The ultimate balancing act: short-term and long-term results
Bram van Schaik
CEO Insights Division
We know more about the results of our marketing efforts than ever before. For a few years now, all marketers have daily access to sales figures, search, social, online clicks, and lots of other data. We no longer “just have to follow our intuition,” we can measure each and every one of our actions now. We of course had to get used to working like this after ages of just listening to our gut feelings, but you would think we had gained enough experience by now. We as marketers should be at the top of our games now, busy accomplishing effective growth.
But nothing could be further from the truth. The role of marketing is under pressure in a lot of organizations. The most important issue: Return on Investment (ROI). That is where the problem lies. Our worldwide BrandZ™ database shows that only a few brands are growing – so our marketing activities don’t seem to be leading to structural growth. Yes, every year BrandZ™ reports on brands that are moving up the ranks in value. But how many brands can keep this up for years upon years? Not that many. My colleague Nigel Hollis examined this thoroughly and found out that only 1 percent of all brands achieve sustained long-term structural growth. If you leave out the disruptors and tech firms, almost no brands remain. Action is a positive exception in the Netherlands, but given the period of time that they’ve been a major player on the retail stage, I still consider Action to be more of disruptor than an example of sustained structural growth.
What makes it so difficult?
It’s all about the balance, so it seems. Nigel’s analyses show that those brands that are growing know how to supplement the right customer experience with exposure and activation. There’s nothing new to this, but it is very difficult to do it in such a way that it helps you to build your brand and grow in a structured way. Long-term investing in your brand does pay off, though. To get the ROI discussion going, Nigel found some inspiring growth figures and principles for growth*. All your marketing activities have to reinforce each other. You must be consistent in everything you do – not only during a campaign or this one quarter, but over the years.
Most brands have started working with more agility in the last couple of years, so that they can more easily adjust to the demands of the ever-changing world in which they run their business. The growing use of data has made it easier to measure the results of our actions. But we are still inclined to act upon short-term hypotheses, since short-term data results the easiest to measure. Long-term effects are much more difficult to prove. As a result of this, we are all working on our own short-term goals in our own silos, losing sight of the long term. How often do the people who develop the brand promise in your organization talk to their Customer Experience colleagues? How many employees work in ways that reinforce your campaign? Is there anyone within your company who watches over brand consistency?
My plea? Keep on developing fact-based marketing. But please, give just as much weight to the long-term as to short-term decisions. And ask yourself: do you have the right data and the right prediction models to do this?
*Kantar 2019 report Mastering Momentum: www.millwardbrown.com/BrandGuidance/mastering-momentum