US author David Meerman Scott has hit a home-run with his new book Real-Time Marketing & PR (How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now).
The newly-released title makes an ideal companion piece to its best-selling predecessor The New Rules of Marketing & PR.
In between 'New Rules' and 'Real-Time' Scott released a couple of interesting 'quick read' high-concept marketing books - World Wide Rave and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead - but with this new release he has returned to form with a trend-defining book that documents the effect the ever-changing media landscape is having on the marketplace and how business can position itself to capitalise on the opportunities as they unfold in real-time.
Importantly, he addresses the situation the business world finds itself in ("the emerging real-time business environment", as he calls it) and the types of things companies, organisations and individuals can do in order gain a competitive advantage e.g.
- developing a business culture that encourages speed over sloth;
- reading buying signals as people interact with online information
- crowdsourcing product development, naming, and even marketing materials such as online videos;
- engaging reporters to shape stories as they are being written;
- commanding premium prices by delivering products at speed;
- deploying technology to listen in on millions of online discussions and instantly engaging with customers and buyers.
"Now, more than any time in history, speed and agility are decisive competitive advantages", writes Scott.
"Gone are the days when you could plan out your marketing and public relations programs well in advance and release them on your timetable. It’s a real-time world now, and if you’re not engaged, then you’re on your way to marketplace irrelevance."
Scott argues that brands need to engage in real-time with customers, media and other stakeholders, and supports his theory with case studies and up-to-the-minute examples.
United Breaks Guitars
Scott kicks off the book with the story of musician Dave Carroll whose Taylor guitar was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers. After getting no joy from United, Carroll wrote and performed a song ("United Breaks Guitars") and popped it on YouTube. Needless to say, it went viral in no time attracting literally millions of views while at the same time damaging United's reputation.
This story is well-worn and the PR industry would be well aware of it, particularly those involved in crisis and issues management practice.
However, Scott takes us further into the United saga and devotes nearly a whole chapter to how the story unfolded ('Evolution of a Real-Time Media Explosion'); he also examines how Taylor Guitars responded to Carroll's plight via YouTube and shows us the speed with which guitar case manufacturer Calton Cases pounced on the opportunity to create a special edition 'Dave Carroll Signature' case.
Interestingly, while Taylor and Calton responded in real-time, United stood by and did...nothing (can you believe that?).
Other examples include:
- General Motors ran a campaign for the Chevrolet Volt using social media to leverage its sponsorship of the influential South-by-Southwest (SXSW) conference - the goal was to stimulate real-time conversation in advance of the release of the new electric car.
- Chris Reimer's Rizzo Tees thrives on real-time interaction with customers and is big on tapping the crowd for their views on t-shirt designs.
- H&R Block monitors Twitter in real-time enabling it to respond to customer questions (as well as 'nipping in the bud' potential issues caused by employees - more here).
- Hewlett Packard and Heineken have both successfully run contests for young videomakers to create ads for their respective brands (for more detail see Scott's blog here).
- Recruitment agency Hollister engages job candidates through multiple networking communities on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Punk rock cabaret solo artist Amanda Palmer (below) connects in real-time with her fan base via Twitter (she has some half a million followers) Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and her blog.
- Telstra also cracks a mention for its creation of real-time communication guidelines - Telstra 3Rs of Social Media Engagement (of Telstra's effort, Scott says: "Creating interesting ways to get the message home is worth the effort").
Image from Amanda Palmer's Twitpic
David Meerman Scott writes with authority combined with a healthy dose of pragmatism.
While threads of this book are super-relevant to PR people - i.e. the need to respond to emerging issues in real-time before they become crisis material - having such a well-researched overview of the current hyper-connected marketplace in action is extremely beneficial when developing marketing communications strategy.
And then there's the broader need for business to be quick to capitalise on opportunities as they arise because if you don't, a competitor most certainly will.
As Scott says: "Social media are tools...real-time is a mindset".