Keith Fowler

Why Every B2B Business Should Avoid ‘Short-Termism’

As the pandemic continues to affect our priorities, more and more companies are falling prey to the ethos of ‘short-termism.’ Even though the ample evidence shows us that long-term strategic planning is far more effective, the rush to recovery has some people scrambling.

The Marketing Practice and Marketing Week have conducted surveys every year for the past three years to measure the B2B efficacy drivers. The results last year showed a clear connection between long-term planning and overall success. However, the most recent results show that people have switched to a shorter-term mindset. (You can check out the full results here.)

In 2019, 21% of B2B companies surveyed were spending more than 60% of their budget on long term planning. In 2020, that percentage has dropped to just 9%. Less than 30% of B2B marketers are now following the sage advice of Les Binet and Peter Field, who recommend that 46% of your budget should be spent on the long term, with 54% spent on short term sales.

Obviously, the survey’s results have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic; it was taken just two months into lockdown. But it highlights the concerns that businesses are abandoning their long-term planning strategies in favour of short-term stopgap measures. How should you instead balance your short-term concerns with your future strategy?

Managing your stakeholders is more important than ever

It would be naïve to pretend that short term results aren’t important – after all, you can plan for the future all you want, but if you fail to survive you won’t actually need that long-term planning! However, marketers are in a unique position to anticipate the future needs of your stakeholders and help strengthen the business both now and in the long-term.

You might feel pressure from other departments to adjust your strategy, but you need to explain that short termist ‘solutions’ will undermine your future success.

A long-term approach pays off

The evidence clearly shows that a long-term strategy is the best way to go, even in the wake of short-term setbacks and recession economies. However, a 12 – 18-month strategy right now? Pointless. So, what should you do instead?

B2B marketers should be focusing their efforts on conversion and pipeline acceleration – this will help the business in the short-term. But remember – leads, even those that look the most promising, will likely end up being time-wasters right now. Even if they have good intentions, they might have a small budget and less cashflow. Leads will spend more time in the pipeline, so you be concentrating your efforts further down the funnel. As much as you should be generating new leads, you should be working closely with sales to progress leads down the pipeline.

There’s no denying that you’ll feel pressure from above to boost short-term leads. Just never forget to spend at least 46% of your time and resources on long-term planning (thanks again, Les and Peter…)

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