Maybe no event was more a catalyst for the real time marketing discussion than when the power went out during Superbowl XXVII and Oreo (of all brands) responded with this clever little Tweet.

oreo real time marketing tweet

In a matter of minutes Oreo moved this little Tweet thousands of times and within hours there were more than 14,000 Retweets on Twitter.

Oreo just capitalized on an opportune moment to use real time marketing to connect their brand with their consumer.

A Quick Review Of Real Time Marketing

For those less familiar with real time marketing, it really is exactly what we call it.  When an event takes place where a brand can quickly respond through sharing content across developed platforms you have real time marketing.

Sometimes real time marketing is built on the heels of an unexpected event such as the power outage mentioned above.  Other times, brands can create events to drive real time marketing. Just this past weekend during Superbowl 48, U2 and Bank of America ran a real time marketing campaign offering a free download of U2’s newest single which would also drive a donation from Bank of America toward the fight against Aids.


Great cause, all done in real time.

In the case of the Bank of America and U2 real time marketing campaign, they used a giveaway to drive real time marketing as opposed to where OREO responded to a completely unexpected situation.

Both show certain creativity, but obviously OREO was almost immediately responsive whereas the BOA campaign may have been planned months ago.

Either way, both were real time.

Real Time Marketing For The Average Business

For big brands this is something that can be done as many have well developed social media teams along with agencies at their disposal, with this influx of resources it is really easy to have a combination of tools and access that allow for almost instantaneous response to opportune marketing situations.

However, for many small and midsize businesses, those resources aren’t nearly as available leaving the question how realistic is real time marketing for the average business?

While nearly 83% of businesses said they planned on utilizing real time marketing in 2013, I think for the most part it is still highly under utilized.

Now because of the loose definition of real time marketing, I suppose a company that Tweeted out “Next 5 people to share this update win a free cookie” just engaged in real time marketing, so tracking its actual usage is probably more difficult than its anticipated usage.

Having said that, for the average business, and by average I mean size and shape not quality, these small events are the perfect opportunity for utilizing real time marketing.

As opposed to trying to compete with big brands and their big teams, small and midsize companies can really maximize real time marketing by aligning events that they create with marketing campaigns that allow them to engage their relevant audience with an action that will benefit both the person taking action and the brand itself.

A Template For Real Time Marketing For Small and Midsize Companies

Everyone on the planet eats Oreos, so their little Tweet about dunking in the dark made a ton of sense.  However, if you are a small or midsize company selling software or consulting or some other service, 1,000 Retweets of a clever in the moment marketing campaign probably won’t move the needle even an inch.  So really that is a poor investment in marketing.

So let’s look at a way to do real time marketing that may make more sense.

Say your company is a reseller of a cloud based software that manages company networks.  Just this past week you came out with a new and exciting version of the software that you know is going to be a big hit.

Based on the products and services you sell, you know who your audience is, how they may use your products and what they are looking for in a product like yours.

This is a perfect opportunity to deploy a real time marketing campaign.

  • Step 1:  Determine the event.  In this case it is the release of your new software
  • Step 2:  Figure out the actionable item.  Perhaps a 90-day free trial subscription or “X” number of free licenses. These are most effective when they have real value.
  • Step 3: Identify relevant outside events to tie the campaign too (if possible). Think weather, ceremonies, sporting events
  • Step 4:  Match the platform to the action item.  Do they need to Tweet something or Like a page on Facebook?  Perhaps you have a landing page on your website.
  • Step 5:  Set a sense of urgency. For instance only “X” number of people or take action within the next 24 hours.
  • Step 6:  Qualify:  If possible, look for opportunities to qualify so for instance for businesses with more than 10 employees or a certain amount of dollars in revenue.  This can help filter out people who just want free stuff from ones who can become customers.
  • Step 7:  Analyze:  Based on the response to the campaign, make sure you follow up and maximize each engagement opportunity.

Real time marketing is a viable solution for every business large and small, however depending on your audience, products and services, and desired response, you have to build the campaign accordingly.

How does your business maximize real time marketing as part of its integrated marketing strategy?

Next Post: Is Customer Service The Next Big Real Time Marketing Opportunity? 


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.