On November 5th, thousands of runners traversed New York’s five boroughs in the annual New York City Marathon. After many long months of training and planning, the individuals put their bodies through the ultimate endurance test, taking long and steady strides for 26.2 miles.
What can marketers learn from these dedicated runners and the countless others who’ll be participating in marathons before the year is over?
For marketers, marathons are a useful reminder that their short-term efforts must be paired with a long-term vision. Runners sign up for the race with a long-term training plan. They outline a running and fitness schedule and stay focused for weeks and months before the race. When marathon day comes, they also have more specific and short-term plans about how fast to run, how often to refuel, and what to eat and when.
Like these long-distance runners, marketers need to couple their day-to-day advertising tactics with strategic, long-term plan: what we call “marathon marketing.”
Advertise in Sprints
A vast portion of media coverage for marketers includes tips and tricks for improving ad campaigns, reaching new leads and sparking more conversions. And there’s good reason for it: Effective advertising can have a big impact on consumer behavior—especially in what Google has termed “micro-moments”—tiny, individual instants in which consumers make mini-decisions about what they want to know, do, or buy.
With hyper-targeted advertising that zeroes in on the small but significant moments that make up the path to purchase, brands can sway consumers—inviting them to click, search, and buy. And with millennials checking their phones during these micro-moments over 150 times each day, there’s enormous potential for brands to make an impact.
Earlier this year, beverage brand Stella Artois saw how successful these short-term tactics could be. With Blis Futures, Stella harnessed the power of predictive analytics to identify their ideal audiences and reach out at the perfect moment. The result? More passersby decided to grab drinks at the local bar.
Running a Marketing Marathon
In addition to working on effective, short-term ad campaigns, brands also need a strategy for effective long-term marketing.
For retailers with longer sales cycles, this may come naturally. Since consumers don’t tend to buy expensive luxury products on a whim, a brand like Rolex would likely consider each ad campaign as just a small piece of a much larger strategy.
But marathon marketing matters for all retailers, not just fancy watch brands. Even CPG brands that count on consumers to make small, last-minute purchases need to think about their long-term goals. Let’s take a large store like Target, for instance, where a mobile banner ad might get a consumer to stop by. How can advertisers incorporate this mobile ad campaign into a long-term strategy?
They can continue to track that mobile device and work on building a relationship with that consumer. The more insights they gain from the device, the better they’ll be able to personalize future campaigns. By paying attention to where the consumer goes, the retailer may find out, for instance, that consumer goes to a local yoga studio near Target a couple times a week. The retailer can then follow up with her by suggesting she come check out their full range of yoga pants and other sports clothes next time she’s in the neighborhood.
When brands integrate their fast-paced advertising campaigns into a broader strategy, they’ll whip their marketing into shape and win over both old and new customers.