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Getting the timing of your marketing right

By March 25, 2024No Comments

Marketing is all about saying the right thing to the right people at the right time. This article will concentrate of the last piece of that statement – the right time. When is the right time?
This, of course, depends. It depends on two key things:

  1. When your product/service is going to be used
  2. When the buyer starts to think about the issue you help them with.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail…

When your product will be used

At the simplest end of this scale are highly seasonal products: Easter eggs, Christmas decorations, gifts that are aimed at any of the parent’s days. The purchase must be made directly from the manufacturer/ecommerce retailer in time for it to be delivered. If a store-based retail purchase, it can even be the same day.

In this scenario there is wholesale and consumer marketing times to consider, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on direct to user marketing.

For these products, there are firm start and end points for the marketing. Whilst this makes the timing easier, the competitive nature of the markets means your marketing needs to really stand out.

At the other end of the scale will be high value services that are used all year round and can be bought at any time of the year. Marketing is going to have to be done all year round, with other factors having more of an impact on your marketing timing.

When people start thinking about the issue

When buying something, people don’t think about the product, they think about the issue, the activity or the holiday. Business owners that buy accountancy or IT support services don’t initially think about IT support or accountancy, they look at productivity, lost time or think about why their tax bill was so high last year. Consumers of seasonal products look back at last time thinking “did we have a good Christmas?” – or equivalent.

Next their minds go to “how can this be better?”
• Should they buy something different, or a better version of what they bought?
• What else is needed?
• What does a good result look like?
• Should I have bought earlier, or later?

Whilst the first three questions here relate more to your marketing messages, the last one is absolutely relevant to the timing of your marketing.

Let’s start with the same two scenarios initially…

Seasonal timing

If we go to extremes, you will see many of the supermarkets selling Christmas products in August. People have usually booked (maybe even gone on) their summer holidays by this point, so the next big expenditure is Christmas. Because some people will want to spread the cost of the festivities over a period of time, it makes sense to start so early.

For you, it may be different. Consider these questions:

1. When did you starting marketing your seasonal products last year?
If you had a good year last year, it may make sense to simply start at that point again.

2. Were sales quick or slow when you started?
Slow sales are likely to indicate that you started your marketing too early. You were marketing before people had really started thinking about it. If sales were really quick, you may want to start a little earlier.

3. When did your competition start their marketing campaigns?
Keeping an eye on your competitions’ marketing is always a good idea, but don’t immediately think that you need to match them. They may be going too early and you definitely don’t want to rush the design of a campaign just to get it out there.

4. What is the best day?
Particularly for consumer marketing, knowing what days, and times, to start marketing campaigns is important. We’ve just analysed the email marketing for an ecommerce client and it clearly showed:
• Fridays are a really bad day to send email campaigns for them, with Monday & Thursday being far better.
• Weekend mornings perform so much better than afternoons

Just make sure you’ve been sending throughout the week before you do the analysis!

5. When did your seasonal products start selling last year?
If your products started selling before you were actively marketing them, people were definitely looking for what you sell before you realised it. If you’ve got an ecommerce site, your records will show when you started selling products, so you can alter your marketing schedule accordingly.

Timing for your marketing for year-round products/services

If there really is no seasonality for your products/services, you will need to be marketing throughout the year. Frequency of activity is important, as you need to tread that fine line between too much marketing and not enough.
Your marketing has three goals:
1. Get them into the top of your pipeline
2. Nurture them so they move through that phase
3. Get them to become a sales opportunity.

Top of pipeline timing

This activity has to take place throughout the year with your principal timing issue being about how frequently you are marketing.

A constant light touch

Spread your activity out when using multiple marketing channels. You don’t want your target audience to see you everywhere for a few days and then see nothing for weeks. Far better that they see a message a day over 10 days (for example) than 10 messages in a day and nothing for two weeks.

Moving them through your funnel

Decision makers will need to be confident that you can deliver what they need. Content that demonstrates the knowledge and expertise within your business should be shared with your target audience regularly.

Permutate the knowledge demonstration campaigns with more salesy campaigns that challenge their thinking and get them to think about their current provider. These should generate some inbound enquiries, converting them to sales opportunities.

Converting to a sales opportunity

Many small businesses simply rely on the funnel to call them when they are ready. Whilst you know at this point they are ready to talk, you are leaving things to chance. Keeping an eye on how your pipeline is engaging with you, and then following up, can generate sales leads more proactively, assuming you have the tools to show you who is engaged.
• Email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp, will tell you who is opening and clicking on your campaigns.
• CANDDi can give you a real insight into who is looking at your website, what they are looking at and how they got there.
• Integrating both of these with your CRM puts all the information needed in front of your sales team (whether that is you or others in your business).

Regular reviews of the information in your CRM can give you a list of people to follow up with. That can be through personal emails, but far better if you pick up the phone and call them.

 

Can you get helpful information?

As people enter your funnel, can you get information from them that will help you? Renewal/replacement dates would be really useful to you, as would notice periods. Perhaps a short survey can get the information you are looking for, if you’re not yet talking to them.

What to do when you have a date

If you can get a date, work backwards from there based on your experience.
• If you have a renewal date, how much notice do they normally need to give?
• From the notice date, how long do people, on average, take to review a proposal and make up their mind?
• How long does it take to complete your sales process?
• Add on some time for the length of the campaign you’re planning.

This is likely to add up to a good few months, so don’t expect the sales to start quickly.

Some marketing options when you have dates

1. Automated email campaigns based on date information
2. Set tasks in your CRM to get you to pick up the phone
3. Direct mail campaigns can be highly effective, as people will keep good quality marketing collateral

This has hopefully explained the importance of timing within your marketing, and given you some ideas on what you can do to improve your marketing. If you would like to talk, or you have some questions about this, please get in touch.
• smegrowth@smeneeds.co.uk
• 020 8634 5911
• Click here to book time into my diary

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