When is the best time of the year for your business to advertise? If you are like most, you have a general idea of the seasonality for your business and typically have “that thing that you do every year around this or that time.” But are you strategically looking ahead on the calendar and really hammering home a plan on how to drive sales during those specific dates? April 15th, Tax Day, is an example of how dates affect consumer behavior. April 15th is just another day on the calendar. This year it’s a boring Monday. Regardless of the day of week on which it falls, Tax Day has an effect on the entire country and creates a variety of mental images.
I think of lines at the post office, hopefully a nice refund check and the deadline to enroll in Maryland’s Prepaid College Program, which is a great example of well-timed marketing. When state residents enroll in the Prepaid College Program, they get an instant deduction on their tax returns. The deadline to enroll is the same day tax returns are due. The Prepaid College Program times their marketing message to hit during the same period in which residents are preparing their tax returns, reminding consumers that a contribution saves them money if they act by April 15th. Brilliant on their part. Good marketers understand how to use dates like April 15th to capitalize on consumer behavior.
Specific dates on the calendar, events and annual holidays can drive consumer behavior, and good marketing is designed to take advantage of that behavior. This is why I advise my clients to capitalize on those dates, not fight them. When one of my clients recently suggested that we design a campaign to help spike sales in the “slow times,” I asked “Why swim upstream?” If people tend to have family over on certain holidays, how are we as marketers preparing advance for the inevitable behavior? Similarly, if a homeowner opens his/her pool for the season around the same time every year, the savvy pool company has a solid marketing plan for that time of year.
The “consumer behavior calendar” outlines the dates that consumers are conditioned to look for deals, expect discounts, and share this information with friends. These dates are outlined for you years in advance, so planning ahead is actually easy. There is no reason to guess the dates your marketing resources will have the most impact for your marketing message. If you knew which numbers on a roulette wheel the ball would land on, you would put all your money on those numbers, right? Well, the consumer behavior calendar gives you that information! So now you just need to focus on how to capitalize on it.
Consider this: You are a kitchen cabinet company trying to capitalize on the “having company over for the holidays” behavior. How would you market? Last year one local company provided a great example of planning and executing a marketing campaign targeting the right people at the right time. The ad hit mid-September and focused on the fact that if you are going to have company at your home for Thanksgiving and really want to have new kitchen cabinets (you know, the ones that you’ve been thinking about all year), now is the time to act. Think about it - it takes a few weeks to decide what you want, 6 weeks for your order to come in, and of course you want everything installed at least a few weeks before the holiday so your kitchen is back in place and looking great as guests arrive Thanksgiving Day. This company was smart enough to realize consumer behavior and effectively used advertising to explain why consumers could not wait to act if they wanted new cabinets by Thanksgiving.
In an ideal world, with unlimited marketing funds, you would be advertising all year long. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and expenses are limited for most companies.
In order to maximize the effect of your spending, you need a strategic burst of advertising focused around the dates that already provide your business with the best potential for increased sales activity. If a homeowner wants a new pool in the backyard, the first signs of summer are probably too late to start the conversation with the local pool company. The pool company is most likely looking to get a decision from their buyers in the winter, long before it’s warm. If digging can start as soon as the ground is ready, the homeowner will be swimming on Memorial Day rather than looking at a big hole in the back yard. A clever message might be: “If you want to be swimming in your back yard on Memorial Day, you need to be thinking about it on President’s Day!”
They say that the only certainty in life is death and taxes, but I want to add consumer behavior. Don’t fight it. Ride it for that spike to a more effective marketing campaign.
If you need help making your marketing campaigns more effective by developing more creative ideas, download our Brainstorming Guide below. You will receive an easy step-by-step outline on how to run an effective brainstorming session, which will help you take better advantage of the consumer behavior calendar.