Measuring Tape

The long and the short of marketing

I could literally talk about this for hours, the short term-ism of sales tactics has led to the sales department being put on the preverbal pedestal thanks to a pervasive naivety amongst decision-makers who are desperately chasing today, at the expense of their own tomorrow. Did you know that the average sales rep only stays in post for 1.5 years? Why? Because the short will NEVER be greater than the long… but I will stop the pre-amble there.

I try to keep it concise, I won’t keep you more than 5 minutes today, or 8 minutes if you watch the video. Actually better still, just watch the video, Peter Field and Les Binet are far more articulate on this than I am.


The Long and the Short of It, Peter Field & Les Binet

The average person on the street doesn’t care as much for brands as you think they do and never as much as you do for the brand(s) you are responsible for as a marketer. This concept is well articulated by Bob Hoffman but isn’t really the topic for today, so I will make sure to pick it up in a future blog. This said, building a strong brand is the ultimate goal for any marketer, but it is often at odds with the pressure to deliver instant results. The balancing act for any marketer is to deliver short term gains that will hopefully pay for the long term growth.

The IPA report by Les Binet and Peter Field called ‘The Long and the Short of It’ argues that having a long-term strategy to grow is a more effective moving indicator on market share, profit and revenue than short-term planning.


“There’s a huge misconception that if we can just keep achieving short term success, if we can just have one good quarter after another, then some how that will add up to long term success; and that of course turns out to be fundamentally untrue.”
Peter Field, IPA


However, businesses need results to survive and in the early stages of building a brand, it is often a case that money is needed quickly to pay the overheads. It is often difficult for marketers to justify spending on a long-term campaign in the early stages as the results that it returns are negligible. Allowing the time for a long-term strategy can be costly before the full reward can be felt.

This is when businesses often push marketers for campaigns that show instant results. Campaigns based on price reductions, giveaways and promotions are short-term strategies aimed to bring in money. These have little success in building emotional connections with the brand of a product or service for the long term.


As with everything in life, surely it’s all about balance?

There is an argument for a hybrid mix of the two strategies: a long-term campaign that aims to build the feel and story of a brand for people to buy into, and alongside this a short-term campaign that looks at short-term sales to generate the money that feeds the long-term strategy. The split on this hybrid approach should not be 50/50. Many leading marketers feel the split should be 60/40 or even as high as 70/30 in favour of the higher amount to be spent on the long-term plan. I would agree as this graph shows the effects on sales that long-term strategy will deliver more success than continual short-term campaigns.

Even with a long-term plan, it is important to continually review. Always measure how the campaign is going against the key performance indicators that you have set out in the campaign allowing you to make adjustments when needed, as shown below in the ‘Implement’ stage of our own approach to marketing management.


My final point would be to hold your nerve. There are some who will always try and push further along the short-term route and try for instant success, but long-term success is rarely achieved with short-term gains. Those with control of the pursestrings will always want to see ROI quickly but stand firm and the gains will come if you keep going and keep reviewing the plan.


You can give us a call on 01522 708 855 or drop us an email to discuss the marketing strategy for your business in more detail.