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How Staying Flexible Helps You Weather Changes in the Marketing World

When I moved to Vermont from the central coast of California, I knew adjustments would have to be made. I found myself shopping for snow boots and real cold weather clothes, items which had never populated my closet before. Snow tires for my car, a snow shovel for my walkway—I was determined to be ready for the weather I’d never lived in before.

The first snow came, and I found myself giddy with joy. It arrived the day before Thanksgiving, which happened to be the last day of grad school classes that week. We were in the middle of an in-class assignment but a snowball found its way to being tossed around the classroom. It ended its journey in my hand, and I stared at it in wonder. This thing I’d heard about but never experienced before—a New England winter—had come! This was obvious as I walked back up the hill to my home, slipping and sliding but still giddy.

A snowball during class and adjusting to walking like a penguin on ice weren’t the only changes.

I’m accustomed to listening to the radio each morning as I get ready for my day, but instead of daily “wine country” updates reporting rain fall and vineyard production, I heard daily “snow country” updates reporting snow fall and ski trail reports. Precipitation was still important, but in a different way. Weather reports on the radio became more valuable than ever, and I found myself paying attention to marketing in ways I hadn’t before.

Grocery store ads became more interesting as they advertised different local and seasonal crops from those I’d known in the Golden State, and through other local ads and sales, I found the joys of ice scrapers, the right size snow shovel, and how to choose for myself whether I prefer gloves or mittens.

Knowing one's audience and their changing needs is critical in order to market appropriately, just as knowing one's climate is important in order to dress appropriately. As marketers, being able to recognize and adjust to the needs of your audience, as one adjusts to the seasons, is part and parcel to staying competitive. If you can sense the winds of change, it's time to revisit that marketing plan.

Three winters in, I’m grateful for the way marketing can—and must—be adjusted to target the audience in a particular marketplace and season. It’s nice to hear how wine crops are going back in California, but I’d rather know what cold weather clothing sales are going on in my area. And the difference is not just during the winter—the absence of surf reports and surf boards reminds me I’m in Vermont, and no longer on a coast. Instead, there are ads for kayaks and canoes, which are much more valuable to me here.

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