When all that everyone wants is for business to come through the door right now, right now is all that anyone is planning for.
But short term plans only achieve short term results. Campaigns that only focus on ‘now’ won’t ever achieve real growth in the future.
There’s a straightforward answer, but it’s not a straightforward challenge:
Appeal to people in the long term, activate them in the short term.
This simple Brand Clear tool gives you an easy reference on what this should look like, whether you’re in B2B or B2C.
Download tool here.
To appeal to people in the long term, you need to use emotional messages – because we’re far better at recalling feelings than remembering features.
Rational messages (price cuts, numerical benefits, product comparisons) work well at getting people over the line, but they don’t have the impact to reach beyond your existing audience.
Emotional messaging means understanding your market so deeply that you genuinely grasp the pain they’re suffering, the desire they have or the relief that they want to find.
Then you turn that understanding into messages that promise an emotional outcome – from relieving stress to overcoming fear or celebrating joy.
This is the process of building brand awareness, or association. It’s how you capture new audiences, create a perception of value and begin to establish the familiarity that people need in order to trust that you can deliver on your promises.
None of your long term messages will be designed to achieve an instant (or even short term) outcome. Emotional messages don’t make sales. They make prospects.
But who would invest 60% of all their marketing resources, effort and money into activity that doesn’t even pay off?
Answer: A smart organisation that wants to build a clear and lasting brand.
The reason is obvious: Do you want to spend all your energy on convincing a small group of people to buy from you, or expand that group with many more people who have already made a positive connection with your product or service?
Put simply, a long term focus creates more opportunities. The remaining 40% of your activity is then dedicated to turning those opportunities into customers.
For B2C, the perfect blend is 60% long term brand building and 40% short term activation (more on the research below).
For B2B, it’s a little different…
Download tool here.
As you’ll hear a dozen times a day, B2B marketing is still humans talking to humans. So emotional and personal messaging will always have a significant value.
But nobody likes losing their job, being judged by colleagues or reprimanded by superiors. Which means people need a little more rationality in your marketing in order to provide the evidence that gets the contract signed.
Even in this situation, though, don’t underestimate the blend – nearly half of everything that B2B marketers do should be activity that will not create short term results.
What would 46% (or even 60%) look like in your business if it was switched from tomorrow’s sales efforts and invested in next year’s momentum?
If it’s hard to imagine what this looks like in practice, think about this simple situation:
Setting: We’re a HR services provider that relies on referral business and reviews results every 6 and 12 months
Marketing: 100% focused on sales, for instance including time-based offers, referral discounts and free initial consultations
Exposure: Limited to the people we meet, the people we’re connected to and the people who are already aware of our brand and services
Potential for growth: Entirely dependent on resource investment (e.g. our people’s time to network, size of existing client base), and the appetite for our service among an existing audience
Now imagine the organisation embraces a better blend of long and short term planning:
Setting: Our HR services are unchanged, but we now review results on a 6, 12, 24 and 36 month basis to give longer understanding of outcomes
46% Emotional messaging, e.g.
- Advertising that connects to the biggest pain felt by our perfect client, to build awareness
- Blogs that provide answers to the challenges and anxieties of those clients, to demonstrate our expertise and relevance
- Sponsorship of celebratory events in line with the goals of those clients, to build our authority
54% Rational messaging, e.g.
- Landing pages that back up the promises we make in advertising through detailed features and benefits
- Email campaigns that target attendees to the events we sponsored, and who opted-in for more info on our services
- Case studies with clear breakdowns of the benefits gained by our existing clients
- Offers and discounts targeted to prospects who respond to ongoing longer term messages, like reading our blogs
Short term – The people we meet, the people we’re connected to and the people who are already aware of our brand and services
Long term – The people who experience the challenges we solve, the businesses who have the pains we can help with, and those who share the values of the events we sponsor
Potential for growth: In the immediate future, our growth won’t change much, and will still be dependent on us investing our resources directly.
But over time we’ll be priming a wider audience of people that we could ever reach before with a positive association to our brand, creating an expanding pool of aware and interested prospects.
As a result, our short term efforts will have more raw material (prospects) to work with. All things being equal, this should naturally increase the number of people we convert into customers.
Even better, because our long term messaging can be consistent and stays relevant for longer, the process continues to create new prospects while we keep our short term sales messages fresh.
You see? It’s possible to achieve short term success without long term planning. But you can’t create sustainable long term growth with a short term focus.
Perhaps you need more than just a PDF to convince you to drop short term thinking and embrace the slower burn.
Well, the proof is out there – this tool is based on significant research by two respected marketing academics, Les Binet and Peter Field.
Here are some highlights:
Campaigns with a short term (i.e. sales activation) focus deliver less share growth
- Over 1-2 years: 14% of short term campaigns achieve very large growth vs 22% of long term campaigns
- 3 or more years: 14% of short term campaigns achieve very large growth vs 45% of long term campaigns
(The Long and Short of it, Pg 28)
TDA Teacher Recruitment case study
- Creating a long term campaign rooted in emotional messaging increased enquiries and applications by 20%
(The Long and Short of it, Pg 51)
Emotional campaigns build profit effects over years (not months)
- 1 year period: Rational 10% impact on profit vs Emotional 13% impact
- 2 year period: Rational 20% impact on profit vs Emotional 30% impact
- 3 year period: Rational 23% impact on profit vs Emotional 43% impact
So, long term, emotional campaigns are almost twice as likely to result in profit growth.
(The Long and Short of it, Pg 53)
The full report is packed with eye-opening research that clearly demonstrates the benefits of balancing long and short term marketing strategies. See it all at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s website.
For a final word we turn to Binet and Field’s most valuable quote:
“People who are not actively engaged in purchasing tend to screen out rational messages, but emotional influences are much less likely to be filtered”
(The Long and Short of it, Pg 56)
If you’d like to know more about finding your perfect brand blend, ask away to firstname.lastname@example.org