is like the incident with the release of the iPhone. As you may remember, it actually bended a bit when you put in your back pocket. And of course this is not a positive thing for a smartphone. Well, a number of other brands – one in particular was Kit Kat, the chocolate bar – took advantage of that and did an ad displayed promptly online that said “We don’t bend, we #break”, poking fun at the notion of iPhones’s product not working, but in a Kit Kat point of view, that’s all good.
Perhaps one the most famous examples of real time marketing was in the 2013 Superbowl held in New Orleans. What happened? Well, the power went out. And all the people sitting in the seats or home watching the match were puzzled waiting for the power to recover.
In that very moment, in real time, Oreo cookies launched a Twitter campaign that said, “It’s OK. You can dunk in the dark,” and attached the image you can see above. This got a lot of traction on social media, people were talking about it and mainstream media picked it up a few hours later. A huge success for this company. Seizing on something in real time.
And I made this example of real time marketing as a buzz word but I might as well refer to dynamic pricing or the product design with crowdsourcing or the notion of the long tail. All these examples may lead people to think “Well, the world is changing, that is why marketing is always changing”. But, wait a minute, is really marketing changing its fundamentals ?
Take Oreo’s example. On the surface of it, the Oreo brand team were acclaimed for being able to do this awe-inspiring fast campaign. They reacted within minutes as the lights went out at the 2013 Super Bowl. But do you really think that within two or three minutes, they had done all of this work?
Certainly there was something creative about it, but most of what was going on there was based around good planning and use of good marketing fundamentals. What they really got was to:
- Understand their customer
- Understand the context of a live event
- Understand their brand and the brand’s positioning
- Understand that a lot of communication could be pre-prepared to take advantage of possible opportunities that may come along in real time.
So, 90% of this was planned ahead of time. So the takeaway of this is to say, make sure to understand these exciting elements of marketing and look at the fundamentals. Not be seduced so fast by these always changing tactical plays.
And The constants are..
What we should do is to try to understand the difference between some of the constants in marketing that are largely unchanging, and then some of the things which actually appear to be changing.
|Changing elements||Constant elements|
|The specific tactics you can use||Dealing with customers and competitors|
|Power balance between customer and companies.||Understanding your external and internal environment|
|Dealing with Segmentation Targeting and Positioning of your brand|
|Dealing with your marketing mix, the controllable elements|
Tactics are changing: e.g., some years ago you could not think about the chance to have a real time conversation with customers on Twitter or other social media. So there’s lots and lots of different tactics that we can think about today and were unattainable some years ago.
Customer power surged because of the faster, more transparent, lower cost information that is available to the customer. And this information comes now from more sources with greater variety of view and opinion and, arguably, objectivity and authenticity.
So the lesson I learned from this is that if you can think about some of these as fundamental changes and some of these as fundamental constants, then you are well set up well for understanding the good about the new marketing buzz words.