What Is the Difference Between Short-term and Long-term Marketing Strategies?

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There are many things to consider when deciding on a marketing strategy. But, there are some key things you need to understand and consider before you ask yourself “do I want to bet on quick, short-term growth or take the slower long-term growth route?”

What are the differences between a short-term and a long-term marketing strategy?

Short-term marketing strategy is also known as transactional marketing. It has to do with quick business wins and goals that are achievable on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Your goal with short-term marketing is to achieve revenue-centric outcomes, which means they are almost immediate—e.g., leads and short-term sales.

Some examples of short-term tactics include PPC (pay-per-click), social media ads and coupons or promo codes, among others. These are tactics than can be implemented quickly and generate quick results. Some campaigns, like those on social media, can also need long-term strategies.

We could say that a long-term marketing plan is made up of a bunch of short-term tactics geared towards a similar goal, which is to help your business maintain positive results so it can grow horizontally (over time) as well as vertically (in terms of profit). They usually fall anywhere between six months and a year or more. Some examples include any campaigns that involve establishing your brand, generating brand recognition or brand awareness, “big-picture” social media presence, Search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing.

So, what is better?

Ideally, you would want a balance between both.

Quick results from short-term marketing plans can be positive, but also temporary; as part of a long-term marketing plan, short-term tactics help generate sustainable growth. At the end of the day, it depends on your specific company goals and budget.

That’s why the first step to deciding what kind of plan you need (and where to focus your energy and time) is not only to have a clear understanding of your business’ purpose and goals, but also of what consumers need and even don’t know they need from your company.

A good resource to begin to ask the right questions is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, a model created to help business leaders identify the right consumers and define a growth path “to turn an idea into a social movement.” The idea behind the program is to learn how to inspire people (your target audience) instead of manipulating them in order to motivate them to continue to advocate for your brand or product.

While asking the right questions regarding your target audience you should also consider both short-term and long-term business goals. Having a hybrid approach to your marketing strategy is the best way to ensure you don’t fall into short-term marketing traps—such as back-to-back promotions—or dismiss a short-term win for a long-term marketing strategy, and vice versa. Implementing a short-term marketing plan is great for generating quick sales and conversions for short periods of time, but the goal should always be to use it in a way that helps you reach your long-term goals. At the same time, consider that growing always involves learning, and you need a long-term plan that will give you the time to understand what works and what doesn’t.

At the end of the day, great marketing consists of taking all aspects of a plan into considerations. As Allan Dib states in his book The 1-Page Marketing Plan:

“If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go to the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales. And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.”

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