I often meet prospective clients that want marketing strategies with quick results. The conversation goes,
“We launched a couple of weeks ago and we need to get customers quickly.”
“OK…who is your target customer?”
“Everyone! We have a great product.”
Regardless of how amazing it might sound, not everyone is your target customer. Understanding and engaging the right customer is crucial. Particularly in B2B marketing, short-term marketing strategies are less effective. This is partly because there isn’t enough learning and understanding of the target customer.
Successful B2B marketing is twice as likely to follow a long-term strategy. The main drivers for its effectiveness are customer targeting, crafting a relevant value proposition followed by creating engaging content.
At Doqaru, we approach marketing strategy with the long-term in mind. However, we cannot ignore the enormous pressure on business owners and marketing teams to deliver results quickly. It’s a constant challenge to balance the short-term with long-term success.
Let’s face it – businesses need results now! But every business owner also wants sustainable business impact that allows relationships to flourish and revenue to grow over time.
One of our IT clients got a new customer through a blog post shared on LinkedIn. It’s a big deal because it was the first sale that the company could attribute directly to blogging. The client’s blogging journey was in its 10th month. That’s how long it took to make the sale but the new customer admitted that they’d been reading our client’s blogs for many months and finally made an enquiry.
Long-term Strategies are Effective But They Take Time
Studies show that long-term strategies are more effective at supporting profitability, revenue and market share goals. There’s also evidence that businesses are more likely to achieve their marketing goals. This is particularly true when marketers allow marketing campaigns to run for at least six months before deciding whether it is effective. In the case of our IT client, it took 10 months. The size of the deal more than paid for the months of blogging. Months of following our client’s blogs created trust and credibility in the mind of the new customer.
The graphs below show the changes in long-term content strategies between 2015 and 2018. Videos and long-form content such as eBooks/white papers are becoming more prominent.
Long-term vs Short-term Marketing Strategies
Successful marketers (those who say they outperformed their competition) allocate over half of their budget to long-term marketing goals (more than 6 months). The mentality of the business owners in successful companies is to build, experiment and make changes – not to cut and run.
So, while the marketing strategy is long-term, successful marketing strategies operate on regular feedback loops. We make some assumptions at the start based on our understanding of the customer. Then we try a few things and wait for the feedback. The feedback helps us make changes to our assumptions – then we test again.
We work with an HR consultant who writes great content on a variety of employee relations and leadership topics. Over the last few months, we experimented with different themes based on the consultant’s ideal customer profiles. Her customers included business owners, HR Directors and Technical Line Managers.
We noticed leadership-focused topics generated more engagement, particularly when it addressed former senior engineers who now found themselves in team leadership roles. This discovery allowed us to review the content we created, crafting new themes that targeted audience members from technical backgrounds. It took us running the consultant’s blogging campaign for 8 months to identify and apply the feedback effectively. That client has increased email subscribers by 15% over the last year.
Short-Term Marketing Strategies Should Support the Long-Term View
Still, short-term marketing is widespread. Studies show that this has a negative impact on brand awareness, the share of voice and profitability. A recent article in Marketing Week reveals that less than 25% of B2B marketers say that they run campaigns for over six months. Despite typically long sales cycles in B2B markets, marketing campaigns end before the average sales cycle comes to fruition.
Therefore, sales and marketing teams are not around the customer’s buying journey long enough to see it through. It’s no wonder that their marketing campaigns are ineffective.
Indeed, one of the biggest challenges for businesses is finding a balance. It’s hard to make a 12-month business case whilst trying to hit revenue figures month after month. When it comes to the wire, marketing dollars often go to paid ads to create more sales leads and less investment goes to activities like content marketing and relationship building.
There’s a place for “instant” results – don’t get me wrong. But if your business goal is to build a pipeline of clients for years to come, short-term just doesn’t cut it.
At Doqaru, we are very much about the long-term. Short-term or tactical marketing is part of what we do but we always keep our clients’ mind on the long-term. We ask how the short-term supports the long-term view. If we can answer this, we proceed. If we cannot, we pause and ask for feedback to allow our next steps to be purposeful.
B2B marketing leaders who stand out in the future will balance these two factors: the long and the quick. We hope that we continue to do this for our esteemed clients. We are always learning.
How are you managing short-term pressures with long-term goals? What regular feedback loops do you have in place to enhance long-term success?