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Dear Fellow Marketers,

We've made a dire mistake. We've missed a HUGE opportunity this Winter season. With a near record-breaking snowfall in Boston, unprecedented snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures across the USA (40% of the country experienced Winter Storm advisories at various points throughout February), we've felt the pain.

But, we also realized that with the pain, there could be gain for us. What is this golden opportunity you ask?

The snow.

Yes, really. When the snow falls, consumers are held captive. Literally, bringing new meaning to the idea of a captive audience. Think about the characteristics surrounding the Holy Grail of Marketing - the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl serves as our end-all-be-all due to the reach, the engaged audience, the media frenzy surrounding the event and the multi-screen engagement.

A snowstorm is no different. It's possibly better given we can address people's emotional and functional needs and communicate to an audience in an uninterrupted environment. A captive audience for the 48-hour snowstorm trumps the Super Bowl's short, four hour window.As data-driven strategists, we have the quantitative facts from our snowstorm survey to support this theory.

Snowstorm ? Super Bowl

Similar to the Super Bowl, snowstorms are a three-part event - before, during and after-with differing emotions and needs tied to each phase of the experience.

Given the shared characteristics, we can take a cue from the Super Bowl strategies. Here are the audibles to your marketing mix that you should be aware of:

  • Make Every Minute Count: Prepping for the Event
  • Go Big or Go Home: Leveraging Intent
  • Prep for the Next Season: Leverage Seasonality to Drive Messaging

Make Every Minute Count: Prepping for the Big Event

Taking a page from the Super Bowl marketing playbook, let's make every minute count. While game time may be the main event, we know the pre-game buzz before the first kick-off is an impactful way to stretch out the significant marketing investment.

Leading up to the snowstorms, people are extraordinarily focused on the forecast and the impact on their lives. According to AMP's Snowstorm Survey, 73% of people described themselves as concerned, and 61% of people felt 'annoyed', 'anxious', 'nervous' or 'stressed' before the storm. This anxiety-ridden state translated into frequenting local TV stations (71%) and weather apps (55%) for storm-related information.

Snow equates to obvious marketing opportunities for these weather-based media outlets. The Weather Channel reached an average of 292,000 people this February, the channel's strongest performance since 2011.

But, my esteemed colleagues, you should not be envious of these companies' fortune because you too can get in the game. Snow does not just mean constant checking of the weather forecast, it means shopping with urgency. 94% of people shop in preparation for the storm.

Snowstorms are the New Super Bowl Pre-Storm Source: AMP Agency 2015 Snowstorm Study

What Does This Mean For You?

You know where, what and how people are shopping during the prep period. Consider delivering snowstorm preparatory messaging via targeted digital marketing efforts to drive traffic in-store. Remember, 94% of people shop in preparation for the storm. You can extend the tailored messaging in-store by offering special Snow Survival Kits at grocery stores and mass retailers, the top two places where consumers are shopping prior to the storm.

Lastly, consider partnerships with utilitarian services like Uber, Peapod and Drizly in an effort to help alleviate consumers' stress around the storm. Drizly, an on-demand app for alcohol deliveries, reported that the Monday leading up to snowstorm Juno orders in NYC and Boston were up 477%.

Go Big or Go Home: Leverage Intent

The actual snow days offer a unique opportunity to think bigger than just storm needs. Certainly brands that offer functional products and services can capitalize on the snowstorm like Subaru surprising non-Subaru owners with free snow shovels that said "while waiting for your all-wheel drive." This promotion was a sound way to align a product benefit with a functional need given that 59% of adults spending time outside during a storm are most often shoveling or blowing snow.

But if your brand is not directly related to enabling winter survival, you can still take advantage of the captive audience and seasonality through smart targeting and relevant creative messaging.

89% of people spend their time at home during the storm. Our research shed some light on how they're spending that unadulterated time:

snowstorms are the new superbowl Source: AMP Agency 2015 Snowstorm Survey

What Does This Mean For You?

From day dreaming about warm vacations to researching ways to stay entertained, consider what the storm means to your audience? Leverage their behavioral intent to drive to content hubs that deliver on the need. For example, if people are searching for winter storm recipes, Campbell's Soup could develop and drive to a content hub that aggregates various classic winter recipes with a product tie-in.

Prep for the Next Season: Leverage Seasonality to Drive Messaging

In the case of snowstorms, it's the opposite of the calm before the storm. It's calm after the storm. 48% of people feel happy, relaxed, calm, or peaceful. It's the perfect time to usher in the uplifting messaging. Promote doomsday messaging pre-storm, then click reset and tap into consumers' rejuvenated state by sending inspiring messages their way (post-storm).

