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Real-Time Marketing Doesn't Have to Be Scary

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h1 When you don't know what you're doing, it's best to do it quickly.

Jase, Duck Dynasty

Real-time marketing is on everyone’s mind these days – from those who tout its brilliance (think Super Bowl XLVII and Oreo’s You Can Dunk in the Dark tweet) to those who relish the snarky Tumblr called RTMSucks. This blog, which started after the Oscars, got its start when “what became apparent rather quickly was how boring the real-time efforts were. Everything from Special K cereal sitting in auditorium seats, clip art from JCPenney, and a Polar Bear on a treadmill.” Ouch.

But real-time marketing doesn’t have to be boring or scary, and it's here to stay. What works is a solid brand strategy and good old-fashioned marketing discipline. As Jeff Dachis points out on AdAge about why brands are failing at real-time marketing: “The reason is pretty simple: these me-too efforts are not actually real-time marketing. Brands are just inserting an ad into broad cultural conversation and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.”

What’s really scary is not being ready to leverage real-time marketing, the social stream, big data, and evolving consumer behavior. This leverage, when executed properly, can not only turn heads and create buzz, but can actually help boost the bottom line by providing consumers what they want, when and where they want it. It starts with understanding that real-time marketing is either event-driven or data-driven.

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Leveraging event-driven real-time marketing opportunities comes when the brand and social teams have a solid strategy in place and have become well-honed listening machines. They are then poised to take advantage of breaking news or current events that apply to their brand and demographic. When that works – like Oreos demonstrated – it’s magic. Otherwise, you end up with a collective groan from your customers - like when the Golf Channel tweeted this on the anniversary of the MLK "I Have a Dream Speech" or the AT&T misfire on the anniversary of 9/11.

More intriguing, though, is the new energy around data-driven real-time. Brands and agencies that have combined creative with big data and completely flipped the marketing funnel are poised to win.

This combination of creative and technology represents a fundamentally new approach to marketing. Rather than trying to surmise what’s going on by traditional methods, this new method allows agencies and brands to track the marketplace and adapt to changes in real-time in a strategic and disciplined manner.

Real-time big data helps focus creative and can provides a strategic direction for engaging audiences. Campaigns can be augmented or supplemented in mid-stream as trends change. What’s more, it helps solve the debate about ‘what consumers want’ and emboldens companies to develop really solid campaigns that drive customers to purchase.

As we approach Halloween this year, we’ll see who goes good-scary and who doesn’t. Google shopping data already reveals that Breaking Bad, Duck Dynasty, and Miley Cyrus are among the early costume favorites. So don’t be bad-scary and just snag a cool hashtag (like RedVines did with #WalkingDead) and insert cringe-worthy ads in the social stream.

Be good-scary, have some fun and take what social intelligence is already revealing to anticipate what consumers want and serve it up to them in real-time. #RTMHalloween

Beverly Macy is author, educator, and thought leader in social and digital business and a frequent contributor to Say Daily. She is also the author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing and the host of Social Media Radio.

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