Advertising Short-Termism: What Does It Mean for Your Business?

As a marketer or brand leader, you may or may not have heard the term “short-termism”. Short-termism is the advertising and marketing version of a “quick fix”. The term encompasses strategies that may get short-term results or a once-off spike in revenue, but they do very little for the brand in the long-term.

Here’s a quick analogy. I often go to the supermarket because they’ve advertised a special on something. Traditionally, retailers advertise specials with a low mark up to get feet into their store, with the intention of either up-selling them to something with more margin or increasing the likelihood of the customer making incidental purchases.

This kind of strategy used to work just fine. But times have changed. Consumers have become more single-minded than ever because there are so many purchasing avenues available to them. So, you’ll largely find that the modern consumer will walk in, buy the discounted item and leave without buying anything else.

So, short-term discounts simply don’t make the impact they used to. That’s short-termism in action. And it isn’t doing marketers any favours.

Short-term results vs long-term brand building

We live in a consumer culture that moves faster than ever before. Customers want to know at first glance what it is about a brand or product that will give them value. In the case of the vast majority of modern consumers, no one has the time or inclination to seek out value anymore. Value – and by association, brands – must find them.

That’s our current reality. So, in that context, it seems logical to “attack” consumers with short-term offers or irresistible value propositions. And as a result, fewer brands are playing the long game. It’s almost as if the concept of building brand equity and loyalty are becoming mythical constructs of an industry of old, fading into the annals of marketing legend.

Soon, marketers will be exchanging stories around a fire, saying things like, “Ah, tales have been told of the time of the big brands, when people knew a company’s name just by its insignia and were loyal to the very end.”

Sure, that’s a bit far-fetched. But marketers are forgetting the importance of brand building in favour of short-termist profitability when the importance of longer-term media planning can simply not be emphasised enough.

A faster market means faster changes

A marketing campaign should not be one-dimensional. It’s multi-layered, and it rolls out over a period of time. In our fast-moving landscape, it’s entirely possible that the needs of your target market will change throughout the campaign period. From that point of view, it just makes sense to map out your communication plans over a 6-12-month period, building in space to adjust communications in case of any contingencies – like competing brands countering with a similar strategy or socio-political circumstances affecting the general consumer mood.

These things take time!

I mentioned the “long game” earlier on. And I can’t stress the importance of that enough. Time-and-time-again, I’ve seen brands crumble before my very eyes because they’ve put short-termism ahead of a structured, goal-orientated media approach.

Holistic campaign planning provides the opportunity for you to optimise the use of your communication channels effectively and intelligently. For example: if your brand isn’t a household name, rather than short-term shock tactics, why not start by structuring your upper-funnel (or initial brand awareness) activity into activations or other forms of offline media that’s exclusively relevant to your target profile?

When the consumer knows who you are, you can confidently follow through on digital channels to get lower funnel (from consideration to purchase) conversions. This is so important in a world where digital has become the main channel for many advertisers. There is scope for you to stand out beyond digital.

Don’t forget that offline media enhances your communication efforts on digital channels. That’s the long game in action. If you’d like to find out more about growing your brand in the long-term, get in touch with us at MediaSmiths. We’re about results and this means playing the long game

Angie Smith

About Angie Smith

Angela started the company in 2007 after working in various media including radio, Yellow Pages as well as on the advertising agency side. She has a passion for media planning across channels, strategy, development and negotiation and really loves working with clients in growing their businesses and brands. She has worked with many brands large and small including local, national and multi-nationals. Angie’s pastimes include travel, food, entertaining.