At the risk of repeating myself, marketing and growing a brand is a marathon and not a sprint. However, a successful marketing strategy will always include a mix of long-term and short-term marketing tactics like social media marketing and Google Ads.
Whether you call it long-term & short-term marketing, brand & transactional marketing, top & bottom of the funnel or transactional & relationship marketing – both have the potential to take your business to new heights.
But to make it work it’s important to understand the difference between them and how each of them helps you achieve your goals.
Let’s explore what these two approaches look like and how you can succeed by utilising both!
Short-Term Marketing: Lead Generation & Sales
Short-term tactics are the sorts of things you see everywhere and because of that visibility, people tend to think that that’s all that marketing is about.
Here are some common examples:
- Special offers & sales – Boxing Day, January, Summer, etc.
- Paid ads on Google or social media platforms
- Television, radio or print ads
- Email shots & leaflet drops
The thing that each of these tactics have in common is that they are designed to generate quick results. It’s one of the reasons they fall into the category called ‘direct marketing’. They can be turned on and off as you see fit and have a clear call-to-action, encouraging sales and lead generation.
For example, are you thinking about running a Facebook ad for your new product? You’ll need to allocate a budget, set up a target audience, write some copy, select an image or video and choose a call to action, all of which is quick and easy to do. The ad can then be turned live and run for as many days or weeks as you like.
Paying for an advert in a magazine? You’ll pay for your slot for an agreed period of time. This could be for one issue at a time, allowing you time to assess the impact it has had.
And launching a sale? If you’re having a quiet period, this can be launched immediately. And while every quiet spell doesn’t necessarily require you to start slashing prices, when the time calls for it, this can start bringing in sales quickly.
Not sure if this would work for you? Find out more about the pros and cons of direct marketing for small businesses.
Long-Term Marketing: Brand Awareness & Loyalty
Long-term marketing is a whole other beast! This is the slower, but consistent side of growing your business. And it’s the key to your ongoing success as a small business as it creates a solid baseline of sales or leads.
Again, let’s look at some examples:
- Creating a unique brand & USP
- Optimising your website & blog for SEO
- Building an engaged mailing list
- Attending online & in-person networking events
- Posting regularly on social media
- Keeping in touch with existing customers
Do you see the difference? None of these things are going to be an overnight success. Unless you have a four-leaf clover in your pocket, it is highly likely that your website isn’t going to generate thousands of clicks in its first month. Your social media accounts won’t attract thousands of engaged followers in a week, and you aren’t going to have hundreds of sign-ups for your mailing list on day one.
All of these things take time. But over time, they will deliver a regular stream of new and repeat business. And that makes them the fundamental building block of any successful small business marketing strategy.
What does this look like day-to-day?
Take networking, for example. Especially in the early days, when your business is new, getting out there and talking to people about it is essential! When you attend networking events, it allows you to start building a group of contacts who, even if they don’t require your product or service themselves, have a whole network of their own to pass your details to.
So while you might not get any new clients from the first two or three you attend, within six months or a year of regularly attending, the word about your brand will have spread far further than that one room. Contacts you meet there and connect with on LinkedIn can share your post to their own hundreds of followers. It’s a slow burn, but crucial for long-term success.
This goes for building an audience on social media, too. Of course, it’s disheartening when your first few posts get barely any interaction. And the temptation to click that boost button and pay for an ad to see the likes coming in is strong!
But sharing organic content to connect with your audience is crucial. That trust you’ll develop can’t be gained in one or two posts. You’ve got to play the long game. And it’s so worth it when those genuine likes, comments and shares start to appear.
Applying this to your own marketing
While there is no hard and fast rule on the right mix for your short-term and long-term marketing tactics (and the amount of short-term marketing you’re doing is likely to vary over time), here’s a baseline suggestion for small businesses like yours.
Aim for 70% of your strategy to be focused on the long term and 30% on the short. Short-term marketing is almost entirely focused on people who are already ready to buy. Sales and Google Ads will reach people who are already searching for your product or service.
And while this is great, it misses out on a huge pool of potential customers who simply aren’t there yet. And to make those people aware of you and realise how much they need you, you need a long-term approach. (I’ve written an entire post on how to reach ALL your potential customers with your marketing, which I’ll link here.)
That’s why it’s important to focus on engaging with these potential customers early on, building a relationship through long-time tactics like organic social media, your blog or your mailing list. It generates trust and brand awareness – which is worth its weight in gold when you’re their first port of call as soon as they’re ready to buy.
So make time every week to engage in your long-term marketing strategies. Book those networking event tickets, spend time engaging on social media, and don’t leave months between blog posts. And every now and then, when things need a boost, use one of your short-term tactics to help you out. In doing that, you’ll strike the perfect balance.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Marketing Strategy vs. Marketing Tactics
Why Business is Quiet and How to Turn Things Around
10 Important Dates to Note in your Small Business Marketing Calendar
Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: Why You Need One & How to Define it