The Importance Of Time In Marketing

Your message doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get delivered in time.  I feel like that goes without saying, yet messages keep coming too late.  The holiday season brings the issue to the forefront.  The reason the newspaper is huge on the day before Thanksgiving is to include the many ads for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales.  Plus, web postings of many of these ad circulars occur days before that.  The reason is to give shoppers plenty of time to see, digest, and act on the advertised specials.  So, why doesn’t radio get this principle?

I was in the car on Black Friday for a quick trip to the mall and heard multiple errors with time-specific ads airing on the radio.  My drive each way was about 15 minutes and it just so happened that I caught one entire commercial break on one radio station each time.  Both times, I heard ads for Black Friday sales starting at 5am.  How effective is that message for those hearing it nearly 12 hours after the fact; in this case at 3:50pm and 5:20pm?  I even heard one ad for a sale starting at 8pm Thursday.  What poor management of advertising!  The clients are wasting money on these ads.  I’d offer to refrain from blogging until you tell me I’m wrong or try to justify it, but I’d like to post again in a couple days.

Another holiday example of poorly timed messages will be on display at Christmas and shortly after.  Last season, one station I listen to frequently (I listen to many in various formats and markets) was playing commercials with a Christmas jingle through the 2nd week of January.  Yes, you want ads to stand out.  Ads should remembered for their effectiveness, not because of the ‘what the hell are we listening to’ gotcha factor.

image created by Shane Goad, adapting an image found at http://flip-clock.net/images/flip4.gif

My point is messages delivered outside of a meaningful timeframe are bound to fail.  Retail sale messages, news and information, a simple text to a loved one saying when you’ll be home.  None of these work when delivered too close to, or after, a time-specific event.  Seems like common sense, but the ongoing use of outdated messages proves otherwise.

Keep this in mind: good marketing or messaging will typically work, but bad marketing or messaging doesn’t have a chance.  Let’s work harder to make sure future campaigns fall into that first group.

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