Let’s have the ROI discussion, shall we?
Three little words that used to strike fear into my heart: Return On Investment.
When it comes to digital marketing, no one used to care about ROI. Not really. Now, it seems it’s all anyone can talk about.
It’s like the last 50 years of spending obscene amounts on marketing with little-to-no care of results all came to a head in the last 5 years.
Everyone’s got a marketing hangover and wants someone to blame for the headache.
The question I hear most often these days is, “what’s the ROI of this digital marketing thing, anyways??”
Let me be clear: I don’t think this is a bad question. In fact, it’s the ONLY question. We obsess over producing returns for clients.
But to ask “what’s the ROI?” for digital marketing is, in many cases, short-sighted.
For instance, when I go to get my oil changed. Two things happen:
- drive my car into the garage and get out.
- I drive my car out of the garage when my car’s oil is changed.
But there’s magic that happens in between.
I just never see it.
(I may not appreciate the “magic” as much if I hadn’t tried, once, to change my own oil. It was a complete disaster. It took me over 2 hours to complete, I was covered in grease, and I almost pinched off my thumb. I haven’t tried it since, and never will again!)
Would it make sense for me to say, “what’s the ROI of getting my oil changed?” No. It wouldn’t. It’s not the right context for the question.
We might choose to say instead, “what’s the VALUE I just received from not having to change my oil?”
Return on investment is, to some degree, a matter of value. But the context in which most people use it is constrictive to the overall value of an activity not directly related to dollars-and-cents revenue (even though dough is very, very important!).
Back to the VALUE of not having to change my own oil. Let’s see… For starters, I don’t have to worry about losing a digit.
- Next, I could use that time to do other things I enjoy.
- I won’t have to get dirty or change my clothes.
- I didn’t have to go to mechanic school or learn how a car works or even know the differences and viscosities of car oils.
- But most importantly, my car runs better with clean oil than it does with dirty oil. I’ve extended the life of my car without having to do much at all.
How that translates to direct dollars and cents isn’t ALWAYS immediately clear (though some times it is), but I know the value is there.
Digital marketing works the same way.
It’s like an investment.
If I took $100 to a bank, opened up a high-yield savings account, and came back the next day saying, “why hasn’t my money doubled?”…what might the banker say to me?
It doesn’t work like that.
You need to have patience, there are a lot of forces at work.
Or maybe even, get out of here.
All three would be appropriate responses.
We all know investments don’t work like that. Even the best investor on the planet, Warren Buffett, is happy with a 20% return on his best years.
Market forces like supply, demand, asset mix, a growing or shrinking economy…even weather patterns – they all combine to shape your rate of return at the bank.
Here’s the thing with digital marketing…
Everyone can benefit from it, but so very few truly understand it.
So many people have been duped by internet doofuses claiming to have made millions, all while sitting in their basement or on some beach in Fiji.
The “gurus” have distorted it for the rest of us.
Digital marketing isn’t a “thing” or “activity”, it’s actually a system. A series of layers that work together to produce a return when utilized properly. Sometimes the system has direct ROI (increasing the life of my car). Sometimes it doesn’t (using the time I would have spent to change my oil to play with my kids instead).
If you wanted to lose weight, you’d never drop the pounds if you ate 3,000 extra calories per day. It would literally be impossible. It wouldn’t matter if you worked out all day. You’d never get there.
But yet…multiple factors shape how your body loses or gains weight. Genetics, your metabolism, past injuries, food quality and sourcing, sleep patterns…they all combine to inform the way your body operates.
Similarly, some businesses look to digital marketing as a diet pill, expecting to lose weight fast. This expectation exists while they jam Twinkies down their gullet and wash it down with bacon gravy.
It doesn’t work that way.
You have to look at the whole picture, ADDRESS each layer of the picture, and build a system that takes each layer into account.
Let’s look at some of our more recent clients as examples.
Keith made a 50% return on his investment within 60 days.
Kathleen made a 16% return on her investment within 72 hours.
Jeffrey made a 7% return on his investment within 72 hours.
(Remember, Uncle Warren is happy with a 20% return ON THE YEAR.)
Do you realize the absurdity of those numbers? MOST clients are getting their money back AND THEN SOME within 72 hours of working together.
Not to mention they have a complete system set up to “compound” their investment. In other words, what we got to work within 72 hours keeps building on itself…we make it smarter and smarter.
There is direct ROI: making money.
There is indirect ROI: clients save time and don’t have to set up the system themselves.
We make sure to take into account each layer of the “system” and get it running properly.
That’s how we produce returns so quickly.
Now, in full disclosure, it doesn’t always happen that fast.
Sometimes addressing each layer in the system takes longer for a client.
I go back to the weight loss metaphor. If you are overweight and develop a knee or ankle problem from years of carrying around extra weight, it may take some time for the knee to stop hurting and work properly!
Digital marketing works the same way.
You can’t ignore your email list for years and then expect to send out an email and make a million bucks. Doesn’t work like that.
Same with Facebook Ads. Paid traffic isn’t a “money machine” no matter what the gurus tell you.
For the clients who DO THE WORK and stick with us, we get them where they need to go.
They aren’t swayed by the Siren song of fast internet riches.
We help them focus on the fundamentals to get their business engine running sound and smooth, and then we put high-octane gas in the tank. In short, we provide ridiculous amounts of value.
Instead of “return on investment”, maybe we should be asking about the VALUE of the investment instead. Something that measure both the direct and indirect return on your investment.