Not so long ago, sophisticated marketers were looking at planning horizons of 1-5 years or more, projecting supply and demand to create marketing strategies and tactics. They were using things like seasonal tendencies to create market-timing strategies and they were quite successful.

It went like this: Fed-cattle prices peaked in March and April, declined to the seasonal low in late summer and strengthened into the fall. Cull-cow marketings that could be delayed from the fall and held until after the first of the year could garner producers the easiest $50 bump in the industry. And, after two losing turns of fed cattle, it was time to own cattle because feeders would purchase their profits back.

All of these rules were based on solid logic and historical precedents. Most of these are in doubt today.

The question is, are today’s conditions just short-term disruptions and the market balance will eventually be restored? Or are we operating under new rules?

Certainly, seasonal price swings have always been related to production practices, which are largely still in place, though not as unerringly. The reasoning is simple, market-beating strategies, no matter how valid, simply don't last. By simply observing and understanding a market pattern, you’ll eventually cause it to stop.

As a result, the old rules of thumb don’t work as well as in the past, and likely never will again. Marketing horizons are becoming much smaller and consistently beating the market becomes increasingly more difficult.

As one professional marketer told me, “Market timing is still important, but the windows are narrowed. Longer term, the best strategy is to create the right product with value initiatives.”