Being really creative with real-time marketing

The old adage is that good creative takes time. And shrinking schedules and talk of “data-driven decision-making” and “marketing algorithms” probably make a lot of creative folks uncomfortable.

So how do you unleash creativity in the era of real-time marketing (RTM)? Here are three tips.

Tip #1: Real-time creative doesn’t happen in real time

Much preparation needs to be done in advance of a real-time creative opportunity for the creative to be truly compelling and relevant. Your creative team or teams need to be very well-educated and versed in your market, your competitors, and your business.

There won’t be time for deep, detailed creative briefs and exploration. When an opportunity presents itself for real-time creative, the execution needs to be a matter of applying knowledge to that opportunity.

This is obviously easier said than done. But your odds are far greater for RTM success when your teams are geared up, in the know, and ready to go.

Tip #2: You need an infrastructure that supports real-time

The magic of Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ campaign was not its spontaneity. Rather, it was the marketing infrastructure that enabled that now-famous tweet to be launched so “spontaneously.”

RTM requires you to have an infrastructure in place to enable creative to function in real time. All of your relevant stakeholders who will need to approve any piece of communications—an ad, email, tweet, post, etc.—need to be as prepared and agile as your creative teams to be successful. That could mean just marketing leaders. It could mean sales or business unit leaders. It could mean legal.

Whoever is involved, a clear process and protocol need to be in place to review and sign off on creative.

If there’s no infrastructure in place to review and approve work in a relatively on-demand fashion, then real time can suddenly become long time, and RTM opportunities will be lost.

Tip #3: Big ideas have to marry with big data

Nowadays, creatives need to love metrics. Deeply. Passionately. With a fire. If they’re going to be asked to help optimize campaigns in real time, they need to understand what all of the variables are, what the KPIs are, how they all impact each other, and how the creative must ultimately deliver against the media plan.

I know that a lot of creative pros, old school and new school, don’t necessarily want to hear that. But as data increasingly creates RTM opportunities, it will increasingly influence the way we create everything.


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