Short-term v. Long-term Marketing Strategies: Which is Better?

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We live in a world of instant gratification: online shopping with same-day delivery; movies that stream on-demand; and smartphone apps that summon everything from groceries to taxis, all with a few taps of our finger. We don’t even like waiting a few extra seconds for a page to load. (Just half a second of lag time can increase your bounce rate.) As a marketer, it’s only natural that you want to deliver instant results, too. A clever video that goes viral overnight. A Facebook campaign that quadruples your fan base in less than a day. A quick SEO tweak that takes your website to the top of Google’s search results. Wouldn’t it be great if you could snap your fingers and deliver a quick win for your company?

You can. Really. But – and this is a big but – a short-term win won’t last forever if you don’t have the long-term strategy to back it up. Short and long-term marketing strategies go together like two puzzle pieces: you can’t see the big picture if you don’t have both in place.

That’s why when clients ask, “Do I need a short-term and long-term inbound marketing strategy?” the answer is always an unequivocal “yes”. And no, one isn’t better than the other. You need them both.

When you need “instant” results… short-term social media strategy to the rescue!

Even if you know that long-term gains require a long-term marketing campaign strategy, you may still be under pressure from you boss to deliver instant results. That’s where a short-term strategy comes into play. With a short-term strategy you can deliver those quick wins that spike engagement and traffic. For example, we recently worked with a client who was struggling to build social media traction. Despite frequent Facebook posts, they still had a limited following and even less engagement. They needed a big push to get over this initial hump.

We set up a Facebook contest to translate the client’s offline following into online enthusiasm and engagement. The client went from just a few hundred likes to more than 1,000 in less than a month. The contest generated 1,960 visitors in 30 days with a 65 percent participation rate. That was a huge jump from the usual monthly reach Now that we’ve built this base, our next step is a long-term social strategy to keep these followers engaged and continue qualified prospects through the sales funnel.

When you need to build a pipeline that generates clients for years to come… invest in a long-term marketing strategy.

While an immediate bump in visibility is great, this spike is superficial if you can’t sustain it in the long run. The goal of inbound marketing is to generate more qualified leads while you do less and less legwork. Essentially, you’re investing in a strategy that will generate results for years to come. This starts by making your business visible. Investing in a long-term SEO strategy, for example, will eventually get your business to the top of search results and, most importantly, keep it there. We spent a year working with one of our clients to bring them to the top of their industry. In just six months, organic visits jumped from 510 to 4800+.

The case for a short-term and long-term marketing strategy.

A comprehensive B2B digital marketing plan needs a combination of tactics to be successful. There’s social media, content marketing (covering video, blog, design pieces and more), email marketing and SEO. Depending on your company’s market position and prospect needs, you may need to focus your efforts on one of these tactics more than another. Your strategy may shift throughout the year as prospects move through the sales funnel or new needs arise, like strengthening client retention or referral programs. This same approach applies to short and long-term strategies: you need a combination of both to succeed. Too much focus on short-term gains without a plan to retain these gains over the long run will lead to quick but fleeting spikes. The same problem can occur with companies too focused on the long-term strategy. You’re investing all your resources in an SEO strategy that will pay off in 12 months but aren’t getting any prospects into your pipeline that can convert now.

In our next post, we’ll cover the building blocks for an effective digital strategy that encompasses both short-term gains and long-term investments.

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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