Undoubtedly, some of our best marketing opportunities occur when change happens. This can be personal change (birth, marriage, career/retirement or death), natural events and disasters, or social/political disruptions. In these circumstances old rules and habits go out the window and we need to find new services, suppliers, and relationships.
On the personal level, the changes often connect with traditions, meaning that marketers can effectively demographically plan and expect certain things to happen. New home builders, for example, can safely predict that young couples with their first child will often look for their first home — and will want it in a new neighbourhood. (I remember well moving to our home in a new subdivision. Our son had two “peers” born within months and we — the three neighbours — celebrated “first birthday” parties together.)
Natural disasters obviously also create construction marketing opportunities, though it isn’t considered cool to exploit others’ pain. Still disaster recovery businesses have a predictable model they can follow to discover business ethically, even as others “dis” storm chasers.
Political change can be thorny, of course. We’ve seen plenty of stories about “pay to play” and fund-raising behaviour that stretches the line and gets awfully close to bribery. There’s also an intriguing risk/reward challenge here. If you come in late and back the winner, you’ll be among many and not have much place in the picture. If you back the loser, well, your money goes down the drain. But if you pick the winner and associate early enough in the selection process, you have a golden relationship-building opportunity, and your relationship with the winner gives you power because of your own access level.
How do you translate these ideas to effective marketing decisions?
First, none of them are quick fixes, though sometimes they result in stunning opportunities, when the time is right. Outside of luck — you might just be in the right place at the right time — marketing for change circumstances requires quite a bit of advance planning and often a fair bit of subtlety. Yet differentiation in the right way in these places can give you a long-term edge and puts your foot in the door for new opportunities.