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03/27/2009 How Fast Can Your Marketing Move?

One of the most touted benefits of online has always been that you could change your marketing more easily than other media. It doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything and it doesn’t mean it won’t take you time to make the change. But it does mean you can move faster in the online medium more than you can print, TV or radio.

So now that we can move faster, do marketers truly take advantage of this? An article at Clickz.com got me thinking about this. They described a home repair service that optimized its paid search effort based on bad weather. 

American Residential Service’s marketing partner tracked weather patterns across the U.S. based on the understanding that the more extreme the weather, the more business ARS usually did. When storms hit certain areas, they wanted to make sure ARS was top of mind when people quickly, and sometimes desperately, needed help fixing their heating, air conditioning, sewers and drains. Face it, when one of these breaks down, you’re quite unhappy until someone fixes it.

So ARS’ marketing group identified the places where they would find those people. But they needed to be very nimble to take advantage of the opportunity. Once they saw the patterns, they shifted their paid search to those geographic areas hit by the bad weather. It was smart, fast, and, apparently, very effective.

I’ve seen and built online marketing that could tell where someone lived and could serve them geographically specific information. But those types of applications usually rely on a set logic. I’ve rarely seen marketing strategies that can react quickly to real time events.

Some, like Super Bowl advertising, don’t move at all, even when they know events will happen. There are many examples of missed opportunity around search, for example.

So how can you make your marketing faster? How can you turn it into Speedy Gonzales?


Look at what ARS did:

  • They set up a listening mechanism. If you want to react, you have to know when something happens. To do that, you have to listen. ARS listened through weather reports. Your brand could do the same, whether its watching markets, to news feeds or other social media listening tools.
  • They had an action plan. Once you’ve listened you need to have concrete steps to put in place once you have a trigger event. You have to map out the steps before hand, so that implementation is quick AND easy. Remember, time is of the essence here. The plan should not only tell you what to do, it should also tell you when NOT to do anything.
  • They had a strong conversion mechanism. Since you have a limited time opportunity, don’t use this as simply a branding exercise. Tie the problem you’re going to solve to a product or service you offer now. Make it easy for someone to convert; you should clearly show how you’re going to lift the weight off of your customers’ shoulders.

This type of marketing brings out the true promise of online marketing. While the examples focus on search, I think it would be worth it to examine doing so with online advertising networks as well. God knows they have the inventory.

Most importantly, put together a good strategic plan on how you’re going to move fast; how you’re going to act and why you’ll grow business doing so. Your clients need this. It also gives them a good reason to pay you for listening, a reason that’s clearly connected to ROI.

Maybe your business or clients don’t provide anything that has to do with outside events. Or maybe you need to use your imagination and you might uncover a missed opportunity.

Or, as Speedy said "Ándale! Ándale! Arriba! Arriba!"


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