The ever-important timing consideration of small business marketing

The ever-important timing consideration of small business marketing

Marketers should take a cue from stand-up comedians – Timing is everything!

The other day I spoke with a small business owner to review his marketing campaign that fell flat. He & his partners wanted to know what could be done to improve their efforts in the future. As we’re reviewing the piece on the phone I asked “when did this launch?” I found out they emailed school superintendents the first week of school. Ah ha!

They had the target correct, the offer was pretty good, but boy was their timing off. So let’s talk about the relationship between timing and marketing success.

Keep reading & you too will see why it matters very much WHEN you market – even if it’s to the right audience.

Most marketing campaigns begin by applying the standard formula for success:

60% audience; 30% offer; 10% design

So where does the timing factor fall? I say it’s a portion of the 60% because if your audience doesn’t get your offer when they’re ready to purchase then it’s a wasted effort, no matter how good the offer is.

1. Industry Timing – My client’s case in point is a perfect example of this. Decision makers at schools are otherwise distracted during the first few weeks of a new school year, so it is not the best time to get their attention. Similarly, consumers won’t be installing pools in February, so you must know the best time to get the attention of the target decision makers. If you’re marketing to a new industry segment, educate yourself by doing your homework so that you don’t waste efforts.

2. Channel Timing – Brand Mechanics recently published a detailed analysis of the 10 best times of day/week for social media marketing. Some of their findings are common sense, others were a bit of a surprise to me. For example, as I wrote in the email chapter of my book, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically the best days to email B2B, while Thursdays and Fridays are best for B2C. But, I hadn’t known that the highest percentage of Facebook shares happen beginning Friday evening and all day Saturday. And, Bitly says that most B2B links are clicked weekdays in the 11AM hour.

3. Time of Day – Yes, this matters too. Salespeople know that you don’t call prospects first thing in the morning, but did you know that a blogs best times and highest read rates are early morning? For emails too timing is important. The best open rates for B2B are between 11AM-2PM during peak days.

4. Lifecycle Timing – Also called “triggers” there are certain events that would naturally trigger purchases. These include buying a new home or having a baby. Getting to these folks at the time they need your products & services is crucial to your success. Selling furniture? Purchase new homeowner lists in your target zip codes. Selling diapers? Advertise on the new mommy blogs, or partner with a local hospital. Consider Facebook’s advertiser tool called “real time” marketing. One of their best case studies comes from a wedding photography studio. The studio tested putting an ad on a user’s page as soon as they changed their status to “engaged.” The company claims that with just a few hundred dollars’ investment, they’ve made many thousands of dollars by getting to newly engaged folks before their competitors could.

5. Event Timing – If you’re having a seminar, workshop, or special event consider 6 weeks’ notice, with email follow-ups at two week intervals as the date gets closer. The day before you should plan on sending a final reminder too. I recently received an email inviting me to a seminar the very next day. Not good timing & I wonder how many folks showed up.

6. Two-Step Follow-Ups – One shot marketing almost never works, so how do you plan your follow up touches to maximize response rates? Consider that each channel is handled differently, so follow these industry guidelines for the two most common prospecting channels:
• Direct Mail – follow up with a phone call within two weeks
• Direct Mail – follow up with a second mailing within four weeks
• Email – follow up with a phone call within three business days
• Email – follow up with a second email within two weeks

7. Holiday Timing – It seems that retailers are always one season ahead & while consumer may not respond right away, it makes their to-do list & acts as a reminder. There will always be those that are on top of gift/card giving, but consider those last-minute shoppers that you can appeal to as well. And, remember there are many holidays that marketing can play upon if it makes sense for your business. For example, Arbor Day for a landscaping firm or tax deadline dates for financial professionals.

A few final words on timing:

-Before planning a big event Google the date to be sure it doesn’t conflict with something else in your area, especially if the same audience would be interested in both.
-When doing your marketing planning for the following year, get out a calendar & plan for each one not just by launch date, but also by adding follow up efforts so you can better plan for budgeting & project management.

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Copyright 2015 Affordable Marketing Solutions LLC

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