Getting Real About Real-Time Marketing #6: Real-Time Challenges

The following is part of a series of blog posts related to 2013’s hottest point of social discussion—real-time marketing. This is the second post in the series. The first post is here. The second post is here. The third post is here. The fourth post is here. The fifth post is here.

Real-time marketing… it sounds great, but it also sounds like a headache and an insurmountable task for many brands. Organizations are built to be risk-averse and move slowly. That's not exactly what real-time marketing demands from brands, and that's why challenges for real-time marketing live at the organizational level.

  • People are rewarded for being safe. Perfection and speed are incompatible, and being safe doesn't fly when you're moving fast. Oreo was able to move fast while also being safe because the right people were on-call and able to approve everything quickly. That situation is the exception, not the rule.
  • Organizations are siloed. Organizations are segregated by expertise and skill. Real-time marketing is everyone's job. Customer service may need to be brought in. Corporate communications should be involved in some instances. Real-time marketing doesn't come with boundaries. It's not one team's or person's job. It's everyone's job depending on the opportunity or threat from a given situation.
  • Unclear benefits. There's no guarantee you're going to get anything out of a single real-time marketing tactic. Your post might not catch on. Your ultra-fast customer service may go unappreciated. Businesses have a lot of opportunities at their fingertips with limited time and resources. Real-time marketing is about relevance and engagement without a clear line to ROI all the time. That can make it difficult to justify allocating resources to monitor conversations and culture, while looking for opportunities to join conversations.
  • Decisions by committee. Committees are intended to avoid risk and slow things down. They're an inherent part of many organizations, but they're slow. The longer you wait, the less relevant you may become.

Think Differently

An organization isn't going to change to accommodate for real-time marketing, but they don't need to as long as people are encouraged to think differently about what real-time requires. To be successful, organizations must:

  • Empower teams from the top to take action and pursue opportunities--not just reward the status quo
  • Integrate and align across teams
  • Encourage and be okay with experimentation and even failure
  • Promote a culture of agile approvals and marketing

Now, this isn't meant to suggest shifting mindsets is simple or easy. It's an ongoing process. Social media faced the same hurdles in many organizations years ago, but after educating and continuing to push, social media has become part of most organizations' marketing plans.

We're marketing in a time in which speed equates to relevance. Consumers are living moment-to-moment. The brands that can reach consumers at those specific moments will stand out. The brands that reach out too late are nothing more than forgettable.