What Time is It? Scheduling Your Marketing Efforts

There’s a right and a wrong time to advertise.  Do you know when those are for you?

Previously, I wrote about “Mapping your Marketing Plan“, and mentioned that focusing your efforts in just a few areas is usually better than taking the “spaghetti approach” (i.e., “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”)1Just a note:  If your spaghetti sticks to the wall, it’s over-cooked and soggy..  In that case, I was referring to advertising outlets.  The same, however, is true about timing.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Time of Year

The first thing to understand is that nobody in the US spends disposable income in January2These are all sweeping generalizations based on over-all trends.  They’ve done all their big spending in December.  January is when people hunker down and think about credit card debt, taxes, and budgets for the coming year.

If you’re selling toys or fashion accessories, save your money and don’t advertise.  If you’re offering financial services, however, this is the time to ramp up your presence.


You know if your business is seasonal, and you know when that season is.  Do you, however, know the “looking lead time”?  You know when people are buying, but how long before that do they start looking?  Use the analytics from your site, along with tools like Google Trends to find out when people are searching for your products.  Start ramping up your advertising just before then.


Everyone knows about “June weddings”–but did you know that September is more popular, and October is only a touch behind?  Serious wedding planning starts about 6 months before the big date, so March and April may be the right time to advertise.  School starts around the first of September–but everyone waits until the last minute to buy school supplies, so August is the month to push.

Time of Month

In the US, it’s common to get paid either bi-weekly, or semi-monthly.  Either way, you’re getting two paychecks per month.  The first one goes mostly to pay the bills (rent or mortgage being the big ones), and stocking up on necessities.  The second one is where people see how much they have left to spend on “fun” things.   If you’re selling fun things, slow down during the start of the month, and pick up at the end.  If you’re offering financial services, the opposite might be the best approach.

Day of the Week

As was pointed out to me once: Nobody buys a boat on a Monday.   Luxury and “fun” purchases are made on the weekends–but people start looking for them a couple days before.   Necessities are purchased early in the week (after the bills are paid).  Why pay for advertising on Monday when nobody’s looking for you?   Again, use your analytics to find out when people are coming to your site, and tweak your advertising accordingly.

Time of Day

Radio advertisers are going to push you to buy ads during morning drive time–but depending on your market, the middle of the day might be more appropriate (and much less expensive).  Older people watch the early evening news, young people stay up late, families with young children relax in front of the TV after the kids have gone to bed.  Learn to understand the daily habits of your market, and you can really focus your advertising dollars.

There are also a multitude of cultural factors that enter into your decisions.  These include major holidays, religious observances, major events, and a host of cultural norms.

A good advertising agent (or sales rep) will work with you to find the best times for your advertising to run.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Just a note:  If your spaghetti sticks to the wall, it’s over-cooked and soggy.
2. These are all sweeping generalizations based on over-all trends

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