How to Maintain a Sound, Long-Term Marketing Plan

Some business owners are short-sighted about their marketing and advertising approach, only truly worrying about it during desperate times and chasing instant results. But that kind of thinking negates the positive effects that come from having a solid, long-term plan.

How to Maintain a Sound, Long-Term Marketing Plan

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

Interested in Business?

Get Business articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business + Get Alerts

Every business owner wants to make more money — and many of us rely on marketing and advertising to do so. We invest in marketing and advertising with the hopes (and expectations) that both will bring us more customers, more jobs, and more money. 

But many business owners use the wrong strategy. They go for instant results, rather than thinking long term.

The book, The Wizard of Ads, likens these types of business owners to cocaine addicts. They want to feel good, and they want it now. Instead of opting for long-term strategies that will lead to long-term beneficial results, they go for the quick-fix, the cocaine hit, the instant gratification — over and over again. 

These are the companies that turn ads on and off constantly. The ones that offer major discounts when business lags a bit. The ones that seem to always be having a sale. The ones that go after quick marketing/advertising high after high, instead of developing real marketing plans that can have positive effects, with time and over time. 

The result is that they’re always chasing the next high.

It’s exhausting being this business owner — and the people who work for him or her — because nothing is ever enough. There’s no long-term plan or focus. Just sprint after sprint after sprint. 

Sound familiar? Most of us have been there at some point in our careers. But why? What makes this short-sighted approach so attractive and alluring? 

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Let’s face it: Many times we don’t think about marketing or advertising until we’re desperate — until we need business ASAP. We think about running ads or ramping up marketing when the phones have stopped ringing or we’re faced with the possibility of needing to lay off workers because there’s no work for them to do and no money coming in to cover salaries.  

When we’re desperate, we don’t have time to wait for things to work. We’re not thinking about a long-term solution or strategy. We’re thinking about the now. How can we keep the business afloat NOW? How can we keep a full staff paid and busy NOW?

So we go for marketing and ad tactics that we think will bring quick wins. Things like sales and discounts. These are the times when we may say “yes” to jobs that aren’t a good fit for us or try to appeal to those price-sensitive prospects that we know are more trouble than they’re worth. 

All that short-term thinking can be exhausting, but it can also backfire in other ways. No matter what, it won’t get us the stability and sustainable growth we’re after. That requires more strategic marketing and advertising. 

What a good long-term marketing and advertising strategy looks like

We know that chasing marketing and advertising high after high isn’t the best way to approach business sustainability and growth, but what is? What does a good long-term marketing and advertising strategy look like? 

It includes things like: 

  • Defined goals for what you’re hoping to achieve in the next six months to a year, the next five years, and the next 10 years. (And a clear understanding of your metrics, so you know how many leads you need in order to meet your financial goals today and in the future.) 
  • A content calendar that supports your goals and will guide your social media posts, email campaigns, ads, and direct marketing collateral throughout the year.
  • A system or strategy for getting reviews, not once, but continuously. You should also have a plan in place for responding to both positive and negative reviews.
  • An ad budget and ads management. You can and should adjust ad spend as it makes sense for your business, but it’s best not to stop ads altogether. If business is crazy and you have more work than you can handle, cut spending a bit. But don’t turn ads completely off unless you have to. 
  • A hiring system in place year round so you’re never in a situation where you have to turn down work because you don’t have the staff.
  • Automation where it makes sense, to save you time and money on mundane tasks that need to be done throughout the day, week, month, and year. 

Seems like more work up-front, right? Maybe, and we only touched on some of the aspects of a good long-term marketing and advertising plan. But you won’t burn out from exhaustion the way you would if you were chasing short-term hit after hit. And you’ll get way better results. 

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit or


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.