Since the Super Bowl, real-time marketing has endured a celebrity news cycle of sorts, with pundits building it up to hero status and then just as swiftly tearing it down. As Oreo's digital agency since 2010, we've seen the "dunk in the dark" tweet held up as everything from the watershed moment that legitimized real-time marketing to the thing that triggered a deluge that is ruining social media.
But many of real-time marketing's biggest cheerleaders and loudest detractors are missing the bigger point by equating it to a need for minute-by-minute marketing for every brand in every situation. Instead, the real-time revolution is a much broader call-to-arms for brands to evolve their entire plan to marketing in a real-time world.
To meet this challenge, brands today require a fundamentally new go-to-market approach in order to stay relevant in the eyes of their consumers. This requires a shift in both marketing mind-set and structure. Brands and agencies must reconsider how they are organized, how resources are allocated, the frequency of planning cycles (yearly planning is no longer sufficient) and the speed at which decisions are made.
There are certain key questions that we must always ask ourselves if we want to remain relevant to consumers in the digital age:
1. Why should they care?
2. Will they be inspired to share?
Success today requires positive answers to both questions, and a well-laid strategy and plan. Our recommended formula for success can be distilled down to what we think of as the "three Ps": planning, process and practice.
Planning. For all of the discussion about brands acting human and having off-the-cuff, real-time moments, those that do this well and authentically know it requires a lot of upfront strategic planning. Do you have a social tone of voice so that everyone involved knows what the brand stands for and sounds like in social? What value are you offering to consumers in exchange for their attention, and is it relevant for your brand to be offering it? Consumers will ignore -- or worse, destroy -- a brand that is inauthentic.
Process. Marketers must be organized for nimbleness with clear rules of the road and escalation procedures with your agencies, internal PR and legal. You also need the flexibility to reallocate resources on the fly.
Practice. As Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Unexpected things are going to happen in real life. The more practice you have, the better equipped you'll be to deal with them. Oreo's ability to react in real time during the Super Bowl was a result of the lessons that came from many years of practice, most recently culminating with the 100 days of content created during its "Daily Twist" campaign.
All of the post-Super Bowl discussion around real-time marketing has put the industry in a better position to evolve our approach to marketing and better earn the attention of our audience.
But we need to move the conversation from whether we should be tweeting in real time to a more profound evaluation of whether we are moving fast enough as an industry to stay relevant to our customers.
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