How to think long term with your marketing strategy

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Every business goes through its ups and downs, whether due to internal problems, market changes, or large-scale disasters that impact on the business. This means that in the short term, you may be hit by problems and even crises.

For this reason, when it comes to marketing it is important not to think short-term, but rather come up with a long-term strategy that will allow you to weather these storms and have strong marketing plans in place for your business to flourish over time.

Here is how you can think long-term with your business’ marketing strategy.

Look at the Big Picture

In order to maintain a long-term view with your marketing strategy, it is critical to keep the big picture in mind at all times. Define your business’ ultimate vision and long-term goals, and always keep these in the forefront of everything you do. Your marketing goals should closely relate to, and contribute to your overall business goals.

These long-term goals and big picture vision will help you know what action you need to take today. Everything you do should be appropriate to where you are now and the immediate situation, but should also be a step on the path to your ultimate vision.

Translate your Vision to the Short-Term

Once you have determined your long-term vision, you need to work out the steps you should take in the short term to get you there in the future. Each long-term goal should be broken down into short-term goals and objectives, which form the steps on your path.

When setting goals think “SMART”. That is, your goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and timely. In setting your goals, be sure to also consider where your marketing is right now so that you can determine the appropriate next step. Take an audit of how your marketing is tracking, analyzing factors such as your social media following and website traffic, to be able to set the most appropriate short-term goals.

Think About What Could Be, Rather than What is

Short-term thinkers tend to focus on the world as it is: the current situation, and what others (such as their competitors) are doing right now. Long-term thinkers, on the other hand, look at the world as it could be, and come up with ideas and strategies that take things to another level.

Rather than simply replicating what your competitors are doing, think about new and innovative marketing tactics that could set your business apart. Come up with creative marketing strategies like Stickerit die-cut stickers, sidewalk art, and innovative online content. This may mean going out on a limb and being controversial. Often, this can get you criticism in the short term, but will deliver great results in the long-term.

Be Consistent in Your Message

Consistent messaging is crucial. This keeps your marketing strategy consistent over the long term, as well as making sure that all your marketing efforts contribute to meeting your overall goals. Be sure that you have a clear message as part of your marketing strategy, and that you consistently and frequently broadcast it to your audience.

You should have a formal messaging strategy that sets out who your business is and what they can do for your target audience. What is the problem that you solve for your customer? Make sure this clearly comes across in all of your content and materials, and that communicate it frequently enough to your audience. Remember the rule of seven: the average consumer needs to hear about you seven times before they will buy from you .

Leverage Your Network

Another key part of a long-term marketing strategy is opening up to outsiders. Keeping the focus on only internal resources and ideas is short-term thinking and can greatly limit both the reach and the effectiveness of your strategy.

For an effective, long-term marketing strategy it is important to open up your efforts in a couple of ways. Firstly, seek out customer ideas and feedback:  ask your customers what they think through interviews and surveys, and watch what they’re saying on social media. Your customers know your product almost as well as you, and know your market better, and so are one of your greatest resources.

Secondly, you should harness the power of your community. Rather than limiting your marketing to just content and materials that you produce, have your customers and your audience market your business for you. This could be something like running a social media contest where users tag your business or share your post, effectively becoming agents within your marketing strategy.