Short and Long-Term Marketing: How Long does it take to see Marketing Results?

Discover how to balance short-term wins with long-term loyalty in marketing. Learn how to bridge the gap between immediate results and sustainable growth.

Picture of Rob White Rob White

Published: 31 May 2024

11 minutes read

Short and Long-Term Marketing: How Long does it take to see Marketing Results?

As marketers, it's tempting to lean heavily on quick, near-term wins.

Marketing often takes a backseat in the hierarchy of priorities, with most organisations opting for a sales-driven strategy.

It’s no wonder then, that we gravitate towards short-term strategies.

Short-term strategies are geared towards delivering immediate results, supporting your audience in finding solutions and drawing them into conversations with your Business Development Representatives (BDRs).

However, the Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that 81% of consumers need to trust a brand before making a purchase. And, using Pareto’s principle, only about 5% of your target audience is searching the market for a solution at any one time.

These statistics underpin something crucial.

Relying solely on the immediate wins overlooks a vast majority of your audience who may not be ready to buy today - but will be in the future.

This indicates that we need to focus not just on the present, but on the future with our strategies.

This dual approach not only taps into the immediate needs of the ready-to-buy but also drives an audience that needs to trust you before converting.


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What is Short-Term Marketing?

Short-term strategies are designed to produce a temporary surge in business activity and traffic, used primarily to give a quick ‘boost’ in marketing results.

Typical short-term tactics include:

  • Product Launches: Introducing new products to the market to spark interest and drive initial sales.
  • Limited Time Offers: Creating urgency with discounts or special deals.
  • Events: Hosting or participating in events for your ICP.
  • Advertising Campaigns: Utilising targeted ads to reach a large audience quickly.


When executed well, these can lead to a noticeable uplift in traffic, leads, and most importantly, customers.

They’re useful if you’re repeatedly marketing to the same audience, but failing to garner much engagement.

However, the nature of these quick wins means they’re not sustainable or scalable.

While they may prove to be a useful short-term fix, results tend to plateau after the period ends. This means businesses need to explore less desirable options:

  1. Revert to previous marketing strategies
  2. Try and replicate the short-term tactic with a new offer or event.

Typically, both tend to struggle to produce results, with a heavy dependence on continual investment in paid advertising or fresh offers driving up the cost per acquisition of prospects.

Importantly, with the average B2B buying cycle lasting between 6 to 12 months, it’s crucial to maintain advocacy even when potential customers aren’t in the market. This nurturing period is vital to remain top-of-mind when the time comes when they’re evaluating solutions and options.

This sort of trust only comes from a long-term marketing approach.


What is Long-Term Marketing?

Long-term marketing sets the foundation for continued success and brand loyalty.

This approach implements strategies that build brand affinity over time, driving sustained and predictable growth.

Long-term tactics include:

  • SEO & Content Marketing: Enhancing your visibility and authority through content.
    Personal Branding: Establishing executives within your business as key thought leaders within your industry.
  • Podcasts and Webinars: Creating more engaging, thought-provoking content in another medium.
  • Social Media: Creating consistent, engaging content that resonates with your audience.


Unlike short-term marketing, which is akin to growth spurts, long-term marketing prioritises strategic, gradual growth and the enduring perception of your brand.

However, long-term strategies require patience and persistence.

For example, building SEO and domain authority from scratch is a time-consuming process and won’t yield immediate results. It can take considerable time to make your presence felt in the search engines and affect your business’s bottom line, particularly when you’re trying to contend in a market with established competitors.

That said, investing in these ongoing strategies is crucial for your business to build market relevance and customer loyalty.


Why Striking the Balance is Important

Balancing short and long-term strategies is vital to your success.

Rely solely on short-term tactics; this approach isn’t scalable and results can be unpredictable. While you might hit the jackpot with a highly successful campaign in one month, it’s extremely difficult to replicate the same result the next.

Conversely, if you focus exclusively on long-term gains, you’ll be waiting a long time before you see tangible results. You also run the risk, without proper execution, of depleting resources without achieving expected outcomes.

Therefore, you need to strike a happy medium and incorporate both approaches into your marketing strategy.


For instance, a long-term SEO and content marketing strategy will build your brand credibility and visibility within your sector

Whilst you’re channelling efforts into your content marketing, you reap the rewards of short-term marketing and engage in quarterly ‘growth campaigns’, such as targeted advertising or time-sensitive offers, to generate more quick wins.

This dual strategy builds the foundation for future success and scalability whilst generating leads in the here and now.

This means that you’re reaching the 5% that are in-market through your short-term activities, but appealing to the 95% that aren’t by building trust and authority in your brand.

This balanced approach allows you to supplement long-term growth with the hype generated by short-term achievements, ensuring that your marketing engine remains both dynamic and sustainable.


Key Considerations for Balancing Short-term and Long-term Marketing

To craft a balanced marketing strategy that effectively integrates both short and long-term growth, you need to consider the following:


Commercial and Marketing Goals

Understanding your company’s commercial goal is crucial before setting (or being set) ambitious targets.

If marketing has traditionally not driven significant revenue, but suddenly leadership has tasked you with contributing significantly to the financial goals—say, 50% of all revenue—a recalibration needs to be done.

Firstly, you need to ensure the proposed goal aligns with your marketing department's stage of growth. If the goals exceed your capacity and are unattainable, you won’t drive an ROI.

