How to embrace the real-time marketing trend
Staying relevant is critical – but sometimes challenging – for marketers. Consumers’ attention spans are shorter, they’re constantly bombarded with marketing messages, and they’ve become desensitized to marketing gimmicks. Marketers now need to be relevant, clever…and fast! Real-time marketing (RTM) is hot, and successful campaigns are creative, on-target, and attention-grabbing … all within a very short timeframe.
Real-time marketing is when companies react quickly to local, national, or global news or events, adding their marketing messaging into the social media conversations. Ideally, RTM will capture customers’ attention and inspire engagement.
When the lights unexpectedly went out at the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo pulled off an amazing RTM moment when they tweeted: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” During the 34-minute Super Bowl power outage, Oreo’s media company, 360i, brainstormed, approved, and posted that Tweet, taking advantage of the real-time opportunity. They had 10,000 retweets within the hour.
Practicing RTM shows that you’re aware of what’s going on in your industry, community, and globally, providing a unique and important opportunity to showcase your brand and voice.
“Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years,” said Gartner Vice President analyst Mike McGuire in 2020.
When fashion brand ASOS mistakenly printed 17,000 bags with a typo, they immediately owned the mistake. They tweeted, “We *may* have just printed 17,000 bags with a typo. We’re calling it a limited edition,” with a picture of the new bags, which had the word “online” misspelled. They acknowledged an honest mistake and turned it into a strong marketing opportunity. Their quick and fun “spin” on their error got lots of love.
Following are tips to incorporate RTM IRL (In Real Life):
Stay Aware: Keep up with trends, news, and events. Set up Google alerts, search competitors’ websites, check hot topics on conference agendas. Monitor real-time events, follow key influencers on social media. Follow industry publications, news sites, and other brands to remain current on what’s happening and relevant.
Listen to Your Customers: Wendy’s fast-food restaurant is well-known for fast responses to customers’ social media posts. When customer Carter Wilkerson posted a tweet asking, “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy’s quickly responded, “18 million.” “Consider it done,” Carter replied. Carter asked for retweets and went viral. Celebrities and brands (including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon) helped Carter reach his goal. Wendy’s single real-time response to a fan helped them gain significant visibility and attention – and Carter got his free chicken nuggets.
Monitor Real-Time Industry Events: Create a campaign around an industry conference as it’s happening, tweeting about speakers or posting news that was announced. Post “live tweets” from the conference. Comment on insights and trends. Go live on Facebook.
Educate Audiences in Real Time: Some companies wisely spread real-time educational messages during catastrophic times. Before major hurricanes hit, Progressive Insurance often shares tips on storm preparation and where to seek help. Progressive also retweets tips from other reliable sources, like the American Red Cross. Not every brand should be leveraging RTM opportunities associated with a looming crisis (it can look opportunistic and inappropriate), but for an insurance company, it’s on brand.
Embrace an Ongoing Initiative: This is not a “one and done” effort. Don’t just live tweet from one event and cross it off your To Do List. Make a continuous effort to engage key audiences. Ask and answer questions on social media, solicit feedback, inform followers of new products/incentives/upcoming events. Be active on social media conversation threads beyond your own. Yes, this may require a social media manager, but it’s well worth it!
It’s Not “Go Big or Go Home:” Even if you don’t have Wendy’s or Oreo’s marketing budgets, real-time marketing is essential. Start with simple – but still important – real-time touchpoints, like creating personalized, in-the-moment experiences for customers through emails, texts, and social media. Even sending an immediate email saying how much you appreciate their business can result in happy customers posting positive online reviews.
In this digital age, things happen lightning fast, and companies need to be smart, proactive, creative, and nimble to leverage opportunities as soon as they arise. RTM can help you successfully accomplish this.
Stefanie Guzikowski is Manager and Founder of virtual PR firm E & G Public Relations, LLC. We specialize in leveraging passion and expertise to help our clients build awareness in their marketplace, achieve a competitive edge and, ultimately, grow their business. Stefanie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-817-9464. For more information, please visit