The Need for Speed: Striking the Balance Between Immediate Results and Long-Term Success

According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2021 report, 42% of people say that the need to meet short-term sales/revenue goals was a significant barrier to making lasting changes.

Marketing leaders are stuck in a cycle of meeting short-term goals. They’re paralyzed; hustling to meet the demands of leadership and focused on “now” while either underestimating or completely ignoring future needs.

The effect is astounding. Instead of finding repeatable, sustainable pathways to revenue growth, teams are perpetually starting and stopping activities. Once the first short-term goal  is met, they immediately have to reset and work towards the next short-term goal. It’s a never-ending cycle of start-stop-reset. You can’t predictably forecast revenue, you’re burning out teams, and you’re actually preventing long-term growth.

It’s time to stop focusing on only short-term targets. Marketing leaders have to balance the need to deliver results while planning for long-term, repeatable, sustainable success. 

The reality of only focusing on immediate wins

Focusing solely on the short-term keeps you in a reactionary state. You’re stuck repeating the same activities over and over trying to get the same results each time. But that’s unsustainable and unscalable. Our article on random acts of marketing goes into more detail about this type of approach. 

When focused on immediate wins only, the approach to building demand often equates to some combination of the following:

Such limited short-sighted approaches are unsustainable and impossible to scale. You can’t get ahead if you’re always playing catch-up.

The reality of focusing only on a long-term plan

While there are serious implications of focusing on only short-term gains, it’s just as risky to prioritize only the long-term. 

It takes time to realize results. You can’t stop implementing your current marketing strategies, or abandon all of your current strategies while you wait to see success. You need short-term revenue just as much as you need long-term growth.

The reality is that you can’t focus on just one or the other. You have to strike a balance between the two.

How to balance both at the same time

Your first steps will be to start making a strategic shift to achieve both short-term and long-term results. Look at what needs to happen to support your sustainable success, then make a plan to do it. 

Next, consider how you can make the shift in parts, at different times, or in parallel so that short-term success isn’t sacrificed.

Here are three examples to get you started:

  1. If your biggest challenge to long-term results is marketing and sales alignment, you will embark on a change management journey. But in the meantime, what short-term solutions can improve the relationship? For example, can your marketing team update page layouts in Salesforce and clean up data? Small fixes can pave the way for a successful systemic change.
  2. If the quality of your lead flow is your biggest challenge, your teams will need to work together to establish new qualification criteria. While that process is happening, check and see if lead routing and alert functions are operating properly. You might be surprised to find that high quality leads are getting stuck and not routed to sales.
  3. Improving the customer journey is a big, long-term task. But if it’s your biggest challenge to growth, consider adding new, relevant content offers that meet your customers’ needs while your team dives into a full journey exploration.
Change the conversation internally

Shifting the mindset to balance immediate results and long-term success will be difficult, but it’s necessary.

In addition to mapping out your strategic long-term plan and identifying points of immediate improvement, you’ll need to change the internal conversation from “we need results now” to “we need results that support sustainable, scalable success”. 

This is often the hardest part of balancing immediate results with a long-term strategy.

A good starting point is to do a financial analysis that shows the level of effort and impact necessary to achieve the “we need results now” goal, then compare this with the expected outcomes from long-term change. More often than not, the cost-benefit of executing on campaigns now doesn’t even compare with the outcomes of a strategic shift.

Prepare to make the shift to a strategic demand marketing plan

Sometimes it feels like you’re being pulled in every direction trying to meet the demand for fast results. But the focus of marketing should be on balancing immediate results with long-term success.

The key to achieving this balance is adopting a strategic demand marketing plan. 

Don’t worry; you don’t have to do it all at once. You can gradually make the transition, or find experts to help as appropriate. Ultimately, what’s important is that you communicate with your team and make plans to realize short-term needs, all while keeping your eye on the long-term future of the company as well. The strongest leaders ensure their business’ sustainability is top of mind, rather than the instant gratification of fulfilling immediate needs.

When you’re ready to get started, check out our guide to Making the Critical Shift from Tactical Activities to Strategic Demand Marketing.

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