Playing short. Thinking long

It’s one of the great marketing pressure points. Juggling long-term brand building with the need to deliver short-term results. We’ve talked about it before and we’re certainly not alone, with the issue forming the focus of an iconic 2013 study from UK-based Les Binet and Peter Field, “The Long and the Short of It: Balancing the short and long-term effects of marketing.”
On the surface they may seem diametrically opposed strategies. But there’s growing evidence working on your short game may actually hold the key to driving sustained, long-term brand value especially in an age of digital disruption, fragmented media and complex multi-channel campaigns.

Look after your long vision.
One of the biggest watch-outs for Binet and Field was the rising tendency for many brands to use short-term metrics to measure success. By looking only at the immediate road ahead, they argued this has dangerous long-term brand implications, and we can only agree. Central to their reasoning was the inherent struggle between ‘head and heart’. Specifically, they found that rational strategies, while good at delivering quick results, are typically far less memorable than emotional ones. In other words, more emotive communications are a lot better at building awareness and deeper brand connections that, ultimately, translate into better profits. Short-term sales spikes may look good on a spreadsheet but, as Binet explained, ‘œemotion is where the really big profits lie.’

Strengthening the links between long and short.
It may seem a little counter-intuitive. But recalibrating existing short-term strategies can actually be an effective way to help drive longer-term brand value. In particular, bringing a more strategic and selective approach to your digital activations “classically seen as a short-term tactics” can help to build brands from the bottom up.
Social media provides the perfect case in point. While single interactions on Facebook or Instagram may only be fleeting in isolation, collectively they can create a powerful platform for adding long-term brand value. The trick, of course, is to be consistent in your message, tone and visual language, to leave a strong cumulative brand imprint over time. In this way, it’s a bit like a colony of ants. On their own, individual ants are small and can’t achieve much. But when they work together they can do amazing things and are pretty hard to ignore!

Creating frameworks for continuity.
One of the most significant challenges in the short-term vs long-term balancing act, is that long-term strategies, by their very nature, take time to build and show quantifiable results. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you stay the course. Trouble is, when marketing teams are prone to chopping and changing, previous learnings and strategies can quickly go out of the window. As marketers, and managers, it’s essential to find ways to retain knowledge and ensure strategic brand continuity beyond any single person. Establishing more robust long-term frameworks with empowered teams of brand custodians is a good place to start, rather than having a brand’s destiny resting entirely in the hands of any one individual (who, frankly, may or may not even be there in a year’s time). It’s all about reframing short-term campaigns and initiatives through the overlaying of a longer-term brand perspective.

Want your short-term campaigns to drive better long-term value? Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.