Did you ever remember to send someone a birthday card — the day AFTER their birthday? Chances are you shrugged your shoulders and thought “too late now.” Perhaps you made a resolution to add their birthday to your Google calendar so you wouldn't forget next time. Then you might've posted birthday wishes on their Facebook timeline along with all their other “friends.” After all, it was probably Facebook that reminded you of their birthday in the first place.
This is a perfect example of how poor timing can dilute the sentiment of your message. Had you remembered to send that birthday card on time, you would have entrenched yourself in the halls of best friends and endearment. Instead, you got “liked” on Facebook.
Timing is Crucial
Have you ever received a Christmas Card in January? How did that make you feel? Just as timing is crucial in social messaging, so too is it equally important in marketing messaging. For instance, it's a common practice for many car dealerships to try to sell you a car — after you bought a car from them. While it's understandable that they did not have a business relationship with you prior to your purchase with them, most car buyers would probably want to wait a while before they make another such purchase. A better marketing message might be reminders about regularly scheduled maintenance, with offers and incentives. This would not only generate business for the dealership, but also nourish the relationship with the car buyer, thereby increasing their propensity to buy from the dealership in the future.
A real word example:
I received a nice postcard from the email marketing company Robly this week offering to save me 50% on my bill with Constant Contact. Normally this would be a forgettable marketing message, but what was truly remarkable about this direct mail piece was the uncanny timing. Let me explain why: The Constant Contact Partner Program, of which we are a member, evaluates their partner accounts every six months. Depending upon how many new Constant Contact accounts have been created through our partner program, we are assigned a “tier.” Based on upon that tier, we're awarded a discount. The rub is, if we haven't maintained our performance (signed up new accounts), our monthly fees would've increased significantly this month.
It is highly unlikely that Robly's timing was a coincidence. Not only did they know that we were a Constant Contact customer, but they also knew that it was likely that we would be hit with a fee increase this time of year. Then they capitalized on the frustration we might be feeling with the clever messaging: “I love you Constant Contact, but I'm leaving you for Robly!” Brilliant.
Setting Yourself Apart
What I find particularly impressive about what Robly did was the way they found a pin-point niche that was directly relevant to their offering. For instance, every marketer in the world targets Christmas, Black Friday, Father's Day & Mother's Day — it's a given. So every year around the holidays, consumers know that their inboxes and mail boxes will be inundated with offers from every company under the sun somehow tying their business into the holiday. This over-stimulation dilutes the impact of the messaging. So unless the message is spot on and the offer is stellar, it will likely be ignored.
Robly, on the other hand, defined a timing opportunity and a potential need that was unique to their industry and was unaffiliated with any other major marketing event. The result is that that they were one voice in an empty room, and their message came through loud and clear. A specific message for a specific need at the right time is a great way to set yourself apart and get your message heard.
Do It in Print
Around the same time the Robly postcard came through, I received a similarly well-timed offer from Shopify. If your a Magento Go customer, you may have received an email notification from them notifying you that they will be shutting down Magento Go in the beginning of 2015. Magento's competitor took advantage of this opportunity by quickly following up with Magento's customers and offering to move their stores to Shopify. The messaging was relevant, the timing was good, and the offer was decent — but it still seemed to lack the impact and sincerity of Robly's offer.
Where Robly's message was printed on a beautifully designed over-sized postcard addressed to me, Shopify's message was sent in a text-only email. While Robly's offer is still sitting on my desk and I've looked at it almost every day, Shopify's offer is obscured in a sea of emails from days ago that I'll probably never look at again. Also, print is expensive and email is cheap. Therefor Robly's willingness to invest in expensive design, printing and mailing makes me feel like they value me as a potential client. This is why print is still one of the most impactful ways to reach your prospects.
Don't Forget the Incentive
All of your planning and great timing will be a wasted effort if your offer doesn't resonate with your recipients. Both Robly and Shopify included great incentives and clear calls to action in their marketing message, and you should, too. This is where most marketing falls short. A tepid offer gets tepid results, and if you offer nothing, you'll likely get nothing. Also, if you have a strong unique selling proposition, a well-timed message is a perfect opportunity to tell your prospects about it.
That's all I have for now! I hope you enjoyed reading about how timing can increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If you have any thoughts or questions about today's topic, or if you want to hear more about how good timing can help you get your message heard, feel free to drop me a message in the comments box below or on our Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Contact Page.