Entrepreneur that I am, I considered marketing that answer as an audiotape for sleeplessness. There was proof of concept.
So I tested another answer. It was with a casino client who knee-jerked the question at a concept presentation. We were presenting a multichannel campaign that did double duty: the core creative expression appropriately positioned their brand to targeted prospects and also deepened engagement with an important current niche.
But instead of saying “Brilliant!” she looked me in the eye. She slowly took a sip of coffee -- and stared me down. Seriously.
“What’s the ROI on this?”
The words sat heavy in the air, and then I said:
“ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”
Yes. Whenever you are asked a question about the predictive yield of an IDEA, just say ONE MILLION DOLLARS.
Since I have been saying ONE MILLION DOLLARS, no one asks me about ROI twice. And they stay awake for my presentations.
In my mind I’m actually screaming, “SAY IT! SAY IT! SAY ROI!” hoping they’ll hear my thoughts because I love what happens afterward so much.
Let’s take off the emperor’s clothes on ROI. For those of you reading this who don’t know the acronym, bless you. ROI is return on investment, and as benign and logical that may sound, these three letters have rolled down the C-Suite hill and sucked the life from most every provocative marketing idea in the world.
In marketing, ROI is a term that is an indicator of results in: pay-per-click (if you’re selling clicks), couponing, and closed-loop direct marketing. In other words, tactics.
It is an historical equation based on a regimented continuum with a single beginning and end (the antithesis of continuous improvement).
It has not, nor has ever been, adroit to apply results to ideation, creativity, altruism, resplendence — or, in the instance of our casino campaign, multichannel messaging that supported bringing the right people in the door.
What was the ROI on the statue “Fearless Girl”? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fearless_Girl Do you know the company who paid for Fearless Girl? Not McCann, but the client? You don’t, do you? So the ROI must be zero.
Wait, did you know that it was paid for by a company that was at the time facing a lawsuit for questionable business practices? A (Cannes) Lion is a nice diversion, isn’t it?
Be good with the strategy, execution and historical reconstruction of ROI in non-$$$ terms. That’s brave. We need more brave in our world. More fearless girls and boys.
So the next time you’re asked, believe in your idea. ROI?
Say it with me: “ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”