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Tuesday 2¢ - Real Time is More Than Selling Oreos

Tuesday 2¢ - Real Time is More Than Selling Oreos

Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott talks real time marketing, emphasizing that is is so much more than just waiting to seize the moment...


Dig a bit into the latest marketing buzz around ‘real time marketing’ and very quickly you will be offered the moment in 2013 when Oreo reacted to the blackout at the Super Bowl, with an amusing tweet . But is that all there is to real time? Having a witty agency manning your social channels during a public event?

David Meerman Scott , author of some of the most referenced marketing books of our time, defines real time as follows:

"Real time means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means ideas percolate, then suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience. It’s when companies develop (or refine) products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it."

Now, I am hesitant to go against the view of such a revered industry luminary and this idea of being extremely in tune with the zeitgeist of the moment should be best practice for all of us marketers, but I don’t think that it goes far enough.

The moment the super bowl went dark was a moment shared by millions of Americans. Oreo was not the only brand to tweet, but its copy and image hit the spot with the audience and the story traveled beyond those watching the Super Bowl.

Now ‘moment’ and ‘hitting the spot’ are the keywords for me, not ‘Super Bowl’, as the moments we have with our consumers are not always shared with millions of Americans. But the Oreo example has created a slew of advice pointing marketers towards creating a list of public events and then lying in wait . This might sound like fun, but is it real time marketing?

Yes, this is marketing in real time, in that speedy reaction times are required, compressing the normal creative process, but isn’t this definition of real time marketing more centric to the marketer, rather than to the consumer?

The Oreo moment was no different to regular broadcast media and PR. It skilfully leveraged creative smarts and modern tools to do better what we did yesterday and creating brand awareness, a vital part of the marketing mix. But it’s still the blunt edge of what we can do today as marketers.

So, enough about us, what would a consumer define as real time marketing?

Perhaps they wouldn’t call it marketing, but they would want to know how we can help them in their moment of want or need.

Apparently, one in seven (or 32 million) Americans will shop in a supermarket today and according to Statista , 100 million Americans watched the Super Bowl in 2013. Imagine if Oreo touched the consumer not just in the lucky (let’s face it, it was lucky) moment when they were engaged in the television (and probably a whole different beer orientated snack experience), but at the moment they were considering the cookies for their family? Maybe slipping a quick coupon to their phone or a reminder of the good times they’d had eating Oreos.

Maybe a cookie buying experience is a poor example, our experience of many brands and services is more intimate than the relationship with have with our cookies and this relationship is more fluid than the old linear days when we engaged via the silos of marketing -> sales -> service.

This fluid interaction is often referred to as a conversation and these conversations span way more than the initial attract/awareness phase of the customer journey in that they are a constant through purchase and onto customer service.

And, of course, a conversation is real time.

I don’t mean it’s constantly asynchronous, requiring an instant response, like a verbal conversation, although at some points in customer service it would need to be, but it needs to be highly contextual, understanding what went on before and personalized to what the consumer may need next, in that moment ,and delivered at a cadence that matches our objectives and the consumer’s needs.

This I think is real time marketing. Perhaps it can sell more Oreos, but you won’t need to wait for it to go dark to find that consumer moment.

Ian Truscott Ian Truscott

Ian Truscott has the unofficial and honory title of the “Träger des Firmen-Megaphons” for censhare, bringing 20 years of B2B software experience to our company (surely starting as a child) to lead marketing here. Luckily for us in the Munich office, he’s found the kettle and some tea bags – look at him, he’s happy.

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