October 28, 2020

The Luxury Of Strategy

Loudmouth ad weasels like me are always going off on the need for advertisers to abandon their addiction to short term-ism and focus their attention on the long term imperative of building their brands. 

There is plenty of evidence (including that of Field and Binet) that in the long run marketers are better served if their ad budgets are more weighted toward brand-building advertising and less weighted toward short-term promotional advertising.

The problem with this is that for a great many marketers surviving this week is a more compelling prospect than the promise of a magnificent brand five years from now. Many businesses simply can't afford to do advertising that doesn't deliver instant returns.

This is not just an unpleasant reality of business, it is a fact of life. Short term and long term objectives are not always aligned. There are many things we do for short term benefits that are harmful in the long term.

The world would be a much simpler, more reasonable place if we could abandon the habits that make life livable in the short run, and precarious in the long run. Sadly, the world doesn't work that way.

Tactics can often be a matter of life and death, while strategy is often a luxury. As Mike Tyson once said, "Everyone has a strategy until they get hit."

Having spent centuries in the ad business, one thing I learned is that the tactical always seems to drive out the strategic. When the rubber meets the road, and decisions about spending money have to be made, if financial resources are scarce, the tactical always wins.

One of the most powerful and unrecognized benefits of a successful brand is the financial wherewithal to support both tactical and strategic advertising. Most businesses don't have the means to do this.

Strategy is the advantage of the wealthy.

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