- Frayed nerves: the struggle for marketers to balance short-term reporting and long-term strategy, read the cover story here
- Read what the long-term aims are of big brand owners who were at the Festival of Media
- Patrick Barwise, emeritus professor of management and marketing at London Business School, talks about the financial side of long-term and short-term aims
Marketing Week (MW): Why do some companies focus on the short term?
Justine Noades (JN): Some brands are beholden to the stock market and quarterly reporting. I think it is so much easier for companies that are private to be able to focus on the longer term and make big strategic changes to their business because they are not going to be criticised for affecting a short-term share price. The City is very powerful and vocal and you will get negative press [when reporting quarterly results].
MW: How do you get the balance between short and long term in a retail business?
JN: Any retail business is incredibly tactical. When I was at M&S [as head of marketing for M&S Home] we looked at weekly trading figures and performance to see whether we were on target. At the same time, you have to be thinking about where you want the brand to go in the longer term.
It’s a juggling act for the marketing director – you can’t be one or the other.
MW: What kinds of conflict can there be between short and long-term aims?
JN: There is always conflict around the use of resources, in terms of where you allocate your time and money. It is a balance. For example, it can come down to something as simple as how much money you choose to spend on tactical activity like vouchers and promotions versus spending money on brand-building.
MW: How do you get the balance right with your team at Millie’s?
JN: I set the strategic marketing direction and allocate budget. A business will always allocate the budget according to where its priorities are, so that is the easiest way of managing it.
[Parent company] SSP has lots of brands, including Upper Crust and Delice de France. Millie’s has its own budget and sales targets, and these contribute to the bigger company targets, so we are aimed to hit those figures.
It isn’t just about keeping our current customers happy, it is also about trying to get new customers in. That’s particularly a short-term/long-term issue that marketers face.
MW: How do you explain to people that investing money now won’t always see returns until the following financial year or beyond?
JN: You have to be pretty clear in what you are trying to achieve and why so that you can plan and allocate resource for both the short and long term.
When I joined the company [in April 2011] we spent quite a bit of money on customer research, looking at where the brand is in customers’ minds and the overall market. We are now putting those two things together, realising we could do things to help the brand to grow.