Unrequited ROI


Readers know my pet peeve about ROI (Return On Investment) and my contention that the people who talk most about ROI are the ones who aren’t getting any.  ROI can be an addiction. It can turn a normal marketer into a living breathing marketing calculator. But measuring tactic after tactic then correcting and tweaking tends to bypass the most important measure of all — strategy. I favor ROS (Return On Strategy).    


Let me use an example. For a ski resort whose brand strategy is “The best groomed mountain in the Northeast,” it’s not that difficult to see how one might measure resort delivery on “best groomed.”  Grooming, on the customer experience side, can be measured based upon customer satisfaction, resort cleanliness, employee politeness. As for the on-mountain experience, measures might include trails opened, snow coverage, icing conditions, etc.  These strategic measures can then be calculated over time against ticket sales and other revenue sources. If the strategy is good, positive revenue should track against positive grooming metrics.   


ROI, on the other hand, tends to measure marketing investment, e.g., return on radio advertising budget, return on a give-away promotion, a pay per click campaign.


I’m all for measurement, trust me, but measurement without a brand strategy is unrequited. It reminds me of the question “How long is a piece of string?”