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Is your audience on 24/7?

TimemovementWhen I was growing up, my dad would get home from work around 6:00 pm.  He’d be carrying a briefcase and wearing a suit.  That was work dad. Once he walked in the door, he’d say hello and chat for a minute and then head upstairs to change.  When he came back downstairs in his jeans and casual shirt, he was home dad.  And for the most part, the two didn’t blend. 

There were no home computers back then and the only phone we owned had a really, really long cord so you might have a decent shot of having a private conversation if you stretched it as far as it would go.   Social norms dictated that my dad’s employees or boss didn’t call him at home unless there was a genuine emergency, so as a result, he rarely got work calls.

From what I could tell, that wasn’t unique to our house.  It was just how it was.

Contrast that with the results of a recent study done by Forbes (April 2012) that found that among senior decision makers the line between work and non-work time has all but been blurred away.

  • 52% say they receive information related to business decisions around-the-clock, including weekends.
  • 63% check work-related email every 1-2 hours during non-work hours.
  • 53% step away from dinner to deal with work-related issues.
  • 98% send work-related emails during the weekends or at night.

Only 3% of those surveyed said they did not interact with work-related email or have business conversations (via email, text or phone) while enjoying their vacation.

One fact that the study uncovered which gave me great hope -- there’s one period of time that most executives still protect and keep business from intruding.  Dinnertime with their families.

Interestingly, with execs staying connected throughout the workday, evening and weekends – they’re reporting that many business decisions are being made outside of business hours and outside the office.  59% of executives make 50% or more of their decisions at home or while traveling.

What I found most surprising about this study is that when asked how this uber connectivity made them feel, the executives overwhelmingly reacted in a positive way.  The word they used to describe how they felt about it was “empowered.”  They feel more in control and better prepared.

Today, professionals “toggle” between their personal and professional lives.   It’s not just a one-way street.  While they’re making business decisions from home, they’re also making personal decisions while at work.

What’s the takeaway from all of this for us, as marketers?

Work is no longer a nine to five proposition and we’ve got to factor that into how we communicate with our customers and prospects.   Today, work is more of a state of mind, rather than a state of time or place.

So timing your marketing efforts to coincide with the 9-5 workday is actually shortsighted. You are choosing the most crowded time for no real reason.  Your audience is connected and working pretty much all the time.

Even if you choose a less crowded time – you still have more competition than ever before.  Today, your target is not just doing one thing.   People have become master multitaskers.  We’re going to have to work harder to actually capture someone’s full attention.

This is another reason content marketing, social media and other “providing helpful information” marketing is rising to the top.  It also means that timely response has taken on a whole new meaning.  If they’re working on Saturday afternoon, do you think a reply by noon on Monday feels responsive?

You see – it’s not just “them” who is connected and working 24/7. It better be us too.


~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog




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