Tag Archives: ROI

Meal Deals: Why The Limited Marketing Menu?

Take a look through your inbox.  Chances are, you’ll find a veritable glut of emails from restaurants and pubs offering discounts, promotions and offers.  Since the recession, these printable voucher codes and deals have been very much de rigueur – especially at office lunch outings.

But in the few years that these vouchers have cemented themselves as staples of British dining (along with complaining, too much wine and poor tipping), the marketing mechanics behind this form of promotion have remained frustratingly stale.

These vouchers are not the preserve of some exclusive ‘club’ – they get forwarded around any office as frequently as gossip, jokes and topical memes.  So in theory, vouchers are simply a form of agreed advertised price at certain times and for certain meals.

So why not shift the qualifying criteria from a piece of paper to something that genuinely benefits your brand?

UGC (user-generated content) is authentic, effective and embodies the very ethos of social media marketing, yet the majority of mainstream restaurants continue to miss a trick.  Why stick to mailing out vouchers that become crumpled up pieces of scrap paper when the qualifying mechanic could so easily become a source of useful UGC for your brand?

Take Instagram for example.  Last week, I blogged about Starbucks’ excellent use of 2011’s hottest photo-blogging app to curate authentic, consumer-led photos of brand experiences.  Restaurants could so easily offer the same offers for customers who upload a photo of their meal for example, and tag it with the name of the restaurant.

Foursquare too is a channel with such potential if it only shook off its autocratic ‘mayoral’ system.  Sure, ‘mayors’ can receive a free pizza / drink etc. with their meal, but this instantly excludes every other brand advocate who regularly checks in – should their (loyal) brand advocacy not be rewarded too?  ‘Check-in’ between 12-3 to [insert voucher offer here] would result in lots of check-ins and thus lots of digital buzz.  What’s to think about?

From a commercial perspective, I understand that physical pieces of paper offer a tangible ROI for bean counters at various head offices.  But with tills (or cash registers for the Americans amongst you) that are sophisticated electronic computers, collecting and measuring social media mechanics / footfall drivers is surely a relatively simple task.

I’m also keen to stress that I’m not advocating the eradication of printable paper discount vouchers.  My mother, for example, finds the concept of sharing your personal life on Facebook ‘very strange’, so clearly asking her to geo-tag a photo or check-in on Foursquare would exclude her (very valid) custom.

But in my opinion, social, mobile and digital technology is now getting so advanced, and UGC is becoming such an authentic and desirable form of marketing content, that brands putting all of their eggs into one printable voucher are missing a huge trick.

Food for thought.

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Hang Up Your Hang-Ups: The ROI Myth Dispelled

That’s it – I’ve HAD it. For years now, I’ve paid one telecoms service provider after another for my mobile phone, month in, month out. And you know what? In all these years, I’ve never ONCE received any return on investment for this!! Can you believe it??!! I’ve been a good customer, paid on time, and have never once received a single penny back from these communications charlatans. I’m cancelling my contract – there’s simply no ROI to be had from my mobile phone.

Ludicrous? Yes. Absurd? Yes. Why? Because, quite simply, the value of a mobile phone comes from the service it provides. The fact that it doesn’t generate revenue for me is irrelevant – it’s a communications tool that makes everyday communications infinitely easier and more convenient – that’s its value.

And you know what? I’m sure more astute readers of this post will already have twigged where I’m leading with this (you’re a smart bunch) – the same can be said for Social Media.

I’ve been having an interesting discussion this week with a senior marketer in the Marketing Professionals’ Network on LinkedIn. He claims that he often has difficulties ‘selling’ Social Media to his clients because they want to see demonstrable transactional ROI before they commit to using this channel.

But, just like the humble mobile telephone, Social Media is a COMMUNICATIONS tool. @smashadv, an American copywriter / ad man I regularly converse with on Twitter, sums this up succinctly: ‘Comm-Unity’. Enough said. So why do so many people remain hung up on ROI? Is it because they, blindly, still consider Social Media as a marketing device, rather than a communications channel? I really think it is.

Sure, an e-commerce platform delivers verifiable sales – visible, accountable ROI that keeps the bean-counters happy to invest. But what drives consumers to that platform in the first place? A special offer announced on Twitter? A coupon posted on Facebook? Discounts offered to people checking-in on Foursquare? An email voucher? All of these and more?

As marketers and advertisers, we are in the communication business – plain and simple. It is our job to convey the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. And how do we do this? Through communications channels, plain and simple.

So if you still have clients hung up on ROI, take a few moments to ask them if they use a mobile phone. I guarantee that none of them could live without it, despite its lack of ‘measurable’ ROI.

JUST LIKE SOCIAL MEDIA.

Why all the hang-ups on ROI?

It genuinely, genuinely amazes me that so many marketers remain sceptical when it comes to social media. ‘Not being able to measure ROI’ is an oft cited ‘reason’; however marketers subscribing to this misguided view are in reality, missing out on real value.

It’s certainly true that social media now uses considerable marketing resource. A few years ago, many businesses considered a company blog the very height of digital innovation, and perhaps ‘Literate Linda’ from accounts was left to update it once a week with news of the company raffle. These days (thankfully) have long gone and social media is now a sprawling mass of interactions across multiple platforms.

We now have brands interacting on Twitter (the undeniable darling of the social media world), talking with consumers in forums, social network sites, mobile applications – the list grows exponentially every week. Despite the advent of social media however, the doubters are right in one thing – we don’t yet have a way to measure commercial ROI – but why should this be the yardstick by which social media’s value is determined?

From a business perspective, one of the biggest benefits of social media is the fact that it allows brands to interact with their consumers. Web 2.0 has killed off the days of one-way marketing communications – consumers no longer accept being ‘talked to’; they want to be part of the conversation – which is where social media comes in. Focus on providing excellent customer service and brand experiences and this will be replicated in social media channels again and again and again.

Similarly, social media puts faces to faceless corporations. Building relationships on a human level benefits businesses enormously – how could it not? Discussions on networking sites (such as LinkedIn) allow companies to listen to what their consumers are talking about, what their concerns are, what their needs are. What makes them tick, how your business can help them.

No ROI? I beg to differ.

The times are changing. The times have changed. And for those waiting on the sidelines, still wondering whether to get involved, you’re missing a valuable trick. Yes, we’re still waiting for a way to quantify monetary ROI for social media. But sometimes marketing isn’t about money. Worrying about social media ROI can blinker you – and ensure that you miss out on something of real value.