Timing Is Everything | Bruce Turkel

My plane to Cabo was scheduled to leave at 2:45 and we pulled up to the airport a little less than an hour before that. Gloria was off for the day, and she was nice enough to drive me herself, so we had left the house a bit early to enjoy a quick lunch together before my trip. I had plenty of time, but it was still a little later than I usually like to arrive at the airport – especially for an international flight.

Gloria pulled around the traffic waiting to go into the first entrance at the departures level. There was a large, shuddering motor coach sitting in front of the crosswalk at the curb, so she slowed to make sure no one was walking in front of the bus before she pulled ahead and into the terminal.

Good thing, too. Because as we reached the front of the bus, sure enough a woman walked past the coach and right in front of our now-stopped car. But instead of continuing on her way across the street, she stopped to unscrew the top of her water bottle and take a big gulp. I was impressed at how carefully she poured the water into her mouth so she didn’t make contact with the bottle, but not so impressed by the fact that she was standing directly in front of us in the crosswalk, totally halting our progress and causing the line of approaching cars to pile up behind us.

When is a Crosswalk Not a Crosswalk?

“It says ‘crosswalk!’” I said to the woman in front of us, despite the fact that our windows were rolled up and she couldn’t hear a word I said. “It doesn’t say stop-and-take-a-drink-of-water-in-front-of-everyone-walk.”

She stood there so long that another man stepped into the crosswalk, heading in her same direction. Thankfully this guy did not stop to have a drink, but he still held up traffic because he was walking so slowly. 

Wait, did I say “walking?” Actually, he was moving so slowly it was more like a stroll in Central Park or the Tuileries in Paris than a walk across a busy thoroughfare.

“It’s a crosswalk,” I said again, even though he couldn’t hear me either. “Not a strollwalk or a saunterwalk. It’s a crosswalk, dammit. It should be a runwalk or a get-the-hell-out-of-the-way-walk. What do you think this is, California, where every car screeches to a halt if you so much as point your toe off the curb? C’mon, man, move it.”

Of course, none of this did anything to speed the guy up. He continued to take his sweet time, looking around slowly as if he was hiking in the woods and was overwhelmed by the beautiful trees and abundant wildlife, instead of trying to cross a busy street in front of the airport.

Did I mention that this happened in January in Miami? Because despite what the Chamber of Commerce would have you believe about our winter weather; it was hot and sunny and my saunterer risked extended exposure to potential melanoma by taking his time on the unshaded road and reflective asphalt.

Needless to say, none of this bothered my wife. Not one bit. And why would it? She didn’t have a plane to catch and she didn’t have a keynote speech to go and deliver. In fact, she didn’t really have anywhere else to be. Instead, she found all of it – including my aggravated outbursts – quite funny.

But it’s not always like that.

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Sometimes, when Gloria’s on call while and we’re out running errands, and her phone rings and it’s the dispatcher at the hospital and they have a patient for her to go see and I agree to go along with her and sit in the car because I have nothing pressing to do and I always have something with me to read anyways and the person driving the car in front of us at the red light is texting and doesn’t see the light change and suddenly she’s in a whirlwind of a hurry all of a sudden she’s the one who’s annoyed and I’m the one who finds it all amusing.

“Oye bestia despacio,” she’ll curse in her beautiful Spanish, “muevete!”

Timing is Everything

So, what does any of this have to do with your brand? Just a simple reminder that your customers – and your potential customers – are more concerned with what’s going on in their lives at the moment than they are with whatever message it is you’re trying to get across. If they’re receptive to your offer, and in a place and a mindset where they can take advantage of what you’re offering, you’re much more likely to be successful than if you’re reaching out to them when they’re busy, involved in something else, worried, or otherwise distracted. 

Finding the right time to present your offer should be a well-considered part of your messaging strategy – as carefully thought out as your message. Because the timing of your communication is just as important – and sometimes much more important – than the content itself.

Or, as Steve Martin once said, “Ti-ming is everything.”

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