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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

‘Tis the season – but does your marketing show it?

Written By: Charlie Gilkey | No Comments

Let’s imagine that you had a pie shop. Given that we’re closely approaching the holiday season, it would be wise to focus on marketing and making the types of pies that people are thinking about right now. If your prospects are thinking about apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato pies, the easiest way to reach them is to talk about… apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato pies.

As the old marketing adage goes, it’s best to join the conversation that’s already going on in their head rather than trying to start a new one. The more you focus on where they are, the less you have to pull them to you.

Here’s the problem, though: all too often, we figure out where our markets are too late in the game. By the time we adjust our message to match the market, we’re scrambling to deliver on whatever we’re marketing. We don’t have enough of the metaphorical nutmeg and cinnamon that we need in order to make the pies of the season.

If you want your business to get ahead, you must be ahead of your market. If you’re only tracking where your market is right now, by the time you respond, you’ll be delivering on where they were in the past. Remember, your business is about your customers and where they are, not about where you are.

“Yeah, but I have evergreen offers,” you might be thinking. “All of this time-based marketing is for the suckers who make seasonal or faddish offers.” If you thought that, listen up; if your marketing messages are “evergreen,” you’ve given prospects the message that they can wait until tomorrow to buy. In the sales battle between now and tomorrow, tomorrow always loses.

Here’s what you do to make sure that your marketing matches the season:

1. Review your current offerings to see which will be the most relevant six weeks from now.

Yes, we’re focusing on six weeks from now – if you’re just now thinking about this, you’re probably already too late. Better to focus and have the relevant marketing message and the right offer at the right time, rather than trying to squeeze a margarita out of a rock (squeeze all you’d like; you’re not going to get the margarita – though you might get a little salt).

2. Think about where your market will be six weeks from now.

How can you frame your marketing and the offer to match the conversation that will be going on in their heads? What will they be watching? What will they be hearing? What are they going to be struggling with at that point?

Obviously, the more you know your customer, the easier this is going to be. One of the key strategies for any entrepreneur or small business is to get as much of the psycho-graphical information about your markets as possible. That way, you have a good pulse on what the current demand is – and you’ll be able to do some market projection and anticipate where they’ll need to go.

3. Start working your marketing message, plan, and activities now for where they will be then.

Again, we’re going to reverse the trend of starting the marketing for what people need right now, today and will be more thoughtful about how we go forward in the future. We’re going to begin working on that offer that’s coming up six weeks from now today.

What’s your message? What’s the plan? How are you going to get your word out to your right people? Are there ways that you can start teasing it and pre-announcing it and getting people ready to buy it for when it is?

Let’s take a cue from Apple and Amazon here. They’re brilliant at pre-buzzing and hinting about what they’re going to be offering well ahead of when we can actually buy it. By the time that next iThing comes out, we’ve already decided that we’re going to buy it – and, most of the time, we’ll justify why we’re going to buy it after the fact. Whatever it is, it goes live and sells out, which only fuels its perceived value and our commitment to buy it.

Compare that type of foresight, marketing, and execution to other businesses – yours included. Having more demand than your supply is a much better problem to have than having more supply than demand. 

It’s too easy for us to inadvertently focus our efforts on building yesterday’s business today – we’re going to reverse this trend by building tomorrow’s business today. 

How are your current marketing messages aligned with where your market is? What can you do to change your marketing or offerings to better resonate with where your people are? Where will your people be six weeks from now and how might you change your marketing message to reflect that?

Article written by Charlie Gilkey
Charlie Gilkey is the go-to guy for creative changemakers and entrepreneurs for figuring out how to get the right things done. His blog, Productive Flourishing, is one of the top productivity and entrepreneurship blogs on the web and his work is routinely cited, showcased, and shared in places like Inc.com, BNET, Project Domino, Lifehacker, Copyblogger, Problogger, Zenhabits, and others. Charlie’s forthcoming book, Beyond Bootstrapping, helps entrepreneurs and small business owners become better executives and build better businesses from the business they’ve already built.