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Association Marketing  

Trend Spotting: 10 Tips for Real-Time vs. Right-Time Marketing

by Jacquelyn Wells

As association marketers, we are often guilty of focusing so myopically on our own industry, profession and/or offerings and forget there’s a whole world spinning around us. As an account strategist, I find it very important to thoughtfully incorporate current events, trends and news into client communications.

Here are my Top 10 “Right-Time” Marketing Tips to make meaningful, relevant connections with event prospects:

1. Pick Up on Pop Culture

Right-time marketing means you’re doing more listening than communicating. I often look to social media to see what’s trending—whether it’s unicorns, Wordle or the latest bingeworthy show.

Digital Signage Expo did an excellent job leveraging the popular mannequin challenge in 2017 by using it to illustrate the difference between static signage and digital signage. The International Baking Industry Exposition also capitalized on the “everything is cake” trend with a hyper-realistic category in its baking competition.

2. Check Your Calendar

Did you know December 19 is Ugly Sweater Day and December 30 is National Bacon Day? Just like there’s an association for everything, there’s also a holiday for everything.

Your calendar is a useful tool to leverage right-time content for your marketing. For example, you could tie in a two-for-one membership flash sale on National Friendship Day or post gushy testimonial quotes on social media on Valentine’s Day.

3. Make It MEME-orable

Memes are also a great way to tap into current events and pop culture. Memes typically consist of a trending image with minimal text that’s easy to consume and makes your audience feel like they’re “in” on something. Most successful memes have an element of humor, too, which people are eager to share with their connections online. There are a variety of meme generators available that make memes easy to create and distribute.

4. Hijack a Hashtag

Trending hashtags can also present an easy way to piggyback on trending news or topics and help expand the reach of your content. Examples include national holidays, competitor hashtags or the latest viral trend.

Hashtags can also be used to evoke sarcasm and humor (#goals). Just keep in mind that we’re typically targeting a B2B audience, so hashtag hijacking can likely open up your content to a consumer audience.

5. Capitalize on Current Events

What is your audience talking about? It doesn’t have to directly relate to your industry—it could be the solar eclipse, the Oscars, March Madness or the Super Bowl.

For example, in 2016 the International Baking Industry Exposition was held during the year of the Olympics, so we created teaser videos that showed bakers “training” for the upcoming event and equated it to the Olympics of baking. For SuperZoo, the event for pet retailers, we created a save-the-date campaign that incorporated promotional tools for Small Business Saturday.

6. Don’t Overdo It and Don’t Force It

While it is great to capitalize on some holidays, don’t jump on every holiday and every trend. Include a good mix of content and angles in your campaign’s story arc and make sure your community understands and can identify with the particular reference. We can’t all be Oreo, with its doomsday vault and now infamous “dunk in the dark” tweet during the Super Bowl blackout of 2013, but there are opportunities where it makes sense to insert your event into current events.

7. Don’t Step on a Landmine

Politics, tragedies, human suffering—just don’t go there unless the approach is more philanthropic or sympathetic. If your audience feels that your tie-in to the event is for self-promotion or self-gain, it could do more harm than good to your brand.

8. Use the Appropriate Platform for Delivery

Consider the best method for delivering the message. How quickly do you need to respond? We can typically plan in advance for national holidays, but current events or trends usually require a quick response. As such, social media is typically a more appropriate forum.

The tone should also be considered: Traditional channels might warrant a more formal tone, while social media lends itself to casual, more humorous communications.

9. Leverage Your Data

Right-time marketing also means leveraging data to send messages based on your audience’s behavior or demographics. For example, you may use a different tone or approach with younger audiences.

Registration abandonment is also good example. We can utilize data to send messaging to revisit registration right before an early-bird deadline, to create FOMO and/or nudge people who are sitting on the fence.

10. Make Sure It Aligns with Your Strategy

Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals. An audience of older, C-level attendees probably won’t resonate with a Valentine’s Day promotion and they may not be watching Squid Games. Before you start jumping on the latest trend, make sure right-time tactics align with your overall strategy and personas.

Now is always the “right time” to make your campaign more meaningful and relevant.

Contact us to learn how today.