To see any form of reward, there has to be lock-in for the long term.
Short term is well and truly here. It is in abundance everywhere you look. I mentioned in a June article (on the need to action a community, not just build it), the mass of quick wins that are baying for our attention on Facebook to Instagram.
From Facebook ads telling me to write a book in a week to generate new business, to achieving 1,000 subscribers per day, we have the channels for churn but no long-term association. Even LinkedIn have jumped on Facebook to ask us to spend money with them. However, you don’t blame them when Google and Facebook control 20% of all media adspend worldwide (according to Zenith’s Top Thirty Global Media Owners).
A short-term outlook where the goal is predominantly scale only undermines a longer-term strategy, ultimately being seen as the source.
The Short Term Is Well And Truly Here
A report by the IPA, Les Binet and Peter Field (Campaign June 15th), highlighted the increase in the number of short-term campaigns since the global financial crisis a decade ago. The metrics were based on company profit, market share, loyalty, price sensitivity and penetration.
Since 2012, the biggest drop has been within market share and penetration. These findings coincided with a rise in the number of short-term campaigns (regarded as less than six months).
We have all been taken under the wing of quick projects that do not necessarily align with what a business does or believes in. Take for instance, the Pepsi ad from February. What about a different world where instead of a weak advert on social unrest, they took a longer-term stance to highlight social change or supporting deprived communities.
Immediacy Over Consistency
We have all been duped into the diversion of immediate numbers. Many businesses measure the wrong metric, where there is the ongoing pursuit of volume and reaching weekly/monthly quotas in order to buy more time.
Measurement should not be about how much content is created, but the value derived from it. Someone who is subscribed and continually engaged helps build an audience that leads to better action. We have to stop thinking that more random people visiting our spaces is a sign of success, but to create an asset that is called an audience. Not the continual chase for leads and emotionless participation (personified by every single response to this paid Instagram ad, below).
This has led to a world where the tables are turning from a 90-minute game of football and heading straight for the penalty shoot-out. A recent report by research company, Enders Analysis, highlighted the shorter tenure between brands and agencies. The average partnership fell from 86 months in 1984 to 30 months in 2013. Shorter-term arrangements are now prominent, or you can say that brands are taking control and agencies are just becoming the executioners of brand campaigns.
We all have to take some responsibility. The need to deliver short term wins for clients by showing people what they want to see (five minutes on Google Analytics can make any picture look buoyant). The constant chase for new platforms and channels to make everyone’s life easier and to take some form of differentiation brownie points. To promising quantity and volume rather than something more sustainable, have all helped to turn the conveyor belt to maximum speed so more just gets thrown out there.
What About You?
In the world of business, your whole objective is not about driving short-term results.
The solution has to be centred not on how much you can withdraw, but how many deposits you can continually make that supports your relevance within the marketplace you operate. The balance between long term and short term can work together.
As an example, when it comes to the short-term activity from my side these are the social posts, blog articles and the Thursday, You Are The Media weekly email. The longer-term connection is how this not only supports customer/subscriber growth, but how everything ties together for how the You Are The Media project manifests in 2018. The longer-term activity is supported by the short-term presence.
When all the short-term activity builds up, it helps formulate the full circuit that equates to the long run. Imagine your goal is building one giant Scalextric set, where everything links together. It is the long run that has resonance when all the smaller parts add up and all have meaning and character. This is how you get to a point when people choose you over others and when adding up, it all makes sense. It is the long-term view that is supported by the short-term commitment.
A business cannot bet on black and treat their communication as the John Lewis Christmas advert. This becomes a very risky strategy. This is where a business focuses everything on one activity, but is not supported by anything else within the media ecosystem or what the longer-term goal is intended to provide ie. stability of client base, growth of subscribers, a community of people who trust and ready to tell others about you.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, to recognise if you are ready for the long term or happy to tow the line and fall-in with everyone else with the short-termist approach.
Are You Using A Channel Just Because You Can?
Probably the most cost effective channel is email. This is why businesses abuse it by sending out soulless messages in the hope that someone else is going to think, ‘I better get in touch with them quick, that photo of the reception area with the logo behind the desk, is the kind of reception I want to be a part of!’ The only way to maintain long-term success is to engage and be engaging with others.
Are You Happy To Just Consume Or Is There The Spark To Create?
Reading and liking LinkedIn posts is one thing, but why be an empty participant when you can take the initiative and make an impact based on what you believe in and how your company can make an impact/assist other people. The channels available, enable you to have a voice and build an audience within it.
Is The World In Which You Present To Others Cold And Automated Or Open & Welcoming?
The ongoing conversations that help build community are centred from what you believe in and the marketplace you participate within. Alternatively, something is put out there from a timed action and when someone wants to pick up, the response is empty ie. the automatic email when someone subscribes. You have to create a resonance in someone else that says something about your life.
Do You See Others As Connections Or Transactions?
Success is measured on the meaningful interactions you have with other people. This has not changed since man figured out how to make a fire. If you can create, you have more of an ability to connect. When you look at other people as transactions this is when you put everyone in the same basket and address with the same tone, but have that sense of achievement when the mail merge print out puts someone’s first name (‘Dear Karen’ in Helvetica) as the stamp of personalisation.
Can You Be Bothered To Participate?
The more you engage and participate, the more your audience will want to come on board too. I have got to know people a lot better off the back of the Marketing Homebrew podcast, through to the You Are The Media Lunch Club. I like it when someone comes over and we have a beer on the office roof. Whether this is about building trust quicker, by making the opportunity to converse easier, when you are ready to get involved, week in, week out, this helps build the longer term track.
Do Facebook Points Mean A Lot To You?
Are you more comfortable being liked by strangers or having something to say that resonates with people who matter? The last time I looked, Facebook points did not acquaint to anything. You can’t become sidetracked within a virtual popularity game, rather than try to build a direct relationship with people who have subscribed. Having real interactions with people, can’t be about bumping up numbers, it is about creating and publishing content that makes you worthy of following, liking and retweeting.
Lets Round Up With A Quick Analogy
To make an impact is to commit to the long haul. It is like a wave breaking on a beach. If you add momentum it can make an impact when it reaches the shore, or it can be pretty lack lustre and fade out with a whimper as it touches the sand.
When you lock yourself down for the long term, you can radiate outwards like the wave to a wider surface area. Whilst it takes time to build from a few miles out, when you make an impact, you can repeat and the process becomes easier.
Understanding the role you serve to a marketplace, the values you hold closely, building your message and growing your audience take time, but it can deliver significant value over the long term. It is just a case of putting in the work.