And why that matters to marketers.
As we continue to explore the idea of local and the impact of local (both proximity and relevance), I've started thinking about the things that are most local to individual consumers. A few things jumped to my mind:
The impact of weather caught my attention as I hadn't spent much time thinking about how much it impacts people and the impact it can have on marketers. As I started to think about it, I got more and more excited about the implications for marketers. So I decided to go to the source of all things weather - The Weather Channel. I contacted Curt Hecht, chief global revenue officer for The Weather Channel to ask some questions, share some ideas, and hear if in fact marketers were starting to leverage weather information. Below are some of the interesting things Curt shared with me.
Jason Burby: Tell me about your view of the connection between weather and local.
Curt Hecht: As storms sweep across the country, they take shape, dissipate, grow, and impact everyone differently depending on where they are. For example, in San Francisco there are multiple areas with very different micro climates, even just 10 miles away from each other. It doesn't matter what the weather is in the "Bay Area," what really matters is what happens where you are in the Bay Area. And we know that weather drives feelings, moods, choices people make, and behaviors. Whether you go out to lunch, go for a walk, watch television at home, etc.
JB: Why does or should weather matter to marketers?
CH: Poor weather will impact store comps; weather was quite mild last year, so numbers will most likely be down this year for many retailers in comparison. Smart marketers will turn from using weather as an excuse for lack of performance to better using the weather to target their message or timing. This could be when to mark down, advertise, or have sales based on weather in a certain area. With us, marketers can connect sales data to weather data and activate with media on The Weather Channel properties - we call it WeatherFX.
Another example, recently a large insurance company mentioned the impact of weather 22 times in one earnings call. There are obvious connections between weather events and insurance companies. For example, we can forecast hail very accurately (time and location). Insurance companies can use this in two ways: first by sending alerts to their clients about an upcoming hail storm telling them to move cars under cover. This saves the insurance company significant money from claims as well as saves the customers the hassle of having a damaged car and needing to get it repaired. Secondarily, marketers can also use weather information to better target messaging right after a storm or major weather event. They can better target people when they are most interested in their products.
These don't always have to be storms. An example could be the first time in the spring where a specific area records an 80+ degree day, promote sunscreen or a refreshing summer drink. Or promote a trip to a warm climate for vacation after three days of consecutive rain in a certain area.
JB: How does weather impact changing consumer behaviors?
CH: Weather makes you feel different ways; if it is sunny and warm out you feel differently than when it has been cloudy and cold for five days in a row. By understanding how it impacts buying or consideration behavior you can better target your audience. Should you tune your messaging based on weather in certain areas based on what is happening with the weather? I can't tell you it will make a difference for your business, but many companies are seeing success by understanding the weather.
This answer made me think about ways marketers could start to put this information to work. Here are a few of the ideas that came out of our conversation:
It was inspiring to talk to Curt to explore ways to leverage something that is literally right outside all of our doors or windows. Something that has considerable impact on what we are thinking, how we are feeling, and what we are doing - all of which will impact how we engage or ignore marketers' messages. Hopefully this triggers as many ideas for you as it did for me.
Please share your thoughts on other ways marketers should/could be leveraging weather data to improve their success. Also let me know other things that are extremely powerful that are often overlooked.
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As president of the Americas regions for the digital agency POSSIBLE, Jason is responsible for leading the long-term stability and growth of the region. Jason has 20-plus years experience in digital strategy. He is a long-time advocate of using data to inform digital strategies to help clients attract, convert, and retain customers. Jason supports our clients and employees in driving new engagements and delivering great work that works.
Jason speaks frequently about helping marketers take advantage of data to make smarter business decisions and improve the success of their organizations. He is the co-author of Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
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