July 15, 2021
Marketing strategies can fall into two categories: long-term and short-term. Long-term marketing is where you build brand awareness over time to gain customer loyalty. Short-term marketing is where you focus on ads to quickly drive performance. You need both to grow. Long-term marketing strategies build a strong connection with customers, which takes time. But the payoff is that they will become loyal and valuable to you and your brand, and they will refer others to you organically, at no cost to you. This allows you to scale your short-term marketing efforts and spend more on creative. The two strategies go hand in hand.
Many times, people think you have your long-term branding team and your short-term performance team and they are at odds with each other. The long-term branding marketers always think the performance marketers are doing things that aren’t going to work in the long term, and that although they are successful in the short term, they aren’t helping to build the brand. What they’re really saying is you won’t be able to scale your volume up over time using a short-term strategy. The short-term performance marketers think that they’re getting good results and building the brand based upon actual market signals, and they can see right away that their strategies are working. The truth is, both of them are right. If you want a successful marketing strategy that focuses on the full funnel, using both long term and short term marketing is what you have to do.
Where the two sides work best is when you feed the insights you get from short-term performance marketing to your long-term marketing. It’s just one more form of market research that your long-term marketers should be looking at. Short-term performance marketing is just a vehicle you can use to gain powerful, proprietary, and even first-party intelligence from your customers. When you look at it like this, you can see where long and short-term marketing are compatible. Together, they also help you learn more about your customer.
The key here is to make sure that the insights you gain from short-term marketing are useful to your long-term marketing strategy. Marketing organizations often miss this. They might launch a lot of activity on Facebook or other channels and it’s a massive success. Then, they quadruple their marketing spend on the ad. From a performance point of view, this is what they should be doing. But other than throwing more money at it, what positive business decisions does this information lead them to? The answer is not many. The inputs most performance marketers have into their execution are minimal or non-existent, and it's certainly not very strategic.
You can bridge long-term brand building and short-term performance marketing to a greater degree by having a dedicated strategic planning function in your internal marketing team. This helps build assets that give actionable feedback on the results when launched. You can gain insight from building assets that are thoughtful and have inputs, such as what the concept is, what the value is, what the trigger point is, and what user segment you're looking at. Make sure the asset you build reflects the inputs. When you launch it, not only can the performance marketers see which ad is working better and scale it, the long-term brand builders will be able to see why it worked better and learn from it. This allows the short-term marketing efforts to help support the long-term brand building in a thoughtful, compatible, and effective way.
The best part is that it works the other way too. The branding team isn’t isolated in their ivory towers. Instead, they are in the trenches, helping to power the performance marketing team with more insights and more interesting collateral, whether it's video footage or other types of content that a lot of performance teams don't typically get. That’s one way the brand team can support the performance marketing team.
Both sides are equally useful, and they shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. You need to be doing both. But you’ll have to find out where the balance is because you only have finite resources. Rarely will you be a hundred percent on one side or the other, but the truth is, you're not always going to be at a 50/50 split either. The good news is that you don’t have to be.
The most important thing is that you recognize that both exist, so you can utilize them both effectively. You have two teams that you can use together in a mutually beneficial way that will make both of them stronger. Yet, at any given time, you do have to think about how much you are going to focus on long-term brand building and how much on short-term performance marketing. The balance will be different for each company and also will depend on where you are in your own growth journey.
Here at Ladder, we work with a lot of startup companies. We find that a lot of them are confused about where to put their marketing spend. Startup companies will naturally have to invest more in the short term. That's not a bad thing. But, you also have to recognize that the short term isn’t sustainable by itself and that you’ll want to start thinking about the bigger picture and start to develop long-term, strong brand awareness. You’ll need to look at your competition and define what a good brand looks like that will be successful in your market.
The bottom line is that marketers should always be analyzing the market and where they are in their journey to allow them to place more focus on one or the other. It isn’t about choosing sides. It’s about devoting more time and energy to what’s best for your growth at that moment.
Just as startups focus on the short term, the bigger a company gets, the more it should focus on the big picture and building its brand. This is typically how businesses run. It's why you don't see a lot of Coca-Cola ads on Facebook. But you do see their brand marketing because that’s what ultimately sustains them. That’s what they invest heavily in. Companies like Coca-Cola focus on brand-building activities to keep their market share or to keep incrementally growing more market share because they are already established. The key is to know which one is best for your company to invest in. Not sure where to start? Talk to one of our experienced strategists at Ladder today.
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