In marketing communications, as in comedy, timing is important. You can have the best offer in the world, but if the timing is wrong your chances of success will be seriously compromised.

Here are four lessons we’ve learned about timing.

1. Demand cycles are complex

Every prospect that you’re targeting will be affected by multiple cyclical factors depending on the individual, company, industry, geographical location, and the size and type of solution you’re offering. It’s obvious that the demand for ice cream and sunglasses goes up in the summer, but there are accounting periods, regulatory changes and established budget cycles to consider too. And some of them are counter-intuitivefor example, it has been shown that in a recession, when the sales of other products are tumbling, men buy more ties and women more lipstick1. Mapping out the various cycles should be part of your communications plan.

2. There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect time’

You can plan for demand cycles all you like, but when it comes to pressing the button to send out the campaign, there are always risks, uncertainties and compromises. Sending overnight may put your email in your target’s inbox ready for her train journey to workor it may put you in the firing line for a mass deletion. Sending in the daytime in Europe puts you in the early hours in the US. Sending on Monday may let you get a head start on the week… or you may catch recipients at their most unreceptive. And even if you account for all of these factors successfully, you can’t predict the unpredictable. Tuesday at 9am EST may be a great time to get American corporate customers to notice you. But it wouldn’t have been on September 11, 2001. All you can do is watch the data and be ready to change your plans when it makes sense to do so.

Tip: We really like MailChimp’s Timewarp feature. It works out a recipient’s timezone and staggers the sending of your campaign accordingly.

3. One-shot campaigns may miss

Many factors will contribute to the likelihood that your targets won’t see your message the first time. And even if they do, if the timing’s wrong they are likely to ignore it. Multi-drop campaigns can help solve both of these problems. It also helps to archive campaigns on your website, segmentation permitting. Try different media toothose that miss your email may spot your Tweet.

Tip: It’s not always convenient to send Tweets manually. We use Twuffer to schedule them in advance. Another great tool is Trunkly, it will automatically pick up all the links that you shareacross dozens of social networksand create an archive. Both are free and simple to use.

4. It’s easier to react when you’ve planned ahead

Events can sometimes throw you an enormous opportunity. But too few companies have tricks up their sleeve to jump on a competitor’s misstep or a sudden spike in demand. We can’t predict when the next big storm will strike, but we know that there will be one. A smart roofing company would have a campaign prepped and ready to go as soon as the sky clears.

So, is this a good time to ask if you’re looking for marketing services? If you are, why not give us a call.

Posted by John on 29 August 2011