Marketers Need Return On Marketing Investment Now

ROMI Marketing ROIYesterday, I had a long and interesting conversation with the president of STIMA, Belgium’s largest association of marketing professionals. He told me the main issue that surfaces in his daily contacts with marketers is ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment), a.k.a. Marketing ROI.

The crisis is hitting hard, and accountability is priority number one today. The results of the annual marketing survey by Belgian The House of Marketing, in collaboration with STIMA, are a clear illustration of the need for ROMI.

Barely, one year ago, the 2011 edition of the survey showed a relatively optimistic marketer. Today, confidence is lower than during the crisis of 2009, and the so-called Marketing Confidence Index hit a record low of 5.7%.

The economic situation and decreasing consumer confidence are among the main reasons for the gloomy outlook of most Belgian marketers, and the consequences can be felt: decreasing marketing spend and budget freezes regarding the marketing teams are just a few. Marketers are uncertain and even scared. That’s probably not the best thing to do in times of economic uncertainties. On the contrary, the time to improve efficiency and customer-centricity is now. It doesn’t mean marketers should stop investing in ‘new tactics’ and proven programs.

ROMI: make a difference TODAY

Jim Lenskold - courtesy: MarketCulture Blog

Jim Lenskold courtesy of MarketCulture Blog

However, it does mean that optimization, analysis and forecasting are more crucial than ever, in order to ‘survive’ the economic crisis and be stronger and more customer-oriented once it’s over.

ROMI is about accountability, planning and forecasting. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that for the fourth consecutive year, ROMI or marketing ROI keeps gaining attention among Belgian marketers. And it’s about time.

Marketing ROI is not a new concept and as Jim Lenskold wrote in 2004 (!) and has been reporting ever since, pressure among marketers regarding accountability and ROMI, keeps growing.

This is not only the case in the US. It’s exactly the same in Belgium and in many other countries, where similar surveys are conducted.

That’s why it’s pretty revolting that some ‘thought leaders’ (and I won’t mention names anymore or even link to them), especially in the social media space, keep repeating marketing ROI leads to failure (!). Especially as, even if it is a financial parameter, along with smarter measurement, marketing ROI is essential in an integrated and customer-centric perspective.

The conditio sine qua non for efficient marketing

Marketing ROI by Jim Lenskold

Marketers that don’t realize the importance of ROMI today are misled, naïve, uninformed or stubborn. Marketing ROI is NOT the end of creativity, innovation or ‘new ways’ of doing marketing. It’s the conditio sine qua non for efficient marketing.

If you can’t demonstrate what works and what you intend to achieve, using the right numbers regarding ROI, you have a problem – or will have one soon. If you can show what works you are – almost by definition – working in a customer-centric way. Because here is a fact: marketing in 2012 and beyond does NOT work unless the (sorry for the word) empowered consumer wants it, another finding in the Belgian survey.

So, here’s a small pitch: if you’re anywhere nearby Antwerp, Belgium on May 3 and 4, make sure you come to the Fusion Marketing Experience congress where marketing ROI is exactly the topic Jim Lenskold will teach you all about.

Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard

Social Media ROI and author Olivier Blanchard

Furthermore, I’m happy that my ‘buddy’ Olivier Blanchard will join us again since he remains one of the few that tackle the ROI question in social media, among others in his book Social Media ROI and on his blog. Customer-centricity, finally, will be key at the event.

Regardless of whether you can join or not, the ROMI ‘message’ can’t be repeated enough. More importantly, however, it’s time to practice it. There are no excuses, Jim has been explaining it since 2004 (and probably before) and all surveys, as well as discussions with marketers, show that marketing ROI is a key priority, despite what some gurus want to make us believe.

The time for hype, excuses, theories and words is over. The time for action has come. Trust me and the many thousands of REAL marketers who are confronted with this every single day and in 2012 more than ever before.

Dutch version of this post.

  • Jeff Molander

    Hmm. Wake me up when the never-ending, backward (mass communication navel-gazes itself into mind-numbing, out-of-control, rampant in-effectivness) ROI discussion is over, please. Or maybe we can just end it by saying the ROI of marketing is sales. It always has been and BAD (lazy, “artistic,” branding) marketers simply cannot handle the idea of it.

    • J-P De Clerck

      ROI is sure about sales as well, Jeff. But it’s about much more. In fact, there is no discussion on ROI, the problem is that it’s turned into one in recent years by social media pundits. Marketing ROI is marketing ROI. It’s documented, pretty clear and explained before we started talking about social media. You know, marketing is part data and part gut feeling and creativity. The data part is unfortunately not understood and accepted. To me, marketing ROI is math, the problem is few people love math.