SRH | When to drive, when to putt.
Empirical Marketing

When to drive, when to putt.


The long and the short of it all

There’s an old saying that’s as wrong today as it was when professional golfer Bobby Locke first said it back in the 1940s, “You drive for show and putt for dough.”

8 Media Strat 2 the Long Short of It

Even if you don’t play golf, you already know that’s nonsense. You can’t get to the green if you keep slicing the ball three fairways over. And you can’t win the hole if you can’t sink a putt. You need both.

In marketing, you need a strategically brilliant short game and an effective, efficient long game in order to win.

As marketers, we absolutely do not play the long game “for show.” Building a strong brand creates an emotional connection with a broader audience of potential buyers, shortens the sales cycle, increases margins and drives growth.

To be fair, digital channels make the short game incredibly seductive.

You can get fantastically granular with targeting. The effects of performance marketing are relatively instantaneous. The data are easy to gather and understand. Attribution seems obvious. And reaching your quarterly sales goals keeps the C-suite and shareholders happy.

8 Media Strat2 TLASOT Chart2 a

The gray line that looks like a staircase shows the effect of brand building on long-term sales growth. Ignore that for the moment.

Instead, let’s focus on the yellow line that looks like Bart Simpson’s hair. It shows the effect of short-term performance marketing — a spike in sales followed by a dropoff, a spike in sales followed by a drop off. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Notice something? There’s little to no growth. 

Maybe that’s okay.

But challenger brands that are looking to take on category leaders and grow market share will at some point need to embrace both brand and performance.

In “The Long and the Short of It,” Binet and Field recommend a roughly 60/40 split between the two. Those numbers will look a little different depending on your business and your category.

8 Media Strat2 TLASOT Table

And here’s what happens when you find the right balance between your long and short game:

8 Media Strat2 TLASOT Chart1

You’ll see a lift in sales, margins, profit and market share. There are still spikes, but there’s also steady growth.

It’s never been long vs. short, brand vs. performance. Marketing has never been an either/or situation. It’s always been “and.”

And next time we’ll show you how it can all come together. See you then.


Les Binet on why long-term matters” — Les Binet, WARC

The Long and the Short of It – Les Binet and Peter Field

The Wrong and the Short of It” – Tom Roach