No one really enjoys a reality check. It means we’re forced to look in a mirror and really examine the “uglies” (flaws, gaps, errors) in our expectations.
For a busy CEO, reality checks are the Mt. Everest of planning… especially when it comes to marketing.
And, to be truly effective, a marketing reality check has to involve more than the “logistical” stuff like spending and budget limitations. Much, much more.
Taking the Long View of Marketing
One of the primary elements of marketing strategy that CEOs face is that some business objectives take longer than others to achieve. No matter how realistic you are about your business’s “end goal” (e.g. knowing you may never be a household name in your industry), if you’re not realistic about marketing timelines it can derail your whole business trajectory.
For example, if one of your goals is “awareness” in the B2B space, it’s unlikely you’d deploy a cold email campaign and then convert multiple clients within the week. Optimizing your website and content marketing for SEO doesn’t happen overnight. Even the best social media strategist can’t conjure zero-to-million followers in a month’s time (unless you somehow get that viral “golden ticket” on TikTok).
Purchase cycle matters, too. It may be shorter or longer, depending on which product or service you’re selling--in both the B2B and B2C landscapes.
If you’ve established a channel agnostic strategy where messaging aligns with both business goals and brand value, it’s more likely you’ll invest where marketing works best for growth--not because you met a “paid search guy” on a webinar last week.
If you’re a healthcare IT company serving large health systems, the purchase cycle typically involves weeks, months, or sometimes years of nurturing.
In consumer retail, the cycle is shorter (think: pizza!)
Taking the longer view of marketing isn’t easy, but more often than not, it’s necessary.
Why You Shouldn’t Walk Away Too Soon
Okay, so you’ve built a realistic, channel-agnostic strategy. You’re committed. If you’re following the strategy, there will be results. You just have to be patient.
(I know… waiting is hard.)
For example, optimizing your website’s SEO really can take up to a year to see robust results.
“Planning (and sticking to) a realistic marketing strategy is tough as nails.”
At the end of that year, you might have established authority and expertise surrounding your brand. Visitors search, find you, engage with your brand, and eventually, see your value. While Google brings them to your site based on strong SEO, the rest is up to you to nurture effectively.
I understand. Planning (and sticking to) a realistic marketing strategy is tough as nails. Building brand awareness, engagement opportunities, and nurturing… these are all examples of marketing strategies that take a while. Your SEO, website, social media content, and nurturing tactics need time to be tested and optimized in order to perform.
But, being realistic about marketing timelines ensures you won’t thwart the strategy you’ve committed to.
Putting Value on “Thinking Time”
If you’re still on the fence about short-term versus long-term marketing investments, you might benefit from understanding the value of “thinking time.” It’s an investment in your future success.
Even billionaires like Warren Buffett dedicate an extraordinary amount of time just to think. He says he spends 80% of his day reading and thinking. Abraham Lincoln is famously quoted, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Spending time thinking and devising smart strategies means you’ll make less impulsive, more innovative business decisions.
It really all boils down to this: If you don’t have 10 weeks to think about your marketing, you shouldn’t spend a penny on marketing.
If you want to dive deeper into the development of a marketing roadmap, watch this strategy video.