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  • Writer's pictureJohn Casmon

The Right Message at the Right Time (Updated for 2020 and COVID-19)

Updated: May 24, 2020

When my oldest son turned 3 years old, I posted a celebratory picture and caption to my Instagram and Twitter accounts. Amongst the congratulations and happy birthday wishes was a tweet from Chuck E. Cheese, "Happy Birthday, Jai! Sounds like it's time to celebrate!"

I was at dinner with the birthday boy when I saw the message and promptly shared it with him. Guess who wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate?

As a marketer, serving up the right message at the right time to the right audience is critical for success. Most focus on crafting the message but place less attention to delivering it at the right time or drilling it down to the right audience. This is true for large corporations as well as entrepreneurs and real estate professionals.

With COVID-19 currently dominating the headlines, it's become increasingly tougher to break through the noise. Most of us have been bombarded with emails, ads, and posts from companies that want us to know that they "care about us during these uncertain times," when they haven't demonstrated an ounce of care in years.

So how do you avoid being ignored or even worse pandering to your audience during times like these?

The Right Message at The Right Time

It starts with gaining clarity on what value you provide so you can communicate that message to the right audience, at the right time. It's easy to see that the Chuck E. Cheese message is a part of a sound social strategy to engage with parents when they are most likely to plan a celebration for their little one.

The right message: Happy about a party?

The right time: Within hours of a happy birthday post (especially early in the week)

The right audience: Parents of young children

Of all the COVID-19 messages I've seen, one ad stood out to me from Farmers Insurance. They have a long-running ad campaign highlighting all of the crazy claims that they have processed over the years (especially animal attacks). The ads end with the tagline, "We know a thing or two, because we've seen a thing or two." In their latest ad, they state that in 90 years, they thought they had seen it all but they hadn't seen "this." The ad goes on to state that they are reducing auto premiums, along with making other offers. But it ends with, "and then we will do the next thing and the thing after that, until this is another thing that we've seen and done."

The right message: We haven't seen "this," so we're offering discounts... until "this" is just another thing.

The right time: Early during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

The right audience: People concerned about their insurance expenses

While other brands are underscoring the uncertainty of the current environment, Farmers states that they will do whatever it takes until "this" is just something else they've seen. This ad isn't about insurance, it's reminding people that Farmers is there to support whatever crazy thing happens to you, whether it's a tornado, a goat attack or COVID-19.

How to Be an Effective Marketer

How does this apply to you? Well, for starters if you have something you want to drive awareness around, you are a marketer. Marketing is simply driving awareness for the products and services you offer. So if you want people to know about a listing, investment opportunity, fundraiser, course, meetup, or podcast, your actions to drive awareness are marketing activities.

To be an effective marketer, you need to understand your audience and identify the moment of truth as they consider their options. At this moment, how can you stand out, serve your audience, and position yourself as the best solution? Focus your efforts on engaging and winning at that moment and convey your strengths with the right message.

For real estate investors looking to buy an off-market apartment building, you would start with the audience. Many assume this is the owner, but it could very well be lenders, brokers, CPAs, local government, estate attorneys, and/or property managers. You can go directly to owners, but it may be tough to identify the right time and the sensitive circumstances driving the "right time" may cause owners to put up a wall. Going through a 3rd party to identify target owners may facilitate a more amicable interaction.

Once you identify the right audience, move on to identifying the right time. For acquiring apartments, the right time might be at the beginning of a new year or around tax time. This is when owners have had a chance to dive deep into the financial operations for the previous year and lay their plans for the year ahead. The end of the year is another good time as some may want to sell a property for tax purposes. Ask yourself, when will the audience be most receptive to my message?

Next, identify the right message. This will need to be concise and tailored to the audience and occasion. While wit and creativity help to grab attention, the message needs to quickly convey how you can help, why now is the right time, and why they should trust you. Remember that there is a balance of empathy and pandering here. There is no cordial way of a stranger saying, "Sorry your dad died...are you looking to sell that apartment building he owned?" Not the right time or the right message.

So let's suppose an investor identifies CPAs as his audience and wants to reach them immediately following tax season to see if they have owners who may want to sell.

The right message: Tax day has passed ... can we help any of your clients?

The right time: Just after the tax deadline

The right audience: Real Estate CPAs

How to Reinforce Your Message

The last element is to highlight why you are the ideal solution and not your competition. Real estate investors reaching out to CPAs may highlight that they've closed quickly on similar properties and can be flexible on terms. Chuck E. Cheese long established itself as the place where a kid can be a kid. Farmers Insurance demonstrated that they have covered all sorts of crazy claims for 90 years.

It's important to establish credibility when positioning your products or services as the right solution. You may not have a long track record, but you must have some wins that you can highlight if you want to be credible. Testimonials and case studies go a long way to reinforce your message. Ultimately, it's not about you, it's about your audience and how you can help them. Parents just want their kids to have fun on their birthday, insurance customers want peace of mind that their claims will be paid, and CPAs want to help their clients make smart financial decisions.

Delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time is a key component to convert more leads. Make sure you demonstrate your credibility as well, so they know you are the right solution to help them. Keep this in mind the next time you're doing any marketing outreach to help you break through the clutter and drive results.

If you want more marketing tips and info, check out our Multifamily + Marketing podcast, Target Market Insights. You can also click the #marketing hashtag at the bottom of the page.


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