If I had to pick one burning issue that I’m seeing a lot of business struggle with lately, it would be uncertainty.

We’ve helped businesses grow sustainably for years and we know how important it is to plan for the long term and to avoid working in short-term cycles.

Jeff Bezos has talked about the value of being “long-term oriented”. At Amazon they “ask everybody to not think in two-to-three-year time frames, but to think in five-to-seven-year time frames,”

You need to invest at the beginning to see long-term gains but when everything’s shifting around the way it is, it can be hard to pinpoint where people are going to be in a month or two. So how do you plan for the long term future when you’re unsure what the next month will bring.

There are two things that will resonate with people in senior positions at the moment. For companies that sell products, the change in seasonal trends between 2019 and 2021 has been a nightmare for stock management with Brexit, COVID and even the Suez Canal blockage.

Meanwhile, for companies that provide a service, recruiting good people in the right positions is the challenge. So this political and economic uncertainty is having a double impact in terms of businesses investing in the future through advertising and having the resources to action the advertising.

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Don’t panic, change

It is common for Directors and teams of people to work together and put loads of effort into a strategy with a long-term vision only to abort it. We will have looked at the data, the audience and the objectives. Before a campaign is executed, we will have sat together and discussed what we’re going to do and why it makes sense and how we’ll measure for success.

But all it can take is a bad cash flow month and there is pressure to reduce budgets or change tactics before the algorithm has had enough time to learn from the data. Before you know it, you’re reacting in a 4 week cycle and the campaign doesn’t have enough time to succeed.

Build a marketing funnel, not a segment of it

In the last 3 months especially, we’ve seen a lot of proposals for pockets of investment into some advertising, to test the waters. This is often a good way to test the market. We start a lot of campaigns by suggesting the client starts by promoting a bottom of the funnel offer/message for prospects who are at the consideration stage of their buying journey.

The problem is that following a successful run of ads and leads generated, it can feel like a safe next step to run the same campaign repeatedly until the well runs dry. For long term results, you need more. You need to invest at the awareness stage and the consideration stage by adopting a mixture of brand awareness, retargeting and lead nurturing activities.

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Zoom out and analyse with context

This is actually borrowed from people who trade on the stock market amidst uncertainty where dips in performance can scare the market. It’s the same concept with the metrics we see in website and marketing performance. We’ve all taken calls, received emails and endured meetings where all the arrows reporting on the week before are red. But it’s important to make sure we don’t lose sight of the big picture. One comparatively bad week, month or even quarter doesn’t necessarily mean the strategy isn’t working. Especially now when seasonal trends don’t apply for many sectors and where macro influences are at play.

It’s not that referrals are a bad thing. Far from it. They show that you’re getting things right with your existing customers. But when referrals become anything more than an additional, nice-to-have income stream, there could be a problem. It means your outbound marketing isn’t hitting the mark.

At Web Presence we build long term relationships and adopt a combination of inbound practices that generate sustainable long term growth for our clients. The advice I would give is to zoom out and look at the trajectory of your business over the course of 6 months to 36 months. Do you have a long term plan for how you’ll secure the financial security of the business that you have committed to?

Get your personalised sales and marketing scorecard

So, if you’re looking for ways to boost your marketing performance. If you’re relying too much on referrals at the moment. Or if you just want to attract and convert website visitors, take our sales and marketing scorecard.

Just answer 15 questions to receive your completely personalised report right away. You can use it to identify which parts of your sales and marketing funnel need the most attention. And it’s already been proven to help B2B organisations improve the sales and marketing performance.

It could just be the edge that you need to take your marketing to the next level.

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