Book Review: Real-Time Marketing

by contributor on November 1, 2010 in Social Media

This is my third book review for the Eloqua “It’s All About Revenue” blog, but before I get started, here’s a some breaking news: In the past 5 minutes, the author, David Meerman Scott, released a free e-book, titled: “Real Time: How Marketing & PR at Speed Delivers Measurable Success.“  The e-book is hosted on WebInkNow, David’s blog.  Go grab it.  I was treated to a sneak preview this weekend, and it’s nothing short of fascinating.  The takeaway: Employ real-time PR strategies, outperform your market.  It’s simply unambiguous.  Now onto the review.

Let me begin with a caution: This book will shatter your PR model.  It will fracture it beyond recognition.  But rest easy.  It will also put it back together again in a vastly improved way.

The best ideas are those that are so simple, they manage to hide in plain sight.  Some of these discoveries turn into landmark businesses (an online “yearbook” for everyone in the world, a global auction, digital classifieds), while others become concepts that alter the way professionals think and act.

David Meerman Scott’s brand new book Real-Time Marketing & PR (Wiley) is a shining example of the latter.  That is, David creates a business case for “immediacy” so ironclad that, in companies across the world, “tomorrow” will soon become code for “too late.” And when that happens — when communications professionals develop reflexive recognition of real-time opportunities — “now” will become the call to arms for this generation of PR leaders (mercifully laying to rest yesterday’s hackneyed “join the conversation” slogan).

Speaking of catch-phrases, David suggests companies begin replacing the term “social media” (which is encumbered by the weight of triviality) with “real-time media.”  He explains why in the video below.

Put another way, Real-Time Marketing & PR is as much a “movement” as it is a book.  It marks the moment companies stop viewing time as a shield (that is, hiding behind the clock for as long as it takes to perfect a message) and begin seeing it as a sword.  David cuts no corners in his veritable “how-to” guide for turning time into competitive advantage.

The first thing you’ll experience when reading Real-Time Marketing & PR is a feeling of panic.  That is, the book’s case for immediacy is so persuasive that you may find yourself wanting to read it faster. You will want to get started now. My advice: Read it in a captive, disconnected environment, like on an no-WiFi flight (United “offers” many).  That way, there will be technical guardrails to prevent you from putting it down, inchoate, and getting started prematurely on your real-time PR plan.  After all, right up to the very last page, the book is filled with examples, insights and counsel you don’t want to miss, such as:

  • “The successful organization is one that pushes decision-making as far down in the organization as possible.”  Absolutely brilliant insight into the day-to-day reality of a real-time communications program.  The model can only truly work if individual contributors are empowered to act outside of the multi-layered morass of internal approvals.
  • Think in terms of “their time” versus “your time.”  One of the themes in Real-Time Marketing & PR is the notion of responding on your audience’s schedule, not yours.  In many ways this is a companion mindset to “inbound marketing” — that is, to redirect your thinking from your own solutions and to your buyers’ needs.
  • “Social media are tools.  Real time is a mindset.”  Not only grammatically accurate (finally, someone who recognizes “media” as plural!), but it’s also the mantra for the entire real time movement.
  • Real-world, real-time examples from United, Toyota, BP, Sky News, TMZ, Avaya and even Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

Of course speed boats create massive wakes, and racing toward real-time presents a variety of new and unanticipated challenges for marketers.  Reading this book, I found myself thinking about how much more important judgment becomes in the real-time era.  In fact, one could argue that the importance of an individual’s judgment is inversely proportional to the amount of time afforded to planning a response.

Executives should also think about how they want to go about creating a culture that embraces real time communications.  Companies that strive for “perfection” will need to make concessions — fast and perfect seldom co-exist — and organizations that reward top performers may want to create a new award category.

To that end, it shouldn’t only be a must-read for marketing communications professionals, but, perhaps even more importantly, the executives who chart corporate culture.

David Meerman Scott recently spoke at Eloqua Experience 2010 on the value of real-time marketing and public relations. He serves on the Eloqua advisory board.


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  • David Meerman Scott

    Joe, I am way flattered. Comparing my idea to eBay and Facebook? Wow.

    Anyway, I do think that for marketing and PR people the ideas of real-time (what I learned while working on a Wall Street trading floor) are essential to success.

    Glad that you liked my book and thanks so much for writing about it.

  • Joe Chernov

    What, no love for Craigslist? ;)

    Honestly, David, I employ the spirit, if not the letter, of your book every day professionally. And I aspire to weave in a little more each day. It’s more than a good book, it’s an important one.


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  • Keith Jennings


    I love the example David uses of Eloqua’s Joe Payne, who announced Oracle’s acquisition of Market2Lead in a real-time blog post, and subsequently owned the conversation.

    Your book review is one of the best I’ve read. You are right: real-time is a mindset AND a movement.

    • Joe Chernov


      Wow! Thank you for the kind words. You made my morning. Heck you made my day.

      The Payne/Market2Lead example is a gem. David has added a lot of value to Eloqua as an advisor.

      I am looking for another book to read / review for the Eloqua blog. Any suggestions?


  • Keith Jennings

    I recommend John Jantsch’s latest book, “The Referral Engine.”

    David’s book gives us a “real-time engine” to engage customers and prospects. John’s book gives us the “referral engine” to cement that relationship and propel it forward. Together, hopefully, these engines give us revenue. (How about that tie-in to your blog’s theme!)

    Hope this helps. Great to connect with you. We are fairly new Eloqua customers (Jackson Healthcare). And we’ve enjoyed a great relationship with David Meerman Scott. He’s written this month’s feature essay for a publication I edit.

  • Joe Chernov

    Glad to have you on board. Don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me if there’s anything I can do to help. I’ll certainly check out “The Referral Engine” … and thanks for the “revenue” plug, nice work ;)

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