Mobile Marketing, Relevance, and Oreo Moments

Since Oreo’s big moment at the last Super Bowl, almost every marketer has sought similar real-time successes in channels ranging from blog posts to video and from social to mobile. The result has been a preponderance of messages that relate to real events but are not relevant to the brand or to the people who follow that brand.

Relevant or Noise?

Something is relevant when it’s practical, has applicability to the matter at hand, and contains a traceable, significant, and logical connection (see: Webster). Just because it’s Talk like a Pirate Day or the season premiere of The Walking Dead doesn’t mean that brands need to or should acknowledge those things.

The question isn’t if brands can use the theme or event; it’s if brands should use those things. Here are some thoughts to guide those seeking real-time successes:

The Question of Permission

In many cases, brands shouldn’t usurp a holiday as a way to market the latest special or event. If the day is germane to the brand, though, they should. It’s a way to connect with their customers, increase their return on investment.

In the case of a national tragedy or disaster, it behooves brands to exercise social responsibility and restraint. They need to step away from the real-time and think about an appropriate response. They might decide to pause their marketing efforts, or choose to share ways to help the hurting.

The Question of Planning

Erik Forsell, the CMO at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, believes that real-time marketing happens because of planning. He laughingly puts the resort’s marketing efforts this way: “…you can run an amazing campaign [and] have amazing messaging, but if it doesn’t snow, that’s a hard thing to overcome. The joke is, if it snows and people come, marketing didn’t really have to do much. If it doesn’t snow, it’s marketing’s fault.”

For Forsell’s marketing efforts, messaging may be planned in advance, but choosing which message to share rests heavily upon current weather conditions. It wouldn’t do, for instance, to share a mobile message about a deal on skis if little to no snow has fallen in the past 72 hours.

The message is shelved in favor of one that shares information about an optional activity. It might be supplemented with an “evergreen” message in order to establish loyalty and return visits during seasons other than the skiing one.

The Question of Process

One of the main keys to fluidity and relevance with real-time marketing is an idea that borrows from crisis communications: establish processes for situations long before a situation arises. At a ski resort, the people charged with monitoring social and mobile campaigns have to be able to respond to changing weather such as wind or blizzard conditions. Those same people also have to know to whom to turn when they no longer have responses at the ready and need permission for new communications.

The Question of Practice

It’s said that practice makes perfect, but the truth is that practice makes better. It’s only through practice that the next iteration of messages has a chance of being relevant. That’s how Oreo finally had its moment; the brand had plans and processes in place, but it was the practice of those things that led to the quintessential “Oreo moment.”

What do you do to ensure that your mobile marketing remains relevant in a real-time world?