Immediate Results Aren't Everything — Here's Why Playing the Long Game in Marketing Is Worth It Building a solid and effective marketing strategy means thinking about the present and the future.

By Jackie Cullen

Key Takeaways

  • Getting instant gratification and immediate results from your marketing efforts is rare
  • The importance of investing time and effort in marketing activities with a longer-term payoff
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Not all marketing activities are going to net immediate results, so is it worth spending time and money on them? It is a reasonable question, and it's one I have had to address with many of my clients. Most business owners understand that, with marketing, rarely will they get instant gratification. However, when it comes to implementing a marketing strategy for their business, they may have difficulty understanding why they should invest time and effort in activities with a longer-term payoff.

While there is certainly a lot to be said for incorporating marketing that will drive sales quickly, playing the long game is also an important part of any strategy because a business needs to build a reputation and create sustainable growth.

Related: What to Do When Your Marketing Isn't Producing Results

The payoff is not always instantaneous, and that's OK

Building a solid and effective marketing strategy means thinking about the present and the future. Ideally, a strategy should focus on a variety of activities that are designed to drive business in the short, medium and long term. Activities like starting a blog, creating video content, posting regularly on social media and designing a dynamic website do not bring in revenue right away. Furthermore, it is difficult to show exactly how much revenue they do generate.

However, these activities are crucial for establishing a business's online presence and play a major role in developing its core reputation. It may take time for activities like these to reach the target audience, but with consistent effort, and the right approach, it typically pays off in a major way.

Take a podcast, for example. A podcast can rise to mainstream popularity seemingly overnight, when in fact, it usually takes a year or more before it reaches that point. Unless they hit on a viral topic and truly do achieve overnight success — which is pretty rare — most podcasters have to dedicate hundreds of hours doing research and producing episodes before they attract a large following. They put in a lot of effort behind the scenes to make each episode, and they are consistently posting new material, regardless of the listener count. As the number of episodes grows, more people are able to find the podcast through recommendations or based on similar interests, and listenership starts to snowball.

The same type of scenario is also possible for a social media account, blog or YouTube channel. However, you cannot be discouraged when you only see 10 views after three or four posts. You have to carry on adding content. Marketing activities of this nature take time to gain traction, but the rewards can be significant when they eventually do.

Momentum

Targeted marketing strategies are essential for focusing on a specific product or service — for instance, my agency caters to dental practices across the country. One of the hot topics in our industry is dental implants. It is a high-value procedure for dental practices, even though, compared to a treatment like a crown, it is far less commonly performed.

Launching a targeted marketing campaign around dental implants is an excellent way for a dental practice to attract higher-quality patients. So, to ensure that a practice's dental implants campaign gains momentum and keeps it up long term, my team always supports it with blog posts, social media messaging and patient testimonial videos. Even though that type of activity may not be the main driver of the business that comes through the doors, it promotes brand awareness and customer education, and it increases conversions as well.

Related: Be Grateful Your Business Isn't an Overnight Success

Support immediate activities

Expanding on the last point, long-term, intangible activities are essential supporting elements for larger, more immediate activities, like ads, for example, because they strengthen the conversion rate. Ads are intended to drive conversions in from the start. They usually have a strong call to action. However, not everyone who sees an ad is going to be convinced right away. Some people will want to do further research before making contact. During their research, you want them to find more information — such as positive reviews, informative videos and a consistent social media presence — that reinforces, supplements and enhances the ad content to push them toward conversion.

Trust the process

A business is not a short-term undertaking. It is rare for a new business to take off immediately and never lose steam. For most new businesses or established businesses that are new to marketing, success takes time, whether that be three months or 13 months. With a well-planned marketing strategy in place, the business will have different tools with which to build a solid foundation for when it finally clicks.

When my company, MDA, was new, I was constantly creating content for an audience of no one, but that did not deter me. I kept going, and, eventually, the people I was trying to reach saw my content. Additionally, because I had dedicated the time and invested in my online presence, dentists and other professionals were able to see that I knew what I was talking about. I was recognized as having authority in the dental community. My exposure grew, and I got more visibility, connections, opportunities and clients.

Not seeing immediate results from certain marketing activities does not mean they were unsuccessful. Many activities require a slow and steady approach, but the payoff is truly worth the wait. Consistency, dedication and, most importantly, believing in what you are doing — those are the keys to successful marketing. Results may not come right away, but they will come.

Related: How to Create a Successful Marketing Plan: 5 Steps

Jackie Cullen

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Co-Founder & President

With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Jackie Ulasewich Cullen decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency with co-founder Shawn Berg.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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