Laws of Marketing Power: Master the Art of Timing

“Law 46: Master the art of timing.”

Everyone knows the old expression, “Timing is everything.” Market timing is the art of knowing when to offer a new product/service. It is also knowing when to buy and sell assets like property or stock in a company.

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Additionally, timing can play a central role in planning dramatic marketing gestures, as I wrote previously in regards to the 25th law of power (Re-create yourself). By timing communication well with your buyer, you speed along a sale. By timing it poorly, you at best annoy and at worst insult the buyer. That is why smart marketers cater the frequency and type of communication to the individual characteristics of the buyer and her respective place in the purchase cycle. When the buyer needs to research, you offer educational materials; when the buyer is ready to commit, you offer more sophisticated details about a purchase (e.g., product after-sales service) or contract (e.g., payment schedule for services).

Robert Greene writes: Become a detective of the right moment … Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Marketers must be detectives of the right moment in order to capture buyers when they’re ready. As we know, the Web buyer’s path to purchase usually isn’t linear, and we need to recognize and accommodate buying signals with usable interfaces and responsive customer service. Rushing buyers is never the answer: Pressure generally doesn’t work on them, especially for big-ticket purchases with long-term consequences. In fact, it can alienate unless it’s the self-imposed variety (e.g., a budget deadline for a B2B purchase), in which case the marketer can and should respond appropriately by identifying with and mitigating buyer concerns.

“Never seem to be in a hurry – hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time.  Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually.

Another way to look at this instruction is to understand the relationship between patience and confidence. The seller-marketer who waits for the buyer to come forward trusts that the right buyer will recognize value and emerge when ready. And by waiting, the patient marketer can confidently move in like a skilled hunter and capture its prey when the time is right. Once the buyer shows enough interest, the marketer’s job is nearly done: A product will sell itself.

However, the wrong approach can derail a near-sure sale. The impatient hunter strikes too soon, and the buyer flees. The marketer crowds the buyer’s space (pressure) or offends sensibilities, and suddenly a sale evaporates. Experienced salespeople will tell you when a sale is nearly done, you should stop stalking. By opening your mouth, you risk saying the wrong thing and offending your buyer or otherwise thwarting a purchase. Keep your mouth shut until the transaction clears or the contract is signed. Master the art of timing.


This post is part of a series in which I explore in-depth how some of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power relate to marketing.


Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey via Flickr.

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