Seriously, stop obsessing about marketing ROI

February 15, 2016

It’s bad for you. Probably inflames your IBS and makes your complexion all grey and waxy – seriously just chill. Of course I fully appreciate 80% of the marketing community is telling you the exact opposite but you know, we’re not them.

Here’s why you need to tell your colleagues to dial it down a notch on ROI:

  1. It falsely sets expectations 
    If there was a guaranteed magic bullet formula for generating demand we’d all be milwionnaires by now Rodders. There isn’t – not ABM, Inbound, Praying to the all-seeing God Cthulhu, Content or anything else. Anyone that says there is… is frankly lying (unless maybe they own 9 yachts and a private island). At any one point in time you may happen upon a formula that does well – good for you, exploit it. Exploit it whilst you can because all the pieces are moving and your stars will at some point misalign back leaving you at square one. 

 

  1. It suffocates innovation
    There is no proven formula, ergo, vis-a-vis, enchilada there is inherent the concept of risk, which means you are always dealing with the unknown. And we need to embrace that – the scary, nervous thing of experimenting. You basically need to grow a pair and say that x% of your budget will go towards experimentation – knowing that 75% of that in turn will be written off as a failure. Oooooooh.

 

  1. It makes us sound like accountants
    …and no offence to accountants but none of us set out to be accountants. Although I do wear a lot of cord these days, it’s comfortable, practical and warm. Let’s not forget our job is to inspire and engage and not bore people to death with endless graphs and formulas. Be a marketer damnit.

        
The 80/20 rule of risk vs reward

This might all sound like I’m very whimsy and flim-flam with the notion of ROI but I’m not – I run a company where we invest 20% of our turnover on marketing. Truth be told I’ve learned more about marketing since launching and running a company than I probably did in the previous 20 years as a corporate marketer. But don’t tell anyone.
We model everything in excruciating detail from automation to SFDC – we have attribution and source modelling, predictive funnels, those little graphy things with animated levers – the whole shebang.
But we know what we don’t know, and take a healthy attitude to positive risk taking – investing 80% of budget in tried and tested approaches with the other 20% being more “shrug, what the hell – let’s try it and see what happens”. The ‘fuck it and have a punt” tactics.
Invariably 80% of these left-field strategies and tactics crash and burn and we all sit around laughing, pointing at each other and shrugging saying ‘oh well’. But sometimes we try something different that pays off big time leaving us all elated that, by jove – it actually bloody well worked! And chest bump.

Point is, we then learn from it and build it into the wider ongoing strategy.
So, if you can – encourage your weekly marketing meetings to include some innovation and pioneering time – a mini-brainstorm to complement all the left brain analytics and dashboards.
If nothing else it’ll make the dreaded weekly ops meeting more fun 😉
Justin
 
p.s. you could always check out our Benchmarks to help you figure out what ‘good’ looks like


Justin Hall, CEO @ Protocol


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