Long term success with short term wins

By Chris Ashton, Time54 Marketing.

At a time where companies are undertaking cost-cutting exercises to secure their short-term survival, it is difficult to think about the long-term outlook.

There’s uncertainty in the air and sales will take a hit. A decrease in construction contracts is forecast, there’s reduced output and a lower demand are factors that are forcing businesses to make tough decisions.

One such decision is the marketing budget and the allocation of resources to promote your business and communicate with your audience. It is often an easy decision to cut a marketing budget, but what will the long-term impact be?

Data2Decisions, a leading econometric modelling consultancy, conducted a study which showed the short-term gains of reducing costs is far outweighed by the reduction of profits over the following four-year period, and also a reduction in brand trust.

In other words, businesses that continue to invest in their marketing will flourish (if done effectively). They will have loyal a customer-base, as well as taking market share from competitors. Their brand will be strong within the marketplace, and when the economy picks up again they will be at the forefront of their customers’ minds.

Common practices during an uncertain economic climate include cutting marketing costs and competing on price with their competitors.

Sure, this may bring in temporary benefits and quick wins with a slight pick-up in sales and reduced outgoings. But what does this strategy tell your customers?

More than likely it will tell your customers your products or services are worth less and bring less value to your customers. It also implies that a business has lost momentum, and if marketing budgets are cut there’s less communication, and brands fall by the wayside.

Long-term and short-term growth are connected, but it’s important to know that long-term growth isn’t just achieved by adding up a series of short-term wins.

Work out where you want to be in six to 12 months’ time, then create a framework that breaks down how you are going to get there.

A key marketing activity, which will feature throughout, is content and how you communicate it to your audience. We hear the phrase “content won’t sell my products” a lot, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Content will help to start conversations with new and existing customers. Tell your story and tell your audience how you can help solve their problems. That’s what they want to know and hear. They don’t necessarily want to hear about a new product or a new service, they want the value and what it brings to them.

Done on a consistent basis, this will ensure long-term growth, as it will strengthen your relationship with new and existing customers. But how do you achieve short-term wins and sales success? Focus on your audience’s pain points and problems, then create a schedule in how you can help.

Then, as part of your short-term framework, decide how best to communicate your content. Does your audience engage and open emailshots? Are they active over social media? Do they find your website through Google searches?

The answer is they probably do all of the above; it is ensuring you hit them over a multiple of channels so your brand influences your audience on a regular basis. This increases trust, which then increases the likelihood that they will want to do business with you.

This demonstrates that the best investment for your business is on your brand. This is supported by a study by Citibank which found that companies with well-known brands outperform the market by between 15% and 20% over a 15-year period.

The next six to 12 months will be hugely challenging with unprecedented levels of uncertainty, but to give you the best chance of thriving is to create a long-term plan, broken down into short-term actions to bring consistent growth.

Time54 can help you create a clear plan, then decide on the best way to achieve such a plan and bring short-term sales successes to your business.