What Is ‘Short-Termism’ In Marketing?

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The notion that our attention spans are becoming shorter has been around for quite a while. With so much information – as well as so many channels – competing for our clicks, we find it more difficult to focus on one thing for too long.

When we add the post-pandemic economic pressure and the ever-changing demands of digital presence to that mix, we frequently find ourselves in the trap of short-term thinking.

Short-termism comes from focusing too much on the metrics and quick gains. We want to be winning and hitting our ROI goals quarter after quarter.

Why Short-Termism In Marketing Is Bad For Business

This nudges us into a strategy that achieves an immediate impact but has a lower long-term ROI. The problem is that, even though a short-term strategy might seem to signal growth, it actually damages brand equity and undermines your chances of building something sustainable over time.

Hoping that short-term success will persist in the long run is a bad idea. Long-term efforts bring some short-term effects, but it doesn’t work backward.  The marketing industry is concentrating too much on short-term marketing effectiveness and this is having a negative impact on awareness, share of voice as well as ultimately profits.

Why Short-Termism Happens

Pressure For Short-Term Earnings

Marketing’s role is quite often viewed as a lever for driving short-term sales rather than the long-term growth engine that it has been shown to be. Quarterly earnings pressure from the stock market activates the requirement to focus marketing campaigns on attaining immediate customer wins or extending product lines as opposed to building new capabilities or creating a breakthrough subscription or platform-style organisations.

Too Few Strategic Roles

Marketers are frequently assigned tactical roles, such as overseeing social media or promotions. This is demonstrated in the August 2019 CMO Survey findings which show that marketing leads market entrance in only 37% of companies, revenue growth in just 36%, and market selection in only 20.6%. If marketers are not allocated a seat at the leader’s table, they will not have the authority to inspire or lead strategic change.

Role Ambiguity

In addition, according to the February 2019 CMO Survey merely one in three marketing leaders reported that they felt their job role was “very clear.” If they feel their roles are too vague, we believe it is likely that marketers may focus on immediate priorities as opposed to long-term strategies in order to make quick wins as well as protect what they can control.

It’s human nature to focus on simple tasks that keep business humming, but over time this short-term mindset delivers dwindling results. Marketing can lead well into the future with the correct support as well as the correct focus.

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