a clock with "the time is now" on the clock face

Is Your Brand Living In Real Time?

Like politicians, the “campaign” has been the gold standard for marketers since the beginning of time, and rightly so. As a marketer you have priorities, and the campaign is the perfect vehicle to make consumers aware of those priorities. Pick a month, pick a product, develop a strategy, and voila – you have a campaign.

There is just one problem: Campaigns operate on a company-based timeline, which inherently ignores the timeline of the consumer you are trying to reach. In the world we live in now, the consumer’s timeline is right here and right now. It is real time, and as marketers this means meeting our audience in the moment, rather than during a scheduled campaign out there on the horizon.

Luckily, there are plenty of tactics available to marketers to accomplish this. While many companies have used social media and real time engagement to supplement campaign-specific marketing, these tools are powerful enough to stand on their own. The following tactics can help any company meet their audience where they are at any given moment.

Social Media is a Headliner. OK, OK, this one is obvious, but are you using social media to its fullest potential? Are you posting on Facebook every day? Are you posting on Twitter several times a day? Even on social media, our tendency is to create posts when we have something to say. But what we need to be doing is creating posts when our consumers want to listen. Create a content calendar at the beginning of each month that charts daily posts or topics. Consider writing and scheduling posts in advance to ensure a busy day doesn’t turn into a day with no social engagement. Lastly, it’s not called marketing media. Be social on these platforms; Engage, comment, follow and be present when your consumers are looking for you.

Websites Aren’t Static. Design website, check. Write content for website, check. Launch website, check. Now what? If you’re wondering why your customers aren’t coming back to your website every month, it’s likely because you’re not providing new information to engage them. A news feed or blog is a great method for bringing your audience to your website more often, while improving your odds for website conversions. If you pursue one of these tactics, consider what information a consumer would want. Hint: a mention in the news or press release won’t cut it. For example, for one of our hospital clients, we developed a special feed on their site and we write several stories a week related to wellness, general health, and interesting facts. When the ghost in Field of Dreams told Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come,” he might have also mentioned that regular stadium maintenance would be necessary to keep them coming back for more.

People Are Talking About You. Talk Back. In the age of real time marketing, managing your reputation is more important than ever. As a marketer, this allows you to participate in the conversation that is being held about your brand. Immediate tactics include claiming your business pages on popular review sites, setting up a monitoring tool to keep track of what’s being said on blogs and social media, and developing and executing a consistent plan to monitor and respond. Remember, the theme for this blog [and for better or worse, this world] is real time – monitor constantly, and respond as quickly as possible. Always be intelligent, thoughtful and respectful in your responses.

Campaigns aren’t dead. They are still incredibly useful marketing tools. But in acknowledging that, we also need to remember that the way our audience wants to receive information is changing. If you’ve already used these real time tactics in the past, you’re ahead of the curve. If you don’t employ these tactics in 2013, you’ll be left behind.