The challenges of a conservative client: Putting in the "I" before getting to the "RO:"

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Zain Haseeb
Zain Haseeb
Return on Investment, what a beautiful term. It's easy to say, it's easy to write and everyone knows what it means. When it comes to stocks, bonds and other classic investments, it's even quite easy to calculate, but we are in the 21st century now, folks, with words like “social media” in the atmosphere and people “tweeting” and “poking” each other online.

As an account man at a relatively new digital agency in Philadelphia, I am always on client pitches talking about social media and the benefits it can provide an organization on various levels. The first question I receive after I finish is, “Well that sounds good, what's the ROI?”

This is a really interesting question because there are so many different answers. Social media can provide “ROI” on many different levels for an organization, from generating sales to providing better customer service. At its foundation, social media creates a direct line of communication between you and your consumers, and not just a one-way line of communication for you to speak to customers, but rather a two-way avenue.

The challenge we face today in the marketing and advertising world comes back to this wonderfully hollow question of “What is the ROI?” Let me ask you this:

What is the ROI on the 30-second TV Spot you have been running for millions of dollars?

What is the ROI on the full-page newspaper ad you have been running for thousands of dollars?

What is the ROI on the radio ad you have been running for thousands of dollars?

I bet these are questions most people have not thought about or looked into recently. Your director of marketing said, “We need to put our marketing budget into TV, print and radio.” You said, “OK!” Sales were going up, profits were increasing year-over-year and no one asked any questions. I am not saying that traditional means of advertising are no longer profitable, but what I am saying is there are so many new and more cost-effective channels into which organizations need to be investing money, and more importantly, time.

Social media is a conversation, your company talking with your consumers. I understand that's foreign to anyone used to traditional advertising and one-way messaging, but this is where the world is moving and you need to buy into it now. Social media requires time, and in our business time is an investment. Ideally you would put some strategy behind the investment, but just getting started is all that matters. Put in the investment and I can guarantee you will certainly see the return on it.

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