When to Use Reactive Marketing Tactics in your SMS Campaign

In most situations, an effective text message marketing campaign is a pro-active one. But there are times when being ready to react to sudden changes of situation (or even a breaking news story) is the right approach.

Understanding how to use reactive marketing is a relatively new discipline, at least for businesses without a powerful PR arm capable of placing stories in mainstream media. Even a decade ago, it was hard to respond to current events in a way that would reach a significant audience. Now, brands can communicate directly – and instantaneously – with consumers via SMS notifications, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Reacting to an industry-specific news story is literally free. All you need is a creative idea that will encourage the audience to re-tweet and share.

A reactive marketing strategy will test your creative mettle to the limit. Unlike pro-active marketing, where the emphasis is on meticulous planning and forecasting, with every contingency catered for, the objective is to respond to that sudden moment, shared by millions, in a way that reflects well on your brand.

Specsavers pulled off an ingenious reactive marketing coup during the 2012 Olympics, when the South Korean flag was erroneously displayed before a North Korea football match (prompting the team to walk off in protest). The mistake seemed tailor-made for the company’s long-running – and widely-recognised – ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ campaign. Within hours of the story breaking, the brand circulated an image of both North Korean and South Korean flags along with their famous tagline (in Korean, save for the company name). It went viral, and stands as a brilliant example of what reactive marketing can achieve.

reactive marketing


Part of the appeal of a truly great reactive response is the frisson of danger: an ill-judged tweet is far likelier when marketing departments are scrambling to be the ‘first responder’ to a breaking story. The small window of opportunity during which stories remain relevant demands brave, innovative decision-making, and a red-tape busting disregard for lengthy authorisation processes. If a reactive marketing idea has to go to the board of directors for approval, it’ll probably miss the boat.

SMS messaging fits snugly into this hyper-speed news cycle paradigm, where events remain hot for hours and days rather than weeks and months. Texting is Twitter’s antecedent. It’s DNA – strict character limits, abbreviations, emoticons, immediacy – is the microblog’s foundation. What works on Twitter will work as a text message, with the added advantage that SMS alerts are usually received and read within minutes; not every Tweeter will be tuned into their feed as consistently.

Pulling off an effective reactive marketing campaign requires placing full trust in your creatives. They need to be hyper-aware of what’s hot, and have a knack for using world events to convey a witty, concise message.

We are holding a free webinar on The Importance of Pro-active Marketing.

Our FREE webinar will take you through:

  • Why you should be pro-active with your communication
  • How your pro-active SMS marketing campaign can become a source for others’ reactive marketing
  • How to make SMS marketing work for your business

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