Marketing And The Fallacy Of Short-Term Selling

Most marketers assume that, if you look after the short-term, the long-term will look after itself. But this is dangerously wrong. The key is to understand that marketing works in two very different ways.

Sales activation aims to get an immediate behavioral response. This is the world of performance marketing, promotions, and much digital activity. Activation requires tight targeting, relevant and motivating messages, and a focus on getting close attention and an immediate response. This is good for short-term selling, and ROIs can be high. But the effects don’t last long, and do little to foster long term growth.

For that, you need brand building. Brand activity creates long-term memories, associations and habits which influence consumers for years to come. This is a harder job. It requires much broader reach, and repeated exposure. It mainly works at low attention, and so explicit messages are less effective than emotional priming. But brand building is ultimately more effective, because the effects last longer and accumulate over time. Brand building also reduces price sensitivity and increases margins. As a result, brand is the main driver of long-term growth and profit.

Businesses need both. They need brand activity to create demand, and they need activation to convert demand efficiently into cash. When the balance is right, each enhances the other. But brand building is always the primary driver. Short-term selling is never enough.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Les Binet and Peter Field, Authors of “Effectiveness in Context”, the new report on how to balance short and long term for your brand. Based on an exhaustive analysis of hundreds of campaigns from around the world, it shows how to fine-tune the marketing mix to maximize growth, profit and ROI.

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