Imagine a huge company announces it is to acquire one of your competitors. It hit the wires five minutes ago. What would you do right now? Not tomorrow. Now. How about writing a blog post about it in real-time?
That’s what Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua did when Oracle announced the acquisition of Market2Lead, a company that is also in the marketing automation arena.
The Oracle announcement contained only a North Korea style one-paragraph announcement. So Payne realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to immediately write a blog post and define what the announcement meant to the wider marketplace.
In his post “Oracle joins the party” published a few hours after the Oracle announcement, Payne said (in part): “I expect Oracle’s entry to make a major difference in the attention paid to this sector. It’s going to open marketers’ eyes, and, as a result, expand the market. This is exactly the type of movement this industry needs. You see, the potential market for lead management systems is less than 10 percent penetrated.”
With this, Eloqua owned the soundbite for an acquisition announcement made by Oracle. As a result of this real-time market commentary, Eloqua became an important part of the resulting stories appearing in BusinessWeek, InfoWorld, Customer Experience Matrix, PC World, Customer Think, and more.
Had Payne waited even a few more hours, the opportunity would have been lost. The same principles apply to all businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.
QUICK BREAK: Congratulations to David Meerman Scott. His newest book, REAL-TIME MARKETING & PR released the first week of this month hit bestseller status on the Wall Street Journal and USA Today on November 7, 2010. David’s been a long-time contributor and friend to Cincom Expert Access. To celebrate the bestselling success of another Cincom Expert Access contributor, the first 25 people to leave comments on how they view the real-time business revolution now going on, pro or con, will win a copy of David’s book.
THE REAL-TIME REVOLUTION
Just like the transformation of the financial markets resulting from real-time data several decades ago, all businesses find ourselves in a real-time revolution. Businesspeople are feeling their way forward in search of new truths. The laws have changed. The road signs are gone. It’s like trying to drive across America with a map made in 1950, before the Interstate system. On the ground you can hardly find a trace of Route 66!
The Internet has fundamentally changed the pace of business, compressing time and rewarding speed.
Here are several ways that your organization can enable real-time marketing & PR:
CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS NOW
Finding ways to interact with customers on a regular basis and in real time is something of an art form. But if you have the right creative approach social media can now make communication instant, easy and free.
The cookies are ready!
Albion Cafe in Shoreditch, London, sends a tweet (Twitter ID: @albionsoven) when baked goods come fresh and hot from the oven. Example: Freshly baked crumbly Chocolate Chip Cookies stuffed with oozy chocolate chips. http://bakertweet.com/m/721 (the URL points to a photo of the cookies). Locals subscribe so they know exactly when to pop over. Albion Cafe uses BakerTweet, a tool that makes it easy for bakers to tweet when something is fresh out of the oven.
DEVELOP A REAL-TIME COMMUNICATIONS POLICY
Develop an effective code of real-time communications and proactively embed it throughout your organization. Guidelines mean employees know they have the freedom to communicate in real time when the opportunity arises. Train it, demonstrate it, discuss it and review it until this becomes second nature to everyone. Have your people internalize it as deeply as the instincts that tell them when it’s safe to turn left at a traffic light (or right if they’re Brits). This is fully possible.
IBM’s code is called Social Computing Guidelines. The purpose is to provide rules to help employees engage the marketplace and customers in real time—effectively and responsibly.
“IBM wants IBMers to communicate,” says Tim Washer, head of social media productions for IBM worldwide. Washer was part of the team that developed the document. “A big part of being engaged in the community is feeling comfortable with what you can say and what you can’t say, so we wanted to establish the boundaries. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, then you need to adhere to the guidelines. The guidance we offer is that, if you give perspective on a topic that has something to do with IBM, we want you to speak as an IBMer.”
ENABLE REAL-TIME TECHNOLOGIES
To support real-time business, you need technology infrastructure every bit as sophisticated as a financial trading floor. When well-integrated into an appropriate technology backbone these modules work together to feed the dashboard that your marketers, PR professionals, salespeople, and executives use every day.
THE REAL-TIME ORGANIZATION
I’ve talked with people all over the world who are wrestling with the challenge, and most are not at all comfortable with adopting a real-time mindset. It’s not on the corporate agenda or the business-school curriculum. And when the notion is put to them, many people dismiss quick response to opportunities and threats as “reckless” or “risky.”
An immensely powerful competitive advantage flows to organizations whose people understand the power of real-time information.
Attitudes are so ingrained that even when confronted with an iceberg off the bow, companies persist in choosing slow and cautious over quick and nimble. Way too much time is spent checking, getting permission, researching and running it past “experts.” By the time a decision is finally reached it’s time to head for the lifeboats.
DEVELOP A REAL-TIME MINDSET
The real-time mindset recognizes the importance of speed. It is an attitude to business (and to life) that emphasizes moving quickly when the time is right.
The process starts with an understanding just how severely conventional methods handicap business functions—especially marketing and PR—in the always-on, world of instant communication.
The conventional approach favors a “campaign” (note the war metaphor) that requires people to spend weeks or months planning to hit “targets.” Agencies must be consulted. Messaging strategies must be developed. Advertising space/time must be bought. Conference rooms and refreshments must be prepared for press conferences. Do we serve them sushi or sandwiches?
In planning ahead, marketing and PR teams commonly look back. What were we doing five or six quarters ago? What happened at the trade show last year? In doing so they ignore what’s happening right now, today, this instant.
Within your organization, develop a mindset focused on today, not just six months from now!
If you’re the leader, and you want to cultivate a real-time mindset throughout your organization, tear down the command-and-control mentality. Recognize your employees as responsible adults. Empower them to take initiative. Give them opportunities to hone their communication skills, give them clear guidelines as to what’s appropriate and what’s not.
Scale and media buying power are no longer a decisive advantage.What counts today is speed and agility. While your competitors scramble to adjust, you can seize the initiative, open new channels, and grow your brand.