The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
— Henri Bergson, French Philosopher and Educator
We have a brand new term that is creating considerable buzz: Real Time Marketing. And like most trends that reach the level of “buzz worthiness,” this one will most likely fade into the same ignominious darkness that befit most fads.
First, what is it?
Wikipedia’s definition is as good as any: “Real-time marketing is marketing performed ‘on-the-fly’ to determine an appropriate or optimal approach to a particular customer at a particular time and place.”
Twitter is rolling out its API to allow marketers to use their platform and market on the fly. Marketers can now make decisions breathtakingly fast. And, of course, who has designed these marketing tools? Engineers! Surprise… surprise… surprise. Marketers who, by and large, have an inferiority complex to algorithmically oriented engineers think that faster is always better. It is not. Only better is better.
The Downside: Speed vs. Thoughtfulness
I would argue that the chances for over-correcting one’s messaging or product selection “on-the-fly” is overwhelmingly prone to happen. Decisions will be made compulsively instead of being well thought out. Speed, in this case, replaces thoughtfulness. The lack of marketing thoughtfulness is matched by the pundits who also tout RTM. Of course, most of these pundits have never marketed anything themselves, just like the engineers who create the technologies.
Here is what Jonathan Gardner guest blogger for eConsultancy had to say about Twitter’s new RTM product:
“[It] brings the science of marketing to Twitter, with more data and analytics in the CMO’s dashboard, allowing execution in real time. Undoubtedly we’ll see more multi-screen campaigns, with marketers bringing powerful programmatic tools to bear on a new social channel. We should all be excited by Twitter joining us in the movement to make digital advertising smarter and more efficient.”
Great marketing, like great food, takes time to cook. There is something fundamentally wrong here as technology solutions are distracting marketers from doing their jobs. Our ever-evolving tools have become the masters of marketing. Compulsion has replaced thought.
What is lost is our ability to truly comprehend as we get lost in the data and the compulsion to act on-the-fly. And without comprehension, our eyes cannot see.