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Three Strategies to Help Local Businesses Overcome the Challenges of Real-Time Marketing

With nine out of 10 mobile searches leading to an action and more than 50% of those converting to a sale, local businesses and brands that leverage real-time marketing strategies have a greater chance of winning the sale.

Beyond that, there are countless advantages of a real-time marketing strategy and methods for implementing one, such as leveraging trending items, popular hashtags and events to drive local business and website traffic.

Real-Time Marketing Challenges for Brands and Local Businesses

Despite all the pluses, there are some very real challenges that the business or brand will need to overcome for successfully marketing in a real-time environment.

The Challenge – Getting Approvals Quickly

The bigger the brand, the longer it takes to get approvals through the pipeline. From idea to inception, it can take up to a week (or longer) for all the eyeballs to review and sign off.

An example of this is getting an article drafted on a Google update or new feature. A project like this would start with the writer, then the editor, submission to marketing for review, and then to the person responsible for putting the article on the website and clicking publish. If revisions are necessary, that can be another week to get back through the approval process.

The Solution – Empower Trusted Leaders

In order to be more active in real-time, a better solution would be to empower trusted leaders to make these types of decisions to speed the approval process along. Perhaps have a point person for the various areas, such as if it is blog that needs approved, or troublesome tweets that need responded to. Without a sense of urgency, competitors will always get their voices heard first. By the time a piece is sanitized, approved and released, the audience will have moved on to the next big thing.

Take care to invest in training for front line staff. Be sure they are fully educated about relevant content topics, the brand’s core messages and company best practices for solving problems.

The Challenge – Keeping Customers in Real-Time

In the world of real-time marketing, brands can’t be a snoozer. No one willingly buys from a boring brand. Competitors are just a click away and a prospect will be long gone if not intrigued by what the business has to say. Creating useful content that people want to read, watch and interact with is 100% necessary. I’m not saying the business must deliver a Hollywood masterpiece, but it must educate, entertain or help solve a problem for their customers. Ideally, achieving all three simultaneously is the best approach.

The Solution – Give Customers What They Want

The easiest way to get from A to Z here is to focus on what the audience wants and needs, not on the business wants and needs. Businesses that put their customers first can easily create content. Here’s an example:

A customer is planning to attend a wine tasting at your vineyard – what information would they need to know before arriving? E.g. any special preparation, such as eating a light lunch or perhaps, for the woman, a reminder to leave her stilettos at home, because there will be lots of outside walking. Another example is weather condition updates that would impact how the customer should dress the day of the wine tasting. This is the type of information you would want to share with those attending the day before or possibly the morning of the event.

It’s important to be cautious when engaging in real-time without first thinking through possible all the possible hazards. For example, creating a campaign around sunny days during hurricane season is in poor taste. If people feel that a brand is trying to exploit a trending item such as this or they lack authenticity, it could mean trouble for the business.

The Challenge – The Coolness Factor

Let’s face it. Some products and services just aren’t cool, which can make it hard for the brand or business to be cool in real-time. The business might be a solid performer with loyal customers, good products and excellent customer service, but for example, a plumbing supply warehouse just isn’t that cool.

The Solution – Partner with those that Can Bring the Wow

If the brand lacks coolness, there are two basic options to raise their clout: (1) choose not to leverage real-time marketing or (2) partner with others that have more clout or a need. Personally, I recommend the latter.

Here are a few examples of how to up the “wow” factor:

  • Sponsor a local Little League team, and engage customers who are parents in sharing funny stories about their family’s experience with kids’ sports. While it’s not related to plumbing, it will get create real-time content the business can leverage and photos they can share on social media.
  • Donate a portion of sales revenue during a specific timeframe to an important cause. Many local businesses are doing this right now because we are in hurricane season and so many have lost their homes. This will get customers talking about the business and also buying during what might normally being the slow season.

It’s important when using this strategy that the business is not perceived as making a paltry donation just to generate more sales or for commercial gain.

Real-Time Marketing is Real-World

Real-time marketing should meet customers’ wants! Brands that put themselves in the customers’ shoes will more likely meets their customers’ needs. Let the customer decide what’s important, not the PR team.

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