We live in a fast-paced, consumer-centric world where instant gratification is not just easy, it’s the norm. And because of that, it’s just as easy to overlook the importance of planning for the future. While doing that normally comes at the expense of instant gratification, it normally guarantees more long-term gratification & security further down the line. After all, there’s a reason that some life lessons are immemorial: saving a certain percentage of your salary; investing (sensibly); not spending what you don’t have; clearing the debt for spending what you didn’t have; eating healthily; exercising; reading & learning; buying nice, rather than buying twice… The list is endless, & with good reason: looking after ‘Future You’ is a discipline that time & again has shown to be a worthwhile one. For marketers, the question begs then, why do we accept (even if we don’t apply) these principles to our personal lives, but not to our professional ones?
When you think about it, the provable & underlying principles of marketing & growth focus on a mixture of short-term & long-term strategies. If you’re in any doubt, look no further than Les Binet’s evidence on the matter. But for many marketing teams, the short-term is continually prioritised over the long-term; because instant gratification – in the form of sales – is within reach, & usually easier to attain. But not all sales are sustainable.
Building Brand Equity is an Investment Not a Cost
The obvious benefit of investments is that they normally pay off at a greater multiple the longer they’re held. They also pay off more, the more you invest. And it’s as true of investing your own money as it is your marketing budget. Long-term marketing strategies typically focus on building brand equity which pays itself off over the medium to long-term in sales, even if the immediate results are ethereal or even non-existent. By consistently investing in building brand awareness, brand perception, & customer loyalty, B2B companies can differentiate themselves from short-term minded competitors & establish a strong market presence that crucially is resilient to market conditions & the competition. Specifically, according to a recent study by Forbes, companies that prioritise brand equity see a higher customer retention rate & increased customer lifetime value. And as the old saying goes, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than acquire a new one. Which brings us to our second analogy…
Your Customers are a Barometer for Your Company Health, so Look After Them
Most of us take our health for granted, until it declines. So, thinking about your customer retention & satisfaction as a representation of your company’s health (alongside the typical financial & talent measures) is perfectly analogous: too many companies stop investing in a customer once they acquire them. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies that allocate a larger portion of their marketing budget to long-term strategies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) & personalised communication, experience higher revenue growth rates. Much like exercising & eating well, truly taking care of your customers might not be as exhilarating as getting new ones, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Learning Leads to Earning
Just as learning & self-development is important to everyone’s wellbeing, the same is true for companies. The pursuit of knowledge & insight into customers, the competition & the broader trends at play is critical to growth. Just as books expand our understanding of a subject, taking the time to find & understand our customers offer invaluable glimpses into their preferences & needs. Customer & competitor insights empower companies to make informed decisions, tailor offerings, & forge stronger connections with their audience. Just as reading imparts wisdom & empathy, embracing customer insights leads to smarter choices & a deeper understanding of customers’ lives.
While it may be tempting to prioritise short-term gains, B2B marketers must recognise the power of long-term marketing investments. By building brand equity, driving sustainable growth, & understanding the competition & customers better, companies can position themselves favourably in the market & safeguard their growth. It’s time the marketing industry embraced the patience & commitment required for long-term marketing strategies, because much like in our personal lives – our future us, will thank us.