In speaking with many, many marketers over the past year, two words — well, actually one word and one acronym — stand out in my mental word cloud when thinking about marketing in 2011: revenue and ROI (return on investment).
The first is a term more commonly seen in financial reports and tossed around the conference table during company meetings. The second is another financial term.
And I’m not just dreaming that these words have infiltrated marketing. Research from the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report found that 54% of surveyed marketers think “achieving or increasing measurable ROI from lead generation programs” is a top strategic priority for 2012.
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I know I’ve written about Marketing proving its worth within the company in terms of revenue generation or measuring ROI more than once over the last year.
Menno Lijkendijk, Director Milestone Marketing, a Netherlands-based B2B marketing company, says the emphasis on ROI in marketing should be reexamined.
Menno’s main point is unimpeachable — return on investment is a financial term with a specific definition that has a very specific meaning to the C-suite in general, and particularly to the CFO. His concern is, not only is the actual ROI of some marketing activities overemphasized, the term itself is gathering too much marketing “buzz.”
He provided an example of a comment left on an online video of his that referenced “intangible ROI,” something he (rightly) says does not exist.
“There is no such thing as intangible ROI. The whole definition of ROI is that it should be tangible,” Menno says.
He continues, “This term — ROI — is now starting to lead a life of its own, and is being used by email service providers to explain to their potential customers that doing business with them will give them great ROI on their marketing investment.” Menno also mentions email providers are not alone in using this sales pitch and cited search marketers, social media markers and other agencies.
“There is more than just ROI, and the real value of marketing may require a different metric, or a different scorecard, than just the financial one,” he states.
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