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The great myth of marketing ROI

‘What is my ROI?’ We encounter this topic a lot. Customers who have really embraced marketing, who have strong strategy and messaging, who are producing on-brand assets. They are doing everything ‘right’. After a few months they start to wonder: ‘What is the correct amount of ROI we should be expecting? How do we measure all this?’

Some assumptions about marketing and ROI are myths and it will serve any business well to spot them and debunk them. In this blog post we break down definitions of ROI and lead you through the many different ways you should be using and reviewing marketing to get a clear picture of effectiveness.

Leaning on leads

If you are equating ROI exclusively with lead generation you are limiting your own possibilities.

Leads are important and they are a final goal. But there is a lot of foundation work that needs to be laid first and this work is rich with different rewards in and of itself.

Imagine going to a five star restaurant that has a reputation of creating the finest food in the country. When you arrive, the décor is shabby, the wait staff are rude or non-existent, you are lined up with masses of other people in a noisy canteen environment. The food arrives and yeah, it’s great. But what about your overall experience?

The end point – the meal or in the case of marketing, the lead – is important. But it is only one part of your brand, your service offering, your reputation and your success. Lean too heavy on leads and you are missing much of the story.

Different types of return

You need to think about ROI in a more expansive way.

ROI is a holistic conversation between what you put in and what you get out. For example: the aim of investing in developing strategy is not to get more leads. It’s to direct your business and ensure you are heading in the right direction. This may ultimately end up in more new business, but there are a host of other things that need to be done well to get to that point that may be separate to your investment in strategy.

So what are the types of return you should be looking at when it comes to marketing ROI?

1. Brand awareness

Your assets help build your brand, who you are, what you stand for. They also add bottom line value to your business. A library of content makes your business more valuable for a buyer. It’s difficult to quantify ROI for brand awareness. It’s long-term and it’s global. Meaning, it builds over time. Actual results may be so far down the pipeline you can’t specifically track a lead to a particular asset or message. It’s cumulative. Without it, you have no foundation.

2. Sales collateral

Creating content for your sales team is a huge return. More on that in a later point but suffice to say that generating concrete assets that your sales team can – and do – use is fundamental to your marketing approach and success.

3. Increased retention

See it’s not just about new leads. It’s about the value of your existing customers. If your customer retention increases through your marketing efforts that is extremely valuable. After all they’re the ones who are in a position to recommend your brand to others.

Understanding the different stages of marketing

The first mistake we see is when people assume all they have to do is create the assets and from this all leads should flow.

No. A brand new homepage for your website doesn’t mean leads. If nobody sees your assets, they may as well not exist.

The next stage is promotion and distribution. But this requires its own planning and a significant amount of time and money invested in order to yield results. Think about it. Would you click on one Google Ad if you were looking for a multi-million dollar integration platform for your company?

No. So why would you think anyone else would? You need to use a mix of promotion techniques to get your messaging and assets out to the general public and potential customers. It’s all about breaking through the noise, building trust and educating your prospects. If you think an ad is going to do that alone, then think again.

Get your assets created and in good shape. Once you have a solid and consistent library of content (that continues to grow) you are then ready to move both your spend and your efforts into Promotion and Distribution.

Are you under-using your sales team?

To be harsh but fair – we’re pretty sure the answer to this question is YES. The disconnect between sales and marketing is a heavy hangover from pre-internet days.  It’s incredibly frustrating how many businesses still see these areas as separate. The line between sales and marketing should be blurred.

To get a measurable ROI, you need to promote and distribute your content. You can do this through social media channels, and implement some SEO strategy (both of which are fine and useful tactics) but the most valuable way to promote your content – and that doesn’t cost a thing -  is through your sales staff.

Marketing assets should be used as sales collateral. Sales collateral allows for conversion. If your sales teams are out having meetings and are not sending links directly to your content then they (and you) are directly responsible for sub-optimal conversion.  Be sure your sales team is really using your assets at the right stage of the buyer's journey to help build customer trust and educate. And if they are not, think about why. Are they aware of the content? Do they know how to use them? If the answer isn't yes, then you need to have some serious words.

In the global way of looking at ROI, this content is like gold in how it creates relationship and connection with people at all stages of the buyer journey. They might not be ready to buy now but they will remember the value of the content once they are ready, particularly if that content challenges them.

New rules for marketing

B2B marketing is a fast-changing landscape. The shift is away from presentation towards integration and continual communication. For decades marketing strategies for B2B and B2C have largely been kept separate. But today – with more access to data, social experience supporting consumer decision-making and the desire for more personalised sales experiences – audience behaviours are converging and the strategies we use to reach them are too. They know you before you know them.

You need to keep your asset creation going continually and then use Promotion and Distribution to pump that content out. (Draw on content from your blogs).

Getting real with ROI

Here’s three myths about marketing ROI we are going to dispel right now:

Adwords are the new billboards

Don’t believe marketers who tell you that Adwords will solve all your problems. Question whether what you’re selling or promoting is commoditised enough that it will benefit from that kind of ‘one-click’ culture. Your strategy and approach must be comprehensive and multi-faceted.

Closed leads are the only measure of ROI

If you're going to calculate your ROI purely on closed leads then, assuming you’re comfortable that your assets are as good as they can be, you must calculate ROI against the money you have spent on Promotion and Distribution, and nothing else. This is a more useful way to measure such a narrow-viewed approach.

You can guarantee marketing results

If anyone promises that you should run a mile. It’s extremely naive to assume that if you spend 'A' you will get 'B'. This is the equivalent of printing money as in, it operates outside the laws of the actual market. It is a false economy. There is no instant recipe for success. There are analytics, looking at what worked and what didn’t. There are market variables, business instincts. Spending on promotion is a percentage game. Some of it will lead directly to success and some won’t.

Shift your ROI thinking

The biggest turnaround our customers make is when their question shifts from: ‘What is my ROI?’ to ‘How many ways can we measure ROI?’ The question gets more sophisticated. The approach gets more comprehensive and nuanced. The results get richer, deeper and longer-term.

If you’re unsure where your business sits in the new marketing landscape, take our assessment to see how you score across key marketing areas. You’ll get a personalised report including tips for improvement and a sense check on where your marketing efforts need to lie in order to start your ROI conversation.

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"Vision without execution is just hallucination."

- Henry Ford