This winter we’ve already had about 18 inches of snow, which is more than we’ve had in any of the past three winters total. Four years ago we got hammered with about five feet of snow throughout the winter, and we might reach those levels this year.
With certain amounts of snow, ice, and cold, we tend to get school closings, activity cancellations, and often business closings. Extreme weather of any sort affects how we live our lives and do business. Our schedules are often disrupted. Bad weather might force us to leave earlier for work to allow more time to get there. Or it might cause us to stay home altogether.
Why is this important to our small businesses and our marketing efforts?
When our customers regular schedules are disrupted, it can change the way we reach them online. Hopefully you know the online habits of your customers, especially the time of day that is best to reach them. That sort of information can be found in your Facebook insights and Google analytics. That information should shape when you seek them out online. But if they normally only log on to sites like Facebook in the evening when they get home from work, that could change if the bad weather keeps them home all day. You might have more access to them throughout the day.
If you are in more of a B2B situation, you’re less likely to get your normal work day reach on social media when those customers are at home with their families, rather than sitting at their desk.
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Take advantage of these schedule disruptions and understand that you might not be able to reach your customers when you normally do, but can reach them at different times.
This morning for instance, most area schools have a two hour delay due to sub-zero temperatures. That means parents and kids will be home longer, and will be online a bit more, checking out weather related information. They’ll be getting to work and school later. Everything changes.
Back in 2009, the Fulton Theatre was running their original production of Annie when a big snow storm hit the area, closing down many businesses and making travel very difficult. The Fulton had a theater full of actors ready to go, and the potential for lots of empty seats. What did they do? They took advantage of the disruption and used social media to alert people to deep discounts on tickets. Better to put on a show for a full theater at lower prices, then lose money. And, since Lancaster is a very walkable city, it didn’t take them long to fill the theater and generate some revenue. Quick thinking and a creative response saved the day.
When extreme weather or other events disrupt the schedules of your customers, remember that you’ll need to adjust your schedule as well. Taking care of business as usual might not be what’s best for you. Understand your customers and how these disruptions will change their behaviors, both online and offline.
How do you respond to disruptions? Do you understand how they affect not only you, but your customers as well?