Remember when Oakley provided sunglasses to the Chilean miners as soon as they were rescued from their underground captivity? That wasn’t part of Oakley’s marketing plan. But by responding promptly to the situation, it paid off in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity.
The days when you could plan long-range marketing and public relations programs on your own timetable are over. What counts today is speed and agility, i.e., the ability to act quickly, as soon as opportunities or problems arise. While your competitors scramble to adjust, you can seize the initiative, open new integrated marketing channels, and grow your brand.
Respond Rapidly To Problems
According to best-selling author David Meerman Scott, someone at your company needs to be in charge of marketing “right now.” Does your company have someone with the authority to act when circumstances dictate a rapid response?
In the book, “Real-Time Marketing,” Scott describes the value for businesses of all sizes to be able to respond to events and circumstances, even as they are happening. Applying the lesson to an audience of musicians and international music merchants at the NAMM Convention, Scott used the example of a professional touring musician whose Taylor guitar was manhandled and broken during a United Airlines flight. That musician, Dave Carroll, tried in vain for nearly a year to get United Airlines to take responsibility. Finally, out of frustration and a desire to move on, he decided to write three songs about the experience and post them to YouTube. His first song, “United Breaks Guitars,” quickly went viral (now with over 12 million views).
Yet even after the video and resulting press attention, there was still no response from United.
Capitalize On Opportunities Quickly
Taylor Guitars, however, quickly capitalized on the incident. Mere days after Carroll’s video, Taylor uploaded a response featuring helpful advice for touring musicians, letting them know that the TSA allows guitars to be brought onboard as a carry-on (that video now has over 500,000 views). Meanwhile, a guitar case manufacturer offered Carroll a free replacement and rebranded one of its products as a “Dave Carroll signature model.” Both companies benefitted from the valuable free publicity.
Real-time marketing is not about viral videos and social media. As Scott says, “Real-time is a mindset. Social media are just tools.”