Hang Up Your Hang-Ups: The ROI Myth Dispelled

That’s it – I’ve HAD it. For years now, I’ve paid one telecoms service provider after another for my mobile phone, month in, month out. And you know what? In all these years, I’ve never ONCE received any return on investment for this!! Can you believe it??!! I’ve been a good customer, paid on time, and have never once received a single penny back from these communications charlatans. I’m cancelling my contract – there’s simply no ROI to be had from my mobile phone.

Ludicrous? Yes. Absurd? Yes. Why? Because, quite simply, the value of a mobile phone comes from the service it provides. The fact that it doesn’t generate revenue for me is irrelevant – it’s a communications tool that makes everyday communications infinitely easier and more convenient – that’s its value.

And you know what? I’m sure more astute readers of this post will already have twigged where I’m leading with this (you’re a smart bunch) – the same can be said for Social Media.

I’ve been having an interesting discussion this week with a senior marketer in the Marketing Professionals’ Network on LinkedIn. He claims that he often has difficulties ‘selling’ Social Media to his clients because they want to see demonstrable transactional ROI before they commit to using this channel.

But, just like the humble mobile telephone, Social Media is a COMMUNICATIONS tool. @smashadv, an American copywriter / ad man I regularly converse with on Twitter, sums this up succinctly: ‘Comm-Unity’. Enough said. So why do so many people remain hung up on ROI? Is it because they, blindly, still consider Social Media as a marketing device, rather than a communications channel? I really think it is.

Sure, an e-commerce platform delivers verifiable sales – visible, accountable ROI that keeps the bean-counters happy to invest. But what drives consumers to that platform in the first place? A special offer announced on Twitter? A coupon posted on Facebook? Discounts offered to people checking-in on Foursquare? An email voucher? All of these and more?

As marketers and advertisers, we are in the communication business – plain and simple. It is our job to convey the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. And how do we do this? Through communications channels, plain and simple.

So if you still have clients hung up on ROI, take a few moments to ask them if they use a mobile phone. I guarantee that none of them could live without it, despite its lack of ‘measurable’ ROI.

JUST LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA.

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