Everything is happening now. Instant delivery of films and books to our computers. Instant gratification. And if we can’t have it now, we can certainly get it tomorrow, rather than waiting for the Wells Fargo Wagon or Pony Express to make a delivery.
Social and mobile have combined to shorten the purchasing cycle as consumers can do their research faster, while on the fly. During the most reason holiday season, the Pew Internet & American Life Project discovered that nearly 60% of us used our cell phones as part of the holiday shopping process. We called friends and family for advice, we did comparison shopping, and we researched potential purchases – all while standing there in the store.
Even large ticket item purchases like vehicles and homes can happen more quickly due to the information we have available to us instantly. While they aren’t impulse purchases, the sales cycle is shrinking. That means that businesses have to move faster to seal the deal.
In his book, The Culture Game, organizational culture expert Dan Mezick discusses the need for internal business cultures that learn faster and adapt more readily to change. Businesses that are more “agile,” as Mezick describes them, are organizations that understand that learning is a continuous, fluid process, not a once and done thing. These are the organizations that will understand best how to operate in a real-time economy and business culture.
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A recent report from emarketer indicates that real-time marketing is growing in importance. Acting and reacting to internal and external factors is contingent upon proper interpretation of social data. This can only happen by coupling that data with keen observation. That’s the sort of thing that allows for Comcast’s real-time social customer service, and Oreo’s activity during major events. According to the report, business are:
“rapidly creating content that drives more response and engagement, making on-the-fly changes to marketing plans and developing marketing initiatives around topics and events that are trending on social media. Some marketers are also using real-time social data for strategic business decisions, such as product development.”
From a small business perspective, the social data might be less available, and less important, at least from a pure analytics perspective, while the observation might be more important. It is imperative that all online and offline activities be fully integrated. In fact, for those small businesses reticent to enter the online social space, or now sure how to enter it, they merely need to start with a little inward thinking.
While it’s not the final answer, take a look at what you do in your brick and mortar on a daily basis. Don’t be confounded by how you should operate in the online social space. Take what you are doing in real-time in the real world and move it online. The methods might be different but the principles and goals are the same. Provide the same type of customer experience online as you do offline.
Everything is happening faster, and it’s time to prepare for the real-time culture of our consumers. If we don’t keep up, they’ll pass us by and take their business to those who do.
What changes are you seeing in your business as a result of a real-time culture driven by mobile and social?