The Science of TIMING

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Because many times, timing IS everything!

In today’s edition, we’re covering Temporal Landmarks and Temporal Discounting. What are they and how you can use both to drive more business? 

What the heck are Temporal Landmarks? 

You already know, there are days…and then… there are days

Surprisingly they are not all equal 😉

Temporal Landmarks are significant dates such as the start of a new year, month, or week. 

They also include birthdays, anniversaries, or beginnings of new engagements – like starting a new job.

And research bears this out. 

For example, studies have found that people whose age ended in nine were over-represented among first-time marathoners by 48%!


These people wanted to achieve something BEFORE the start of their next decade. 

To them, they were marking a temporal landmark by doing something significant. 

Let’s look at another example – dieting. 

Daniel Pink in his book, When highlights a study done by Google. Researchers at the search giant analyzed eight and a half years of data. Here’s what they found…

To no one’s surprise…The word diet rockets up on January 1st by about 80% over other days. 

Hmmm. I wonder if they did similar research on dudes turning 60 looking for red Corvettes.


I think we can all agree…a new year is a temporal landmark. It all makes sense. 

But it gets even better….

Researchers also found that searches increased on the first of every month and the first of every week!

Interesting don’t ya think? 

Even things like the first day of spring are more significant vs. March 20th. 

Fresh Starts

There’s another element associated with Temporal Landmarks – it’s called fresh starts. 

People see themselves differently during temporal landmarks because they enter points of transition. 

They are preparing to leave their old selves behind and want to embrace something new. 

Back to the example above, January 1st and dieting. 

Millions are searching Google because, in their head, they are ready for a fresh start. And are open to messaging that may help on this new journey. 

That’s why January is prime time for weight loss and health club marketing messages. 

It’s also why you never hear anyone start something big on a Wednesday. Mondays have the “fresh start” appeal baked in. 

How To Use This To Market More Effectively

Now that we understand Temporal Landmarks, here are five ideas you can leverage to build your business. 

  1. Test your marketing and messaging on Mondays (the start of the week) and Sundays (when people are prepping for the start of the week). 
  1. Create marketing campaigns around key holidays. The obvious one is New Year’s Eve. But don’t forget about Valentine’s Day, and the dozens of other ‘Days’ throughout the year. These may also be effective. 
  1. Take advantage of other inflection points e.g. the start of spring, back to school, the end of summer. 
  1. Birthdays. Always reach out on a birthday!

  2. Consider other transition points. This could include: 
  1. Selling a house
  2. A new job
  3. Anniversary
  4. Kids going off to college

Next, let’s look at temporal landmarks’ cousin temporal discounting. Let’s goooo!

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Next Up, Temporal Discounting… Oh Yeah 🙂

If temporal landmarks are all about looking at the future. Temporal discounting focuses on the present. 

We discount the value of something JUST because it’s in the future and not now. And we focus on immediate rewards over bigger future rewards

Here’s an example: investing in a 401(K). 

We all know the benefits of investing. You invest a little bit of money regularly and through the magic of compounding 20 years later…it’s a lot of money. 

Simple idea. 

But for many it’s hard to do.

It doesn’t feel like we are paying ourselves. It just feels like a lot of money is coming out of our paycheck every two weeks. 

So what happens? 

We don’t invest. 

Instead, we focus on the sugar rush of the present. And by doing that, we miss out on much bigger rewards like having the ability to retire. 

Travel is in the same general camp as investing. It’s an infrequent, high-consideration, high-dollar purchase. The benefits can be… life-changing. But there’s a wall to overcome. 

And if you’re in the business of selling travel, temporal discounting can be a real killer. 

So What Can You Do?

Here are five ideas for overcoming temporal discounting. When done right you can significantly increase the likelihood to purchase. 

  1. Use the right language. Your copy needs to do a couple of things. First, it needs to help the reader identify with their current state. You’re successful, you have achieved a lot, you are close to your family. Words and phrases like these help paint the picture of the current self. Next, build the bridge that will take your reader to the other side. Now imagine. Picture yourself. Think about waking up…
  1. Make the first step a small one. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. So, make that first step a small one. Send them to a landing page with information describing what they can expect when working with you. Maybe it’s a Zoom call. Maybe the next step is to get them to watch a video or download a PDF. Whatever it is…make it small and make it easy. 

  2. Offer a book now, pay later option. Lowering the amount they have to pay upfront will help overcome temporal discounting because a client gets the benefits of travel but without the pain of a big upfront payment. There are more and more banking partners everyday it seems to help support this.

  3. Create a milestones calendar. This can be as simple as a Word or Google doc with things to do 30 days out, 15 days out, etc…Mix in practical with fun items. For example: 

30 Days Out: 

  • Stop mail delivery
  • Notify the credit card company of your travel 
  • Review restaurant options of places you would like to try
  • Pick out a few new clothes for the trip

It’s nothing fancy or special at all. But it will get people thinking and excited about what’s coming up.

As I said, you can create this in a Word or Google Doc. But if you want to go next level, set up an email sequence and send out the right messaging to your clients at the appropriate time.

  1. Provide value ads. Once they put down the first payment for the trip, consider layering on the perks. A free breakfast, a round of drinks, arrange for a ride to and from the airport. You can provide them all at once…or spread them out before they leave as little rewards along the way. 

And there you have it – temporal landmarks and temporal discounting. These are important principles to understand. And once you do, you can leverage them to help put more dollars in your wallet. 

This psych lesson is over for today. Stay ahead of the pack!   If you liked the post, quickly share it with your work friends.

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