Timing is ...everything

John Cleese once said that comedian Ronnie Corbett - one half of The Two Ronnies - had 'the best timing' he had ever seen. Timing is everything in comedy, and it's pretty important in marketing too.

Timing is all about catching people just at that point when they need - or want - what you're selling, whether it's umbrellas when it's raining, or a chocolate bar or a cup of coffee just after you've filled the car up at the service station.

Sometimes it turns out that people are often not even aware of exactly why they're buying something (and this isn't necessarily down to subliminal advertising or any other form of subtle persuasion).

I went along to a talk given by Matt Dunstan recently on Human Centred Design and one fascinating study that featured in his talk was of a company trying to work out what might get people to buy more of their milkshakes.

The research showed that it was nothing to do with the variety of milkshakes on offer or even anything to do with the taste. It had more to do with who was buying the milkshake, and when - it was mainly people driving to work wanting something satisfying and filling to drink in the car.

And so getting people to buy more milkshakes was going to be more about timing - tapping into this early morning market - rather than changing anything to do with the product.

There are plenty of other examples where timing is important in marketing. Retailers are busy treading that well-worn path between Halloween and the run up to Christmas, and now that the Melbourne Cup has finished for another year, restaurants and hotels are now busy urging businesses to book their Christmas functions now, before it's too late.

If you are gunning for some publicity for your business, timing is also important. If you can link what you do or what you sell to some recent hot topic in the news, this can make it easier to get attention (although you do have to be quick).

There is also a tendency from around mid-November to start putting off any media activity until the New Year. Here's why you shouldn't...

Firstly, if your product or service can be given as a gift (even a quirky gift - think of the charity that allows you to buy a goat for someone), pre-Christmas is a good time to tell people about it.

Secondly, all media - print, radio, TV, online - keeps going through the holidays, and this is often a great time to pitch journalists with your story, as there is a bit of lull while all the politicians and bosses of big businesses are away. Plus the holiday period is when normally time-poor people get a bit more time to have a leisurely read of the paper or a magazine... one that might be featuring you or your business - if you got in contact with them!

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ronnie-corbett.JPG