Real Time Marketing Is Opportunity for the Jack Bauer of Advertising

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by: Scott Goodson

How do you think real time marketing affects what traditional marketers do? How do big marketers cope with the idea that you spend months on end planning, creating, producing and then launching major campaigns that could get hijacked by consumers using blogs, Facebook, or the weapon of choice: Twitter.

Case in point: last week J&J’s Motrin’s new national advertising campaign was brought down by a mob of moms on Twitter. How you prepare for this? What strategy do you use?

"Praying doesn’t sound like a wise strategy to me," says my friend PJ Pereira who broke away from the management of AKQA earlier this year to start his own agency.

Real time marketing is fast becoming the challenge for brand managers. What is real time marketing? Think managing a marketing campaign as if you were Jack Bauer, the lead of Emmy winning show 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland who heads field operations that take you into a number of different directions all at once. Real time marketing is the "flash flood" phenomenon on the Web, in which consumers band together through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Real time marketing has become fairly commonplace by now: A TV show gets canceled, a company’s product turns out to be less than advertised, and boom – an instant protest group forms, using blogs and other "social media" as a megaphone to make its collective voice heard.

Real time marketing is a new challenge brand managers need to get their heads around. What is the appropriate approach?

It’s about being able to respond real time, thinking much like dynamic PR people managing all aspects of an advertising campaign. A mindset that can react to changes in the currents, on daily or hourly events as they unfold. It’s thinking and acting much more like a PR agency and much less like a traditional advertising agency.

"It’s tough," says PJ.

But it does work, and increasingly it’s the mentality needed for modern brands as they manage their marketing campaigns. The more you work this way, the more deft you become at managing this way.

Steve Etzler is leading the biggest conference on the subject: Real Time Communications and Marketing the 14th of January 2009 in New York. Steve said: "There’s a strong correlation between real time and Cultural Movements – ie: StrawberryFrog’s Scion campaign. Turning over the campaign to the community has a lot of real time facets to it. The buzz/word of mouth groundswell is all about real time engagement with the community which causes the Cultural Movement."

Real time marketing does require brands to have a clearer and harder working brand idea, one that can stretch into many different media without breaking a sweat. Without strategic clarity, events could easily overtake a brand real time causing anxiety among clients. The more real time marketing takes hold, the more consumers are engaging with and taking control of brands, the greater the demand for strategic clarity by brand managers. Without the high-end strategy enabling you to focus, you won’t be the rehearsed machine ready to make fast decisions with agility.

Perhaps the biggest impact of real time marketing will be the emphasis on strategic idea and less on execution.

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