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Balancing short-term and long-term marketing objectives

The higher you climb on the business ladder, your salary, bonuses and other perks usually rise, too. You are paid well and it’s not only because you know your products, customers and competitors inside and out. You make the big bucks because you’re a gambler.

Everyone expects you to take chances, but everyone also expects you to win.

These are calculated risks with the company treasure chest. Where to reach new customers? What to say to them? How to increase sales?

An old business adage says, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” When nothing is happening, all eyes turn to marketing. The dice are in your sweaty hands. Shoot!

Mark Ritson
Mark Ritson is a brand marketing expert, columnist for Marketing Week, guest speaker and author of many books. He also works with some of the biggest brands in the world today.

But where should you begin? Smaller, nervous minds mistake a flurry of activity for a marketing plan. Here are three common mistakes I’ve seen marketers and sales managers make.

  1. Do not waste time and meager resources flooding your organic LinkedIn or Facebook business pages with pseudo-ads written as organic posts. Don’t mistake a few likes for winning.
  2. Do not hire an inexperienced marketer to handle the firm’s social media. Hire a proven resource who can show you past examples with results. Not an intern who managed Instagram for their mom’s dental office last summer.
  3. Do not fumble your way through a Google Ads account with a company credit card trying to save money by running your own Google ads and get leads. This is EXACTLY what Google hopes you will do. The learning curve is too steep for real success. The rules of the road change too often for the layman. Hire a proven specialist if Google is part of your plan.

Instead, before you hire anyone, download a new social media app, or spend the next dollar, take a deep breath and assess the big picture. Spend your time and attention on setting a handful of long and short objectives. The key to your lasting success is balancing these objectives and mastering a marketing plan of your own crafting that understands the difference.

Mark Ritson best describes it in his 2023 Marketing Week article, “How Guinness became Britain’s most popular pint”. (See Mark’s bio in footnotes.)

Diageo is famed for its marketing prowess, and rightly so. And one area where the team excelled was in setting clear, measurable objectives of two distinct types. Shorter commercial objectives were benchmarked and then monitored with business metrics. Longer-term brand goals like salience and brand meaning were assessed with consumer metrics.

The team set these objectives on an annual basis and then “worked backwards” to identify the tactics and investments that would need to be put in place to achieve them over the financial year. There are clear lessons here for marketers too.

First, that they must start with strategy in the form of targeting, position and objectives, and only then work back through the required tactics. Put down your spade and decide where you want to dig your hole. You may not even need the spade by the time you have made a good plan.

Second, even the biggest brand success will likely derive from only a handful of objectives – both long and short. Too many brands have too many objectives, which become – in the immortal worlds of AG Lafley, P&G’s former CEO – “dreams that will never come true”.

Strategy is choice and it’s never more discerning than when a marketer sets the brand objectives for the year ahead. Learn to focus, to embrace long and short, and to kill those objectives that aren’t worth the effort and which will detract from the mission ahead. The research on corporate strategy success suggests no more than a handful of objectives can be successfully achieved in most corporate settings each year. Follow that advice. Guinness did.


If you are the business owner, marketing director or a CMO, Ritson’s advice is sound but challenging if you do not have past data on advertising performance and customer opinions of your brand. You will have to decide how you will measure short-term and long-term success going forward. What are the key business metrics for shorter ad campaigns as opposed to consumer metrics for shaping customer perceptions over time?

Start by writing your specific marketing goals.

Know your ideal target and what is the most important message to say to them.

Organize objectives that will help you reach them in two columns – short and long.

Short advertising campaigns are tactical. They drive sales.

Long branding campaigns are strategic and reinforce how customers feel about your brand.

Decide how to balance your budget and resources between short and long objectives.

Throw away anything that doesn’t make sound strategic sense and feels like busy work designed to impress others.

You need a real plan for results that are simply stated, and everyone can understand.

You alone are responsible for the marketing plan.

You’re the one holding the dice. ‘Yo eleven!


ARTICLE: How Guinness became Britain’s most popular pint by Mark Ritson – February 8, 2023
© 2022 Centaur Media plc and MarketingWeek

Professor Mark Ritson’s biography

Mike Hallaron
About Hallaron Advertising Agency

Mike Hallaron is founder and principal partner and has served as director of accounts at Hallaron Advertising Agency in The Woodlands, Texas since 2003. The agency works closely with clients supplying branding and advertising strategy and implementing effective, award-winning campaigns. More than just an idea shop, Hallaron is a full-service agency focused on increasing client’s sales using branding, marketing, and media services.

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