Let's face it, as much as business leaders wish one existed, there is no “quick fix” when it comes to marketing.
There is no silver bullet, no single strategy that will make sales explode. Instead, marketing success results from incremental strategies that align with objectives and are executed through effective tactics.
In the end, the investment in marketing has as much to do with time as it does money.
The Money + Time Conundrum
Over and over, I visit with C-level executives who view marketing as an expense, full stop. It’s fair that they’re seeking validation for the "money out" and looking for the marketing budget's return on investment.
While it makes sense to justify spending and keep a balanced budget, there is so much more to marketing than a simple crunch of the numbers. It’s not only a transaction consisting of dollars and cents.
There’s yet another wrinkle in the marketing conundrum… Time.
The business leaders I talk to reveal a common hesitation. It’s the thought of spending all that time. Ten weeks seems like an eternity. But, there’s immense value in “thinking time.”
If you don’t have 10 weeks to think about your marketing, you shouldn’t spend a penny on marketing.
Transactional vs. Relational Marketing Perspectives
Marketing is not—and will never be—an exact science. Instead, it is a blend of both art and science, making its measurement qualitative and quantitative. That means that viewing marketing as a single transaction is not a true representation of its function.
For example, a transactional relationship is when you make a purchase. You hand over cash and receive a product or service—and that is it. The relationship on both ends served its purpose, and there is no longer a common thread or reason to hang onto the connection.
The opposite of a transactional relationship is a relational relationship. Instead of serving one purpose and one meaningful exchange, it’s about creating and nurturing a long-term connection that provides ongoing value.
When applied to a marketing function, this is about executing a long-term marketing strategy that adds value over time. The investment is not about one action and its immediate return.
Transactions, Strategies, and Tactics
Oftentimes, viewing marketing as transactional stems from looking at the tactical execution of a marketing plan. For example, let’s say you’re executing an Instagram campaign—with the ultimate goal of creating awareness for your brand. But, when a paid Instagram campaign is deployed, it’s first viewed at the tactical level.
If you pay X dollars for an Instagram post and it brings in X new likes, X clicks, and X conversions, it seems as though the campaign spend should be less than the amount made through conversions. However, the true value in the campaign is not just at the quantifiable level of conversions achieved through tactical execution.
The campaign's value combines the views, clicks, and conversions—blended with the lasting value of the newly-acquired audience (that may be considering a click but did not click through quite yet). So, on a higher level, the social campaign strategy is worth more than the dollars spent for the paid campaign—but the immediate dollar value may not reflect its full impact on brand building.
Patience Is Always a Virtue (But Especially in Marketing)
Think about what happens when a plan doesn't seem to be working and is abandoned before real results are achieved. To illustrate this point, think about a PR approach when a company creates a public relations campaign and secures one big hit. This could be a feature in Forbes or a quote in The Wall Street Journal.
The feature or quote will likely be promoted through a blog post or social media. But, that is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the time to gain some momentum as part of an ongoing strategy, to promote the feature across various channels that can be picked up by additional publishers.
“There’s yet another wrinkle in the marketing conundrum.”
However, if the single hit was treated in isolation, the excitement will fade quickly. Without a cross-channel strategy to support it, the shelf-life will be short. Spreading the value of your owned content is efficient and powerful brand building.
This is an example of how marketing tactics can seem transactional but are part of the larger strategy; one that must be continually supported and expanded to truly reap its just benefits and rewards.
Smarter Marketing Through a Broader Lens
Smarter marketing is all about using a broad lens and viewing marketing as an asset, a contributing function, not an expense or line item. A change in perspective and a bit of patience goes a long way in realizing your company’s goals.
Please view our “Avoid Random Acts of Marketing” for a deeper dive into making the most of a marketing investment.