10/02/2012 11:39 am ET Updated Dec 02, 2012

From Brand Man to Weather Man

This Advertising Week is my first since joining The Weather Channel, shifting from brand marketer to weather marketer. I love Advertising Week as it's a great time to catch up with friends, hear about the latest and greatest in marketing innovation, and learn a few new things.

One of the things that has excited me most about marketing over the past two months has been learning more about weather and how it impacts people, how it affects business and how marketers can exploit weather in their campaigns. The innovations with data in marketing have made is easier and easier to get the right message to the right person at the right time, helping build brands and drive sales. Until I joined The Weather Channel, I honestly had not thought much about how I could optimize marketing based on the forecast.

In my past marketing jobs, the objective was to connect the brand to the customer in relevant, compelling ways to drive results: through music, sports, movies and everyday utility in making decisions and accomplishing tasks. Every idea, strategy and execution was rooted in data and measurement. But we didn't consider weather data. I now wonder, looking back, why we didn't.

Millions of Americans start their day by checking the weather -- on TV, on the web, on their phone, more often than not on The Weather Channel apps. The weather is far more than a forecast or a number. It is a core ingredient in how people decide what they are going to do or not do. The weather forecast sets their plan for the day -- what to wear, how to get to work, what weekend projects to do, what activities to enjoy, what to do with the family. It's a personal planning platform that touches every person everyday. I have realized that there is no better way to connect to people than the weather. The weather is relevant to everyone, and always a topic of conversation.

What does this all mean? That weather is a great platform for marketers. Weather is a huge influencer of consumer demand and purchase intent, and it is extremely predictable and impactful. A major insurance company cited weather-related issues over 20 times in a recent annual report, and retail seasons can be made or lost based on the weather. So many marketing objectives can be attached directly to the forecast. Marketers can leverage the forecast and the feeling associated with the weather to adapt messaging and product mix at a hyper-local level to meet the needs and expectation of customers. Weather is rich in data, and you can look at historical data going back many years, matching and using people's reaction and feelings about the weather to grow your brand.

As my colleague and friend here at The Weather Channel, Paul Walsh, who's both a meteorologist and economist (how cool is that?), says, "We're helping our customers transition into a new paradigm regarding weather -- from 'cope and avoid' to 'anticipate and exploit.'" The ability to anticipate and exploit weather conditions in near real time to optimize marketing will lead to better results and more relevant marketing.

Our new WeatherFX program has resonated greatly with marketers because we are connecting their business to the weather, and their customers' feelings associated with different weather conditions. The ability to look back and bridge past sales data to past weather conditions, on a hyper-local level, allows marketers to better connect with customers. Forecasting the first freeze to leverage winter coat sales based on data, vs. dates. Connecting sales back to past weather conditions and automatically adjusting messaging on a city-by-city or ZIP code-by-ZIP code basis can make big differences.

As I hear about the latest innovations in marketing, data, tracking, original content and whatever is next this week, I will continue to think about how adding weather can make marketing more effective. I hope you will too. Until then, check the weather, and don't get caught in the rain without an umbrella this week...

Follow me on Twitter @erichad and check out @weatherchannel.