Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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Time to get real about the real time marketing world.   We need to create sensing systems and organization structures that can listen in real time and then immediately respond.

Consider the following comment from the head of digital at Pepsico beverages, Shiv Singh as part of a roundtable discussion:

“Another challenge facing brands is the pace of marketing. We’re living increasingly in a world of real-time marketing where reputations are built and broken in seconds. Marketing programs succeed and fail in that time span too. Unfortunately, most marketing organizations are structured for annual or semi-annual planning, budgeting, and executing. That tension is only going to grow…business models, staffing structures, and processes are aligned for a much slower world.”

So what does a commitment to real time sensing look like?  Here is an example from Gatorade of a mission control center.  Note how they bring together multiple streams of insights for instant feedback.

So what can we learn from these leaders about real time marketing?  Here are eight guidelines for what will it take.

1.       You are creating culture change so this must be immersive.  Screens everywhere and big hoopla with the launch.  The whole organization must be aligned to putting the human at the center of the marketing action.

2.       There are no boundaries or borders.  Everyone (all employees, partner organizations) should have access to insights instantly and simultaneously

3.       It is integrative. There is no one source that gives all the answers.  You must integrate the signals and find the common thread

4.       Real time insights must connect to real time action.  In digital marketing, ad serving rules and search keywords can be changed daily or even hourly.  Create real time sensing systems about what is working that lead to real time optimization of brand communication efforts and bidding.

5.       Real time marketing is becoming as much about place as it is about time.  As smart phone penetration increases, the opportunity for location-aware offers, messaging, and consumer metrics will go to a completely different level.

6.       Marketing should become hyper-granular.  As we learn about the preferences and need state changes of people in real time, we must act in ways that are as relevant as possible before the moment passes.  For example. as I begin digitally signaling that I am considering buying a new car, say by sharing content with friends in Facebook or Twitter, you want to address relevant car messages to me at that point and feature relevant content.  The week before, those messages and content would have been much less relevant. Real time feedback on brand communication will become infinitely granular to fulfill the promise of digital advertising with real-time networks and ad serving.

7.       Marketing will move from integrated to vertically integrated. Think about the ability for Starbuck’s to build a community and via smart phone apps and location-aware social tools, activate those relationships when someone is in the vicinity of a Starbucks or a supermarket and even right at the point of purchase.

8.       All research and insights programs should be either designed to be real-time or not; “fast” is not good enough.  If you are building a sensing program to replace a traditional research method that used to take 8 weeks, 2 week turnaround sounds good but is still way too late.  To be clear, there is a role for non-real time research; for example, strategic learning research, concept testing, and product testing certainly do not need to be real time

Get ready for real time marketing now.  If you blink, you might find yourself permanently trying to catch up.

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2 Responses to “Eight guidelines for real time marketing”

  1. With all due credit to both sources, I am using this blog post with a client this afternoon to further their understanding and acceptance of my proposal for services in the area of real-time communications. Thank you Joel.

  2. Interesting piece, Joel. Do you think that the tactical vs. strategic distinction is still relevant?