Marketing is a broad field in business and it can encompass a lot of things: branding, lead generation, content marketing, (need more). It can be challenging for a new or small business to prioritize their marketing efforts and even more challenging to see a return on effort if they start with the wrong one.

Impact is often divided into two categories: short term and long term. This isn’t a real division as most marketing has both short term and long term impact, however, some tactics will show results sooner than others. And although there can be overlap between the two knowing the projected outcomes of different marketing can help predict realistic results and reduce frustration with your marketing effort (and budget spend).

Short term marketing often encourages an action e.g. calling your 1-800 number, sign-up, register, purchase, etc. It is strongly connected to sales and is the easiest to track an impact and has a short cycle.

Long term marketing provides support to short term marketing and can often increase short term marketing impact. It has a longer cycle and is sometimes even on-going. This impact is more difficult to track with specific numbers as it is more indirectly connected to sales.

Short term marketing (90 days or less)

Branding should be done very early on. You should have a solid understanding of what your company personality is when you’re developing your product/service, website and business cards. This becomes further defined when you set up your social channels as you will be actively communicating to your target audience.

Social Media can produce short term results if it’s planned out that way. Often, social media is seen as a waste of time and results in very little business – this isn’t the fault of the platform, but rather the marketing plan. Short-term goals should revolve around goals like increases in social mentions or engagement, reach, and eventually fan opt-in (moving your fans over to an opted-in email list allows you to get to know their interests better so you can deliver better content (and possibly sell to them). The reason this is under short-term is because social media can move quickly and result in an engaged and targeted audience faster than email.

Events are a fast way to market to interested and targeted audiences. They provide fodder for content and speak loudly of your skill and expertise to a broad audience. These can be time intense so start small and ensure your follow-up campaign is set out before you start to ensure smooth delivery and less stress. Follow-up is key in events and can often lead to long term drip marketing (see below).

Networking is probably the most popular short-term marketing and has firm overlap with sales as the potential is there to close deals and confirm future meetings within a single networking event. The key is to go where your prospects are and not your colleagues/competition. Your business card can be the most effective marketing collateral you have. Make sure it’s designed well and contains all the pertinent information – consider including a call to action. Any non-sales could potentially go into your drip marketing campaign (see Lead Generation below).

PPC or ads offers short-term benefits through immediate traffic to a desired page or website. This is particularly good for time sensitive offers such as conferences, courses, discounts, webinars, etc.

Long term marketing (one year +)

Lead generation can mean different things to different people. For some it’s a euphemism for cold calls, but for me it’s more about filling the different parts of the sales funnel and perfecting the funnel itself to get you more qualified leads. A branch of lead generation is Drip Marketing, the concept being that you passively keep in touch with these ‘leads’ until they’re ready to buy or engage – keeping in touch usually via email every few weeks.

Content marketing revolves around content creation (and promotion) This can be time consuming for small business and is a common strategy for b2b companies. When done with an effective strategy it can become an excellent source of business. However, most companies begin content marketing later in the life of their company as the benefits are longer term and rarely show short term impact.

Email marketing is under long term mostly because it takes time to build the list in the first place. However, once you have a list, the results can happen quickly. Purchasing a list is never recommended for email marketing and can result in spamming (and possible fines).

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is most definitely a long game. It takes time to improve organic search results and if anyone tells you different – they’re lying.

Blogging can help build content, generate organic SEO, and more for your website. And although corporate blogging can be daunting to some, it is important to share your expertise and develop thought leadership. If you aren’t a good writer, try video, or images – in most cases anything is better than nothing.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of what can go into crafting an effective strategy to achieve your business goals. When you include data on your target audience, industry trends, company branding, etc. it can add up to pretty great odds of success. It’s not difficult, but having a good understanding of how these can overlap most effectively and their timing can make all the difference.

Carolyn Bergshoeff is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business B-to-B marketing firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Carolyn helps her clients implement the most successful tactics to achieve their business goals.