Sometimes good marketing goes unnoticed. Other times, well-intentioned marketing becomes classified as a misstep because a brand is sharing the right information at the wrong time and/or with the wrong audience. As Connecticut and its East Coast neighbors saw this past weekend, all it takes is a little snow – 3 feet to be exact – to make the latter a reality.
During the storm, I consumed Target’s new spring television spots, a LIVE with Kelly & Michael segment on spring fashion trends and, my personal favorite, an untimely marketing phone call from a local retailer. I willingly admit that Target and LIVE have an audience broader than the East Coast and they can’t control Mother Nature. The local retailer’s telephone marketing, however, warrants further examination. Here is the sales pitch they called with:
Hello, I’m calling from (local retailer) to let you know about some promotions we have running. We’re extending our extra 30% off sale merchandise promotion because of the storm.
Okay, the first part is fairly innocent. Fortunately…or unfortunately…it got better.
So, if you’re going stir crazy and need a change of scenery you can always drive over here and do some shopping.
As many Connecticut residents will attest, the road conditions following Blizzard Charlotte were far from ideal. Many side roads remained unplowed three days after the storm. The Governor went so far as to ask drivers to stay off the roads, even after lifting the travel ban. Yet, my local retailer felt this was a golden opportunity to grab shoppers’ attention and drive foot traffic for their newly extended sale. I beg to differ.
So, what can we learn from this retailer’s untimely attempt to drive sales?
Know the climate
The days immediately following a blizzard aren’t a good time to sell wear-now spring apparel and they sure aren’t a good time to ask people to drive somewhere.
Understand your audience’s priorities
Just as residents without power want to know the latest restoration estimates, those who are snowed-in want to know when the plow will come through. Not what they could be doing if their road had been plowed and their car wasn’t buried under a snowdrift.
The 72-hours following Blizzard Charlotte was a great time to sell shovels, snowblowers, snowmelt, and the like. It was also a great time to share winter safety tips. Not the time to drive foot traffic to an irrelevant 30% off sale.
While I am all for ‘self-made marketing opportunities’, the importance of timely, relevant, and compelling messaging that drives appropriate action cannot be understated. Now, who in Connecticut wants to put on their flip-flops and walk to the ice cream stand right now?