Posted on May 09, 2018 by anstice communications
By Sheenah Rogers-Pfeiffer, Founder and Chief Strategist
If I had a penny for every time a client asked me to guarantee “ROI” prior to even beginning the process of a marketing communications strategy, I would be famously rich. ROI has become a buzzword—much like “sustainable” or “integrated”—that many marketing and PR professionals throw around like dirty laundry and often don’t take time to examine. ROI is a metric that’s usually provided by the C-Suite that has little objectivity and a lot of subjectivity; it’s an arbitrary ask that many agencies (and marketing professionals) confidently take on without realizing that they may be setting themselves up for failure.
The idea of ROI is important, and there are various ways to measure it, but it must be based on a full-circle understanding of the business objective, barriers and target consumer psychology. Measuring conversions versus altering an NPS score to shift reputation are completely different tasks and require completely different approaches—add to that the culture the business is aiming to penetrate and the 50 other variables that require consideration within the strategic development period.
So, what isthe most effective way to create and ensure ROI? Some may argue that it’s impact in today’s über-competitive, hyper-content-driven society. I tend to agree with this theory. Impact creates confidence in the brand, but impact alone leads to a very empty place. The advertising world, at one point, was built on shock and impact through gimmick-driven campaigns and mass-market media buys. We still see many of them today, but the present-day consumer is too smart; they are armed with more information than a brand can keep up with themselves. Thus, impact—if done in a “creative for the sake of being creative” way—will ultimately feel shallow, which will demonstrate ROI of a very expensive Band-Aid.
Today’s consumer not only needs to feel confident, but they need to trust a brand and see themselves ina brand. To do this, one must be meaningful. To be meaningful, you must prompt awareness and ignite engagement. We all have examples of brands that look like they are trying too hard or marketing in a monolithic way. This appetite for the “meaningful” is the reason behind the trend of localization, where many blue-chip and franchise companies are determining ways in which they can engage people in a brand at a local level. Why? Because it feels real. It feels authentic. It feels like the brand is asking permission rather than demanding attention.
We know that people don't resist change that they believe is in their best interest. And changing or tapping into existing behaviour is the only way in which marketers will get ahead of the curve or sustain market share.
The next time you look at ROI, consider the way in which impact and engagement is measured. Taking an approach of meaningful disruption positions marketing communications as leading a business rather than supporting it, which will provide a business with a much clearer path towards ROI.
Sheenah Rogers-Pfeiffer is Founder and Chief Strategist at Anstice Communications, Canada’s leading boutique agency specializing in meaningful disruption strategies and FX.