It's About Time

The right marketing target date could give your product the attention it deserves.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the August 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Sometimes a company markets the right product or service to the right people using the right media, but the marketing effort turns out to be a flop. Why? Poor timing. To get the most mileage from your marketing efforts, you have to be keenly attuned to the right and wrong times. To gain a bit of insight, consider these 10 examples:

1. You've created the perfect mailing package, but it arrives too early in the week, when your prospects are thinking of the busy week ahead--or too late, when your prospects are thinking of the upcoming weekend. See to it that your mailing arrives on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

2. You have a fine product but a limited budget and a lot of competition. What to do? Do your marketing when your competitors have eased up. This way, you gain the largest share of your customer's mind with the smallest marketing investment. That may mean marketing during your target company's slow months, but it's also when you can attract the most attention the fastest.

3. Everybody receives Christmas catalogs in September and October. If you sent yours in July or August, you'd get people thinking of your company then--and later on as well.

4. You keep abreast of current events by watching the tube, reading the paper, accessing online news services, perusing news weeklies, and subscribing to industry and community publications. Put that information to work by tying your marketing message in with what's happening at that moment in history.

5. Be careful not to launch your marketing efforts too soon. One of the most common errors in marketing is to promote before all the bugs have been worked out, before the salespeople know all the facts, and before you're ready to fill the flood of orders and engage in guerrilla follow-up. Remember that patience is a guerrilla virtue.

6. One marketing move that will get you nowhere is a newspaper story or TV report about products or services that aren't yet available. You may be so enthralled at the thought of free publicity that you release the news before people can buy what you offer. Beware: They won't come back another time, and the media won't give you another splash. Restraint is necessary, even with free news coverage.

7. Savvy retailers wait at least one month before having grand openings. If they don't wait, customers will arrive only to find untrained salespeople, poorly stocked shelves, slow delivery times and messy surroundings. Polish these items to perfection before your grand opening, or it won't be so grand.

8. Telemarketing calls that don't get through or that reach answering devices are a waste of time and money. Find out when your prospects are most likely to be available, and do your telemarketing then.

9. Use speed in dealing with customer requests, orders, questions and complaints. People value their time more than ever. Never waste one minute of it, or they may not be back.

10. Never be in a rush to create your marketing materials. Keep in mind that when developing them, you are faced with three variables--speed, quality and economy. You may select any two but not all three. Guerrillas opt for quality and economy every time.

Timing also refers to tying in with current news, with what's on your prospects' minds, and with what your competitors are doing. Guerrilla timing can make the difference between a campaign that fizzles or flourishes.

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