Snowstorms are the New Super Bowl (post-storm) Source: AMP Agency 2015 Snowstorm Study

What Does This Mean For You?

To continue your winning streak, leverage hyper-targeted, digital media tactics to deliver an uplifting, Spring-inspired message to those elated snowstorm survivors.

The Snowstorm Playbook: Key Takeaways 

If you remember anything from this heart-felted, long-winded letter, it's that consumers are checking their February forecast and you should too.

These is a new marketing opportunity in February that has the potential to deliver a greater ROI than that $4.5 MM, 30-second Super Bowl Spot. It's snowstorms.

Snowstorms really are the perfect marketing opportunity. We can reach a captive, engaged audience with a tailored message, at the right time, and in the right place.

In short, don't be like Pete Carroll, make the right call.

About the AMP Agency Snowstorm Study: AMP Agency, a full-service marketing agency, develops custom research to study and understand consumer behaviors and attitudes not currently represented with available syndicated sources. In February 2015, AMP Agency conducted a national survey of 492 adults who had experienced a snowstorm. The margin of error was +/- 4.42%. For more information on how custom market research can benefit your business, contact us

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In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for September 2021. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month.   A Return To The Typical For September 2021 After a weird August 2021, last month’s queries looked more like the ones to which we are accustomed. There were a few phrases that were queried over 10 million times.  Deadly weather events weren’t a top search topic - thank goodness - and the return of the NFL brought back many of the top team names back into the daily top 3. 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In my neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, many of the sidewalks are original - built when the neighborhood was coming together in the early part of the 20th century. You can locate stamps at intersections that have both obsolete street names - Sprague Street is now known as Rosemont; Margarette is now 34th Ave - and the names the contractors who poured the cement, along with the year they were poured. These small reminders of the recent past are fun to find, but point out a glaring inequity in their construction: These old sidewalks are not accessible, and not safe. An unimproved intersection The city is in the process of converting each of the city’s intersections into curb cutouts that are friendlier to those who may require assistance (wheelchairs, kneeling scooters, crutches, probing canes) getting up and onto sidewalks from the street. The brand new curb cutouts include a yellow rubberized traction pad that signals the transition between street and sidewalk, and there are eight on each improved intersection - two on each corner of a standard intersection. An improved intersection. This effort is happening not because the improvements and bright yellow traction pads are attractive, or because the contrast between the fresh cement and the old cement is nice to look at - but because it is the right thing to do for the citizens of Portland and those who have mobility issues who might otherwise need to be in the street in order to avoid the curb. This abides by the regulations set forth in American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The benefits go beyond supporting only people who have disabilities, though - anyone who has tried to use a rolling suitcase on the sidewalk, pushed a baby stroller over a curb, or can’t ollie on a skateboard can attest to that. By doing the right thing, Portland has chosen to make their city more accessible to more of its citizens. In our web development projects, we often support clients who need to do the equivalent curb-cutout improvements. Their sites may have been beautifully designed, but fall short in visual and technical areas that would help make their site more accessible. By bringing the site up to a baseline of accessibility standards set forth by the WCAG, the site becomes more equitable, inclusive, and usable for more people. The add-on effect for the client is that they have just widened their potential customer base by not excluding people who may consume web information in different ways. The improvement process also helps shake out other technical issues around markup structure, meaning the site may become more SEO-friendly and may render better in a wider range of devices after the improvements are implemented. While these efforts may be initially driven by legal justification (avoiding ADA lawsuits), or for marketing reasons (reaching more customers), improving your site’s accessibility is the just and correct thing to do. Our process begins by using a suite of tools that analyze the website to identify problem areas. This includes using voice-reader to read the website’s content - not everyone who browses your website will use their eyes to do so. We also see how the site renders without styles applied, validate the markup of the site to ensure the proper document structure & hierarchy is established, and closely scrutinize how interactive elements work. Particularly complex interactive elements like carousels or interactive navigation menus may require an entire rebuild in order to be accessible, but the goal is to maintain the current design or as close to it as possible. The end result of such an effort should not sacrifice visual design or interactivity, nor should it even be noticeable to those users who use standard means to interact with websites. But for those who need assistance, the improvements are welcome and appreciated. For sites that we build from scratch, we design and develop with this equity in mind from the beginning. By starting off with a requirement of accessibility, the new site enters the digital world already with accessibility in place. The level of accessibility, set forth by WCAG standards - “A” to “AAA”, with the latter being the most strict - may be dictated by the customer’s requirements. Projects for larger clients, non-profits, or government clients typically have a minimum accessibility level mandate for digital properties. But even for those without the mandate, doing the right thing results in a site that behaves nicely across different input types and allows for a wider audience to engage with the site. Do you need help with your site’s accessibility? Are you concerned your site is unintentionally excluding users?