Stop using the term ROI

February 24, 2015

While ROI is easier to track online, there is no possible way to really track ROI, at least not in the way that marketing firms would like you to believe. The moment a prospective client opens their mouth to discuss ROI, I am immediately disinterested. A savvy client understands that ROI is flawed. There are plenty of companies out there that make their money on pitching ROI, and how precise it can be. The reality, however, is that there is no real way to track “true” return on investment. If you ask me how much new business a rebrand will yield, don’t be shocked if the answer is I don’t know. I am sure that some company out there probably has an answer for that, but the truth is we don’t. It would be as difficult as answering "how much happier will I be if I buy a Mercedes versus a Honda?" At the end of the day, they both get you from point A to point B, but there is a perceived quality that escalates Mercedes and their price point. The same is true of a logo. What it offers is intangible and difficult to track. This is not unlike many of the marketing pieces. Let me put it to you this way: If your client saw your ad in the paper, then visited your website, then clicked on a digital ad, then a week later got a direct mailer, then visited your site directly, followed you on Facebook and then a week later called to schedule an appointment. Here’s the tricky part: If you ask the client how they heard of you or what made them interested in retaining your services, they are likely to say that they saw an ad in the paper because it was the first piece they were exposed to. Of course, you’ll communicate back with your marketing agency and ask them to apply your entire budget to print ads in the paper. So now your ad agency goes back and tries to make sense of this. They see that various components in your media plan are performing well and they advise you not to stray or alter your current marketing plan. The reason to continue spreading your budget? It all works together. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what drove a person to become a client. The reality is that marketing works best together. It is impossible to say which piece of the marketing strategy ultimately converted the customer. Particularly when there is word of mouth involved. Perhaps you were recommended by a friend. The potential customer then proceeded to visit the website and got additional information, liking what they saw on the website they moved forward. What would have happened if they had reached a bad website with an amateurish logo? They might have never come in. This is information you’ll never know because you invested in a professional marketing company to brand you. So how does that get attributed? You have to rely on studies. There are many studies out there that correlate the amount of business with the branding, and marketing strategy. Rather than worry about ROI, look at the bottom line. Are you getting more emails, phone calls, and overall business? Then your marketing is working. As you look at numbers and results you are able to make tweaks on what is working best, what needs to be improved, etc. Just don’t go and make a rash decision on where your clients came from. It might cost you business.