Here in northeast Ohio, we’re still celebrating our Cavs victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. I know it was several weeks ago, but give us a break, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to celebrate a national championship. But before over a million people flooded downtown Cleveland for the parade and J.R. Smith spent at least a week without wearing a shirt, I received an interesting e-mail. It came just minutes after the final buzzer sounded as the Cavs players were celebrating on the court and the Warriors players were walking dejectedly back to their locker room. I was sitting in my living room staring in disbelief at my TV, taking it all in, when I heard the familiar chime of my phone alerting me of a new e-mail. I’m not sure why I checked it in the midst of witnessing my home town team win a national championship, perhaps it was out of instinct, but I picked up my phone and saw that the e-mail was from a regional grocery store chain informing me that I could pick up my Cavs national championship merchandise at area stores in just two days. That’s right, a collection of hats, shirts, mugs and another promotional products emblazoned with the Cavs championship logo would be available, at my local store, in less than 48 hours. This is impressive on two levels. First, to have those products ready to go (although they were likely already produced and there’s an equal amount of Warriors championship merchandise in a warehouse somewhere) and that the e-mail, including images of the products, was sent within minutes of the final buzzer.
While I was waiting in line to get my Cavs championship can cooler two days later, I pondered ways in which we can capitalize on timeliness in marketing ourselves and our clients. What better time to reach your potential clients then when they are caught up in the excitement of a recent event? Luckily, I have the sum of the world’s knowledge at my fingertips and was able to find some answers. That’s right, I looked it up on my phone. I found an article that listed 7 Ways to Capitalize on Real-Time Marketing Opportunities. According to the author, keep these things in mind to be able to make the most of striking while the iron is hot.
Know your customers
You might be tempted to use any major event for marketing purposes, but keep your customers and their interests in mind. Don’t tie yourself to an event just because it’s cool or trendy. If it’s not something your customers are in to, it might just seem forced, which could be a big turn off.
Don’t lose your brand voice
This is sort of tied to the first point and can be a bit tricky. If you suddenly change your brand voice and get caught up in the excitement, it might seem facetious and obvious that you are trying to capitalize on a recent event. A billboard along a highway I travel frequently currently features an ad for a high-end jeweler and includes a close up image of one of their items with the text “CHAMPIONS” in an elegant typeface. Very classy and no doubt in accordance with their brand voice.
Have a rock-solid content strategy
Of course, neither of those first points is possible if you don’t already have a content strategy in place. I’m also going to expand this point to include an established visual identity as well. If you already are familiar with the language, both verbal and visual, in which you communicate to your potential customers, it makes it easier to respond spontaneously to current events. Which brings me to the next point:
Of course, no one can predict the future, but the first four points will all help you react quickly and appropriately in order to maximize the success of your campaign. It’s also important to encourage creativity and freedom in your team so that they feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Some of the best ideas start with the phrase, “This might sound crazy, but what if…”
Be personal (at scale)
My example at the beginning of the article is pretty large scale, but it doesn’t have to be. More personal events like getting married or buying a new house can also be great ways to reach your customers, especially if you offer products or services appropriate to the event.
Even if you follow these tips, your campaign still might miss the mark. The nature of real-time marketing makes it a bit fickle. What might have seemed like a major event may blow over by the end of the day and be forgotten tomorrow. But don’t lose hope. Have patience, track and analyze the results and try it again.
Think outside the box
Creativity was touched on under “Be spontaneous” above, but it’s important enough to warrant its own section as well. Although your response should be timely, you’ll still want to leave a lasting impression and the best way to achieve that is by unique, creative and “out of the box” thinking.
I remember one of my college Marketing professors extolling the virtues of reaching your customers when they are ready to buy, but the same importance could be placed on reaching your customers when they’re excited about or moved by something. At about the same time I attended that professor’s class, I took a road trip with some friends (OK, you caught me, it was with the marching band) to cheer on our football team in our division’s national championship. We defeated our opponent handily and even though we had been back on our bus just minutes after the game clock reached zero, a vendor came on board selling shirts that not only featured our team as champion, but included the score as well. Now that’s timely!