However, if the goals are achievable, you must evaluate how you can incorporate both short-term and long-term approaches to achieve your targets.


Budget Allocation

The ramp-up time for long-term strategies means your budget should be invested in foundational growth, with allowances for quick wins.

Allocating funds for experimental and immediate-result campaigns is crucial to meet revenue objectives in the interim.

However, it's important to align this spending with your broader commercial goals.

To align your budget with commercial goals, evaluate marketing’s revenue contribution within the previous financial year and analyse which channels delivered the highest ROI. Use this data to allocate budget towards high-performing channels, like SEO if it’s outperforming paid search.

And this isn’t just in terms of impressions, engagement etc. This should be aligned with the channels that are driving bottom-line revenue for the business.

Then, you need to ensure you’re aligning your budget with realistic business objectives from leadership. For instance, if aiming for significant revenue growth, ensure the marketing budget grows proportionately. 

Over time, you should lower acquisition costs which may mean sacrificing expensive short-term channels like paid ads.


Executive Buy-In

Whilst it’s sometimes overlooked, achieving leadership buy-in is essential for any marketing strategy.

They must understand and endorse the dual-strategy approach, and recognise that long-term efforts are a marathon, not a sprint, and will require time to mature.

Simultaneously, they also need to be on board with the periodic short-term sprints, understanding both the need for experimentation and near-term investment to get results.

To secure buy-in from the leadership team for marketing, follow these three steps:


Present Data-Driven Insights

Put yourself in the shoes of your leadership team - what do they want to see from marketing?

Showcase clear, data-driven evidence of marketing’s past success and potential impact.

Highlight metrics such as revenue generated from marketing efforts, ROI of various channels, and conversion rates and use this data to demonstrate how marketing contributes to the company’s overall growth.


Align Marketing Goals with Business Objectives

Clearly align marketing initiatives with the broader business objectives.

Explain how specific marketing strategies will help achieve key business targets, such as increasing revenue, expanding market share, or entering new markets.

Ensure that your proposed budget reflects the scale of these ambitions and is backed by realistic projections.


Communicate a Clear Plan and Expected Outcomes

Present a detailed and transparent marketing plan outlining strategies, tactics, and expected outcomes.

Include a timeline for achieving milestones and demonstrate how the allocated budget will be used efficiently and when leadership can expect a return on investment from marketing.


How long does it take to generate a result in marketing?

This is the age-old question for marketers - how long does it all take?

Here's a breakdown of typical variables that dictate how quickly you can see ROI from marketing:


Industry and Competition

If you’re working in a sector with more competition, you’ll need to wrestle market share with bigger, more established companies.

This may call for a more aggressive, short-term approach that captures people before they approach larger businesses alongside a campaign which drives advocacy for the longer term.

Whatever the approach, an industry with high competition will yield slower results than one with limited competition.


Budget and Resources

The scale of your marketing budget and the resources significantly impact how swiftly you can achieve ROI.

Larger budgets enable broader campaigns and help teams to activate their strategy at a faster rate but they do need to take into account what they’re spending and ensure that it’s going to channels that will see a result.

If you have a smaller budget, it’ll take longer to launch a campaign, will but fewer overheads need to be covered. Again, you need to strike a balance to ensure you’re making a lasting impact, but not overspending.


Target Audience

If you have a clear ideal company profile (ICP) and persona focus, then this should be pretty straightforward.

You should have a clear idea of where those people ‘hang out’, how they make their decisions and what takes them to market. The more information you have on your ideal customer, the faster you’ll see a return on your investment.

However, if this isn’t clear, you need to conduct appropriate research before you start your campaign. All communications, marketing and sales should be human-centric and without that, you’re shooting blanks into the dark.


Marketing Maturity

Every business is at different stages in its respective marketing journey.

If you’re a startup in a saturated sector with very few marketing foundations in place foundations, it’ll take longer to get up and running and see a return on your investment.

However, you may be stepping into a business with a mature marketing function, in which case, you should be able to ride that momentum.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all. There are plenty of challenging startups that have managed to drive revenue through marketing almost instantly, even in competitive industries. Applying a creative, human-centric approach can work wonders in driving this return at a faster rate.


But what would we advise?

In our view, expect to wait twice the length of your sales cycle before trying to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

This allows enough time to ramp up and begin generating demand, but also enough time for those leads to convert into customers.

For example, if your sales cycle is typically 1 month, a well-executed strategy could start impacting the bottom line within 2 months. Conversely, if you have a 6-month sales cycle, it may take around 12 months to observe any ROI within the year.

This timeframe serves a dual purpose:

  1. Targeting and Conversion: It allows ample opportunity for your campaigns to reach the intended audience, whilst giving enough time for them to go through the sales process and become customers.
  2. Strategy Refinement: If you don’t receive the result you want, it should be enough time to build up enough data to be able to go to market again, with data-driven insights to improve your marketing going forward.


Bridging the Gap Between Long and Short-Term Marketing Strategies

Navigating the balance between quick wins and long-term growth can be challenging, especially when trying to meet immediate revenue goals

However, the integration of both marketing approaches provides a dynamic, yet scalable marketing function that not only addresses immediate market opportunities but also solidifies your market position over time.

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Contact us today to see how we can help you build a marketing approach that truly drives your business forward.

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