Seizing the Moment: Highlights of David Meerman Scott’s “Real-Time Marketing” Talk

May 18th, 20117 Comments

alarm clockDavid Meerman Scott, author of “Real-Time Marketing and PR” and “The New Rules of Marketing and PR“, spoke on Day 4 of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit 2011.  He focused on the importance of real-time, instant engagement, and one of his overarching messages was “Social media are tools.  Real time is a mindset.”

Social Media Success Summit - May 2011Scott emphasized the importance of seizing marketing opportunities in real time, and presented compelling examples of companies that did just that:

Oakley and the Chilean miners - Who can forget the miners trapped underground for so many weeks last year? When they finally emerged, they were wearing Oakley sunglasses. Oakley had jumped at the chance to donate 33 pairs of $180 sunglasses to protect the miners’ eyes, and garnered $41 million in equivalent advertising time, as over a billion people watched the dramatic rescue.

Wynn Hotels and Paris Hilton – Paris Hilton was arrested in Las Vegas for drug possession in late August 2010.  Wynn Hotels quickly saw the “buzz snatching” opportunity and announced they were banning her from their Vegas hotel.   Subsequent articles – last count, over 5,000 of them – about her arrest include a mention of Wynn Hotels’ ban.

Scott said that reporters and editors are always “looking for the second paragraph” (context, or an additional angle) of a story, so marketers should react quickly if they can somehow insert their product or service into a newsworthy event, as Wynn Hotels did.

Eloqua and Oracle or “How a Company Made $1 million with a Blog Post” – Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua, a B2B marketing software automation company, reacted quickly when news broke that Oracle acquired his company’s competitor, Market2Lead.  That evening, he wrote a blog post “Oracle Joins the Party” which analyzed what the acquisition meant to the industry. Reporters then had that second paragraph, and Eloqua and Joe Payne were continually mentioned in the same breath as Oracle and Market2Lead in subsequent stories.

Eloqua then took it one step further and emailed Market2Lead customers a friendly invitation to take advantage of a special transition-to-Eloqua program.  Surprisingly, many of these customers were hearing of the acquisition for the first time from Eloqua, not Market2Lead or Oracle!  To date, Eloqua has closed over $1m of new business as a result of this effort.

David Meerman Scott's books
David Meerman Scott’s books – image from

Digging Deeper For Marketing Lessons

Scott dissected the United Breaks Guitars story because it’s full of lessons for marketers.  Quick summary of the incident:  In mid 2008, singer-songwriter Dave Carroll watched helplessly from a United plane as his beloved Taylor guitar was battered and manhandled on the tarmac.  After a year-long unsuccessful effort to get compensation from United, the polite Canadian recorded a song and video about his frustrating experience.

The video went viral, first with bloggers and then with the mainstream media.  In fact, his YouTube video now has over 10 million views.  (Scott presented various timeline charts which showed the daily pace of the viralness.)  Meanwhile, United remained tightlipped throughout the public opinion firestorm that followed, and remained so even as Scott contacted them recently for his research.

Defensive lesson for United: Scott has a general recommendation for those in a position of defense, such as United was: Speak like a human.  You don’t have to admit wrongdoing, but do say something true and relevant.  Scott would have recommended that United duct-tape a camera onto a suitcase and chronicle its bumpy ride from origin to destination.  Perhaps then the second paragraph of the “Singer seeks revenge with YouTube” story would have been the intricate process of baggage handling, rather than “No comment from United.”

Offensive/buzz-snatching lesson from Taylor Guitars and Calton Cases:  Very soon after the United Breaks Guitars video went viral, Taylor Guitars’ Bob Taylor put up his own YouTube video about how to best travel with your guitar.  The video took less than an hour to produce, has gotten over 500,000 views, and Scott said 2010 was a banner year for Taylor Guitars.  Similary, Calton Cases, which makes high-end guitar cases, created a “Dave Carroll Traveler’s Edition” case, which has also been successful.

[Just fyi, Scott never used the words "defensive", "offensive" or "buzz-snatching" - those terms are based on my own interpretation.  Also, an aside - there's a IBM’s and Cisco’s.

  • Implement real-time monitoring systems to continuously scan the horizon for opportunities. Individuals can use Google Alerts and TweetDeck or Hootsuite. A more formalized approach might include Social Media Measurement Systems at the enterprise or agency level.
  • Develop and propogate a real-time mindset throughout your business.
  • When Higher-ups Push Back

    When advocating and implementing this real-time-marketing-using-social-media idea, you might face pushback from higher-ups in your company. Scott says this resistance is based on fear and often plays out with questions and objections such as:

    • “What’s the ROI?” Scott’s answer is twofold: 1) He first asks, “What’s the ROI of your company-issued Blackberries; i.e., your other real-time device?” 2) He then presents an analysis showing that Fortune 100 companies engaged in real-time communications enjoyed higher stock valuations.
    • “We can’t engage over social media because our company is _______ (insert: B2B, B2C, B2G, NPO, a government agency, in health care, in finance, etc).”  To this, Scott point to the US Air Force as his poster child for an organization that could make a good case for not using social media. Scott quoted Captain Nathan Broshear who said, “If the generals trust a 23-year-old to work on a $50m airplane, why wouldn’t they trust him on Facebook?”

    How to Deal with Higher-ups’ Fear of Social Media and Real-Time Engagement

    This question came up during the Q & A.  Scott responded with 3 choices:

    1. Try to be an agent of change.  If, for example, you can make a YouTube video that generates a sale or a WSJ article, then you have a success story to bring to management.  Don’t go against company policy, but don’t necessarily ask for permission either.  And if at all possible, get salespeople on your side to help make your case.
    2. Resign yourself to the status quo.
    3. Just resign.

    This was an informative, inspiring session from David Meerman Scott.  I’ve ordered his book and look forward to even more insights.  My main question now is – How do you get the song “United Breaks Guitars” out of  your head?

    Suzanne Doughty
    Cedar Sage Marketing

    4 Responses to “Seizing the Moment: Highlights of David Meerman Scott’s “Real-Time Marketing” Talk”

    1. Another great post Suzanne, thanks for taking the time to present the content from Social Media Success Summit 2011 in such a comprehensive way.

      (I’ve ordered David Meerman Scott’s new book as well!)

      “See you” at tomorrow’s sessions!


    2. Suzanne says:

      Hi Laura,
      Thanks for your comment. I enjoyed your blog post as well! Looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions too – lots of great info packed into 3 hours!

    3. Suzanne — Wow — you were paying attention! Please excuse my lack of a real time response to this…

    4. Suzanne says:

      Hi David,
      Thanks so much for commenting. I really enjoyed your presentation, and pledge to look for “second paragraph” opportunities!

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