Editor's Note: Here's to 2015
Remember when business managers would point to Japanese companies' use of 20-year plans as something to emulate? Right now, a five-year plan feels about as rare as a mountain gorilla or sperm whale. But as President Clinton pointed out earlier this year, short-term thinking is what got the world into this economic mess, and it's going to take long-term planning to pull us back out.
More than a couple of direct marketing consultants shared their concerns with me recently that long-term thinking is dying at the companies they work with because no one has the incentive to focus on the big picture—it's all about short-term performance. Certainly in this economic environment, short-term goals take on more importance—especially if you're carrying significant debt—but as one of the consultants put it, you cannot sustain sales without long-term planning.
Direct marketers are no strangers to the risks of short-term thinking. Guru Axel Andersson said, "If you want to dramatically increase your results, dramatically improve your offer." But he never meant marketers should do so at the expense of their businesses' health. For example, he noted how you can't give away your product as the prize in a contest because it will depress sales when people try to win what you want them to buy. The only companies that can work this strategy are those like car dealerships and timeshare properties, where prospective customers must come to the "showroom" to enter the contest, thus giving the marketer the chance to convert them.
Along that same line, J. Schmid & Assoc.'s Steve Trollinger has raised the red flag on perpetual discounting to spur sales. "Promotions for the sake of promotions are wasteful and damaging to your long-term success," he wrote in Target Marketing's March issue, advising marketers to base their offer strategies on the hallmarks of their brands, linking these unique selling propositions to value in customers' lives.
And then there's the not-so-small matter of the planet on which we live, the only environment we know of that's suited for mankind's continued existence. Scientists point to, again, short-term thinking as the culprit behind the rise of global warming that has begun to alter our ecosystems. Clearly, we need long-term thinking and planning if we're going to preserve the planet for generations to come.
With that in mind, I encourage you to attend "Paper or Digital? The Impact of Choices," a Target Marketing webinar I'm hosting on Nov. 17, and the seventh in our All About Sustainability series. You'll come away with useful guidelines to inform your marketing channel decisions for both the short term and long term.