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When you strip marketing back to its fundamental organisational functions, by asking ‘why?’ ‘but why?’ ‘but whhhy?’ like an irritating a curious child, you end up with two goals.

  1. To increase sales and profit
  2. To increase the value of the company

Company income and company value are not the same thing. Sure they’re connected – companies with high earnings tend to be valued more – but there’s more to it than that. Increasing company income and raising company valuation reflect two very distinct speeds of marketing.

Marketing fast.

Everybody loves ROI… except that it can be damn hard to measure, and infers the ability to reduce and simplify a complex web of interactions into cause-and-effect. But having said that, it’s undeniable that the right kind of marketing can increase awareness, and that can generate leads, and that can convert to sales.

Fast marketing is all about sales and ROI. It’s about funnels, lead gen, nurturing and conversion. It’s about smarketing – the interface between sales and marketing.

The ultimate metric for evaluating fast marketing is the income statement, the P&L. It’s about bringing in money in this FY.

Marketing slow. 

Slow marketing is not a fall-back position from a failed attempt at fast marketing. A discerning marketer shouldn’t be making excuses for poor results by changing the success criteria and turning their campaign into a brand awareness campaign – which of course is much harder to measure, and therefore much harder to conclusively fail at. It’s better to accept your failure and learn from it, than try to sweep it under the carpet.

I love slow marketing. It’s got more depth to it. When done right, it can communicate much more emotion and personality because you’re taking time to build connections, bonds and rapport with your audience. It’s a pure message about your values. You’re not trying to sell people anything… not right now at least.

If the success criterion of fast marketing is the P&L, then the measure of success for slow marketing is the market cap.

But the interesting thing about raising market caps is that you’re not just necessarily trying to impress your customers. Depending on your industry, there’s a good chance most of your customers aren’t institutional investors or even amateur traders. You therefore need to understand how to create a brand that both attracts customers to buy your products, while telling a story about your business to investors to make them excited about your long-term growth potential. After all, company value is all about future earnings. Slow marketing is all about convincing people to buy into a vision of where you are headed, more than it even is about where you are today.

One of the main reasons for Tesla’s insane market cap of over $50bn despite running at an annual loss and having a negative P/E ratio is because investors believe strongly in Elon Musk’s vision, ambition and capability. Elon Musk is ’slow marketing’ gold, the personification of the perfect tech brand.

The speed of content.

Where does content marketing fit in all of this? Is content slow or fast?

I think that the speed of the content is directly proportional, in a nicely symbolic way, to the speed it actually takes you to create it.

Fast to produce content like social media posts, ad banners, and short form blogs tend to be more transient, more transactional. They suit fast marketing well. They’re great for grabbing people’s attention, keeping people warm and driving conversion. Fast marketing is also much more trackable, provides better quantitative data, and can give a much better indication of ROI.

Whereas long-form posts, videos, podcasts and series of content, tend to have a longer lifespan. They convey more personality and can tell much richer stories. They’re great for establishing your brand values to an audience in order to get them excited about what you might get up to next.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

The title of this blog ‘Marketing, fast and slow’ was inspired by the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman. Not only is Thinking, Fast and Slow one of the best books I’ve ever read, it provides some incredibly useful insight into psychology for marketers. Strongly recommend.

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