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Plan for the Marathon, Be Ready for the Sprint: Long- and Short-Term Marketing Strategies

In business we’re surrounded with advice about planning. We’re told planning is everything, plan for success, and failing to plan is planning to fail. So it makes sense that the logic of foresight would carry over to marketing. And in many cases those axioms hold true, but with the fast-paced nature of our world, we also must be prepared to sprint when the opportunity arises. The challenge is tying the long-term and short-term strategies together.

The Marathon

The goal of the long-term marketing strategy is to build. Building your brand, building your business and building customer relationships. Long term is about envisioning what you want for your brand in three to five years and creating a road map to get there. Starting with understanding your marketplace and customers and learning how to reach those customers. Once you’ve spent the necessary time defining your audience, you can create marketing content that regularly addresses the target demographic.

Your long-term marketing campaign should include pieces that put you in front of customers and prospects to establish a relationship and strengthen trust. Depending on the nature of your product and customers, you may be able to successfully build brand awareness through traditional media such as print ads, billboards and direct mail. Additionally, public relations strategies that include feature articles and press releases work well to help you deepen the relationship with your customers. In terms of new media, blogs, social media, e-Newsletters and SEO play a large role in staying in front of prospects and building an expert reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

A carefully executed long-term strategy will put you front of mind with your prospects when you employ short-term campaigns.

The Sprint

Short-term campaigns are designed to prompt customers and prospects to act. To buy your product or engage your service. These campaigns may be determined by seasonal buying behaviors or purchasing cycles. You can plan to factor these cyclical events into your strategy each year. Sprint campaigns may also be driven by less predictable events such as sudden market changes or emerging trends. When these events arise, your marketing organization must be agile enough to respond and execute a campaign quickly in order to capitalize on each opportunity as it arises.

These campaigns can take on a variety of forms. New product pushes, seasonal promotions and special pricing are all part of short-term campaigns. The common denominator within these campaigns is that they must communicate an offer or selling point attractive enough to motivate your audience. The same channels you’ve employed to establish your brand can be used to push out your short-term messaging.

Blending the Marathon and the Sprint

Both long-term and short-term strategies need to work together to be effective. The execution of each should stay true to your established brand and company goals. When forming your long-term strategy leave room in your plan and budget for short-term campaigns, both those you can anticipate as well as unforeseen opportunities. And when executing your short-term campaigns, stay true to the objectives you established in your long-term plan.

If done poorly either strategy can undermine the other. A short-term campaign that strays from your overarching strategy could detract from your brand equity. A long-term campaign that doesn’t effectively establish audience relationships can leave short-term campaigns to fall flat. When done well, both elements of your overall marketing strategy can work together to strengthen your brand and drive business results.

Picture of Eliza Green
Eliza Green
Passionate about all aspects of content, Eliza has spent much of her career building an understanding of the nuanced needs of various audiences across nearly every vertical imaginable. She leverages this understanding to bring compelling, engaging content to pages of both the digital and print persuasion.