In business, as in life, there are a myriad of shortcuts one can take to generate short-term results at the expense of long-term success.

Need to increase circulation numbers? Discount the newspaper and offer to bill subscribers later. Need to increase advertising revenue? Offer a free ad with every paid ad.

The results are the same, regardless the short-term “tricks” employed. Results improve in the short-term, then decline over time, and eventually you find yourself in an even weaker position than where you started.

There are many ways to entice customers to act, but only the most genuine tactics will encourage them to stick around.
There are many ways to entice customers to act, but only the most genuine tactics will encourage them to stick around.

The list of companies and individuals that have “tricked” their way to long-term, sustainable success is very short, indeed.

Successful companies, brands, and products earn success by providing their customers with meaningful and tangible benefits that drive satisfaction and loyalty. And this satisfaction and loyalty generates repeat purchases and referrals that lead to incremental revenue and profit.

There is nothing wrong with “data-driven” business decisions as long as those making decisions don’t forget that human beings are the source of the data. Living, breathing, and thinking human beings may be “tricked” once, but seldom are “tricked” twice by companies and marketers seeking short-term gains at their expense.

There is a fine line between using technology and information to deliver an exceptional customer experience versus using the same to separate consumers from their hard-earned money.

Whether it’s a cookie loaded to a consumer’s browser that delivers contextual advertising, or a GPS location service that serves up “deals” from nearby businesses, the opportunity exists to use technology and information to serve versus manipulate consumers.

In the world of permission-based marketing, you learn quickly that consumers are in control of your success or failure. Yes, that e-mail with the subject line “About Your Ad” you sent to non-advertisers certainly did have a high open rate. But while that “trick” works one time, whatever was gained will never overcome the long-term damage to your organisation or brand.

And collecting e-mail as the first step in a multi-step online form, then sending e-mails to those who never completed the subsequent steps of the form, may be a great short-term “trick” for building your e-mail database. But it’s also a great way to be identified as a sender of spam and have your IP address blacklisted by e-mail service providers.

Long-term marketing success isn’t about employing a “bag of tricks” that deceive or manipulate customers. Successful marketing isn’t data-first or technology-first — it’s customer-first. Long-term marketing success is only achieved when you invest the time, thought, and effort to understand the needs of customers, gain insights into their behaviour, and deliver exceptional experiences with your products and services.

Short-term marketing tricks never lead to long-term success.