My trash cans are inside my garage. That’s one of just a few precautions they are telling everyone on the East Coast to take in preparation for Hurricane Sandy making landfall in just a few hours. The storm has dominated TV news reports for the last several days and is already historic in not so good ways. It is also the perfect reminder that most of your pre-scripted marketing you have may backfire when the world shifts around you.

Earlier this year concert promoter Live Nation got into trouble when they prescheduled tweets about a RadioHead concert and forgot to cancel them when tragedy struck and part of the stage collapsed hours before the show.  The same thing is happening right now with political ads. As a resident of Virginia, I am seeing George Allen and Tim Kaine both promise through their TV ads to help Virginians and care about us. But their manipulative ads seem even less worthy of trust when seen in the midst of all the coverage of the Hurricane.

Timing matters, and the timing of their ads just makes then look out of touch. Of course, we all know the ads were done before we knew about the storm … but no one cares about politics when the storm of the century is bearing down on their homes. This is a human behaviour that many of us in marketing forget about. Just because someone happens to be the right demographic for your message doesn’t mean they will care about hearing it right now.

Great and believable marketing requires combining the right message with the right timing.  Otherwise, you’ll be out of touch and irrelevant – like so many politicians this election season.