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Timing is everything

Just think about it. We have to be on our toes, take advantage of situations as they arise. However, sometimes things just happen, and we realize, “wow” that was good timing. For example all of my adult life, more than 25 years, I got up each morning M-F and drove to an office to work. Now, this winter, one of the worst that we have had in 25 years, I just have to make it to my home office in the basement. Wow – what good timing.

But other times, most of the time, marketers need to pay attention to their surroundings, their brand and most of all what is happening in the lives of their target audiences.

As written in Advertising Age recently “Marketers Make the Most of Falling Mercury.” This shouldn’t surprise us; we know that when it snows and gets really cold, we tend stock up on comfort food, snow shovels and apparently “Snuggies.” But some marketers are on their toes and they take advantage of the current situation and find ways to communicate their product benefits to their target audiences.

Many years ago, when I was involved in marketing the first cellular telephones in Nebraska, (I know, I know, a long time ago) bad weather was an important part of our marketing strategy. We took advantage of bad weather to drive home our messages that a cell phone would be pretty handy in a storm. We had media buys in place, ready to activate with local stations when the situation presented itself. The safety benefit of a cell phone was best demonstrated to someone when they could imagine how much better their life would be right now if only they had a cell phone.

In the Ad Age article Scott Bernhardt, of Planatytics said “Marketing into a situation that’s favorable for your product (causes) the numbers to go off the chart.” Well, I don’t know about off the chart. But I did like the Campbell’s Soup strategy. “The brand team at Campbell’s conducts weekly meetings with media buyers to review a 20 city “misery index.” When an area becomes miserable, it gets a positive ranking on the index.” When an area becomes 5% miserable, Campbell’s will run radio spots in that market. Hmmm they needed a fancy algorithm to figure this out. I would just call someone in the market and ask “How is your weather”?

This is nothing new. It’s taking advantage of the situation. Marketers need to understand what trips the trigger of their target audiences. What product benefits are enhanced under certain situations? This is all part of understanding your product, its benefits and knowing your target audience.

The article goes on to explain that while many marketers ramped up their advertising to take advantage of the recent cold snap, the folks at Snuggie went completely dark. It seems that the cold weather caused a run on the product at retail that resulted in an “extreme shortage” for the blanket-with-arms. They stopped all marketing. Hmmm. Do you think their competitors stopped advertising? I don’t think so. Now, Snuggie may not have had a choice. Certainly I do not think a brand should spend money, when they have no ability to sell the product. But the situation provided an opportunity for the many competitors with similar blanket products.

Last Christmas when my Father-in-law announced he wanted a Snuggie, they could not be found in any stores in Lincoln, and ordering one online had a 3 month wait for delivery. I went to the fabric store and figured out how to make one. I saw an opportunity and Snuggie lost a sale.

Keep on your toes, keep in touch with your target audience and be ready to take advantage of situations as they arise. Timing is everything. If you wait too long, the snow melts and it no longer matters.


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