I think it’s pretty typical for business leaders to expect their marketing programs to produce results sooner than they often do. And that can lead to some bad decisions, like giving up on a campaign and turning it off just before it actually starts to produce the results that it was desined to produce. I’ve found that a useful way to think about this is to consider your marketing activities like a financial portfolio, with different elements to do different things to acheive different results.
You need to have stocks. In marketing, that’s your long-term investments that have high growth potential but take time to mature and deliver. Examples are your brand, your content program, your SEO, and even your customer advocacy – developing customers to be a champion for you. I have a good friend who calls these the “cruise ship metrics”. They take a long time and they tend to move slowly, but in the end, they can deliver in a big way.
You also need to balance those with more reliable returns. They might still be long-term investments, but they typically can be pay-to-play. Or you can more reliably expect an immediate and regular result from them. An example is digital advertising – Google ads or any advertising (actually, not any advertising. Some advertising is long-term), you know, pay-to-play advertising campaigns that you might put in place to target a specific audience in a very specific period of time to get a specific result to move your business forward. So these bond-type marketing programs, they’re often not the core, the significant growth that’s going to take your business where it needs to go, but to help support that effort and give you that reliability over time.
And then there are also your “cash” marketing investments. These are your opportunistic tactics, the things that might come up out of the blue and you want to take a chance on, or frankly, you might just want to try something to see what happens. If you balance your marketing portfolio with long-term investments and reliable programs, you can afford to take a chance to spend some “fun money” on marketing tactics that could open up a whole new opportunity for you in the short term. This gives you the opportunity to be responsive to your market.
So with a well-balanced marketing portfolio, you can have the best of both worlds. You can get those near-term results that you need to move your business forward now while planting the seeds for the larger, long-term growth that you are capable of.