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Why return on investment is a marketing necessity

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I remember during my early days of marketing (many moons ago!) joining my senior colleagues at agency meetings in trendy offices filled with bright colours, abstract art and young, happy people.  We would sit over a cappuccino merrily discussing the artwork for a new logo, brochure or direct mailer and then head off for lunch together.  A career in marketing was for me, I wanted to part of this cool crowd who create art for a living and love coming to work.

I quickly realised, however, that this was not a true representation of marketing!  My responsibilities were far removed from the world of the agency and considerably more mundane!  For me marketing life revolved around manually monitoring Press coverage, segmenting data, issuing campaigns and measuring results.  I was frequently involved in heated meetings with the sales team, chasing them for feedback on leads, justifying my reasons for campaigns and updating them on success rates.  In short I was justifying my very existence.

Cut marketing to the core and you find it to be a number-crunching discipline.  Marketing exists for one reason and one reason alone and that is to increase revenue.  Fundamentally therefore, all marketing activity should be focussed on delivering a return on the investment spent (ROI).   The first thing that I ask every new client that I meet is ‘Does it generate a profit?’ in respect of every single aspect of marketing that they carry out.  There simply is no point whatsoever in conducting any marketing activity if you can’t satisfactorily answer that question.

Of course you need a strong brand and working with your design agency to create high impact, visually interesting marketing material is key to achieving that.  But the brand and materials produced must always be appropriate for purpose; in essence they must be developed to achieve a business-related goal.  For example, that goal might be part of marketing campaign to generate 10 new prospects and a direct mailer could form part of that specific campaign.

In order to be able to demonstrate if your marketing campaigns are in fact generating a profit you need to have the capability to measure return on investment.  Fear not, you don’t need to be a mathematician, it’s a simple equation.  You just need to measure how much the campaign cost to develop against how much revenue it ultimately generated.  There you have it, ROI.

If you can integrate ROI into every aspect of your marketing activity then you’ll find out what marketing is really about, you’ll appreciate why marketers passionately believe in the discipline and why it’s fundamental to business success.

To find out more about marketing for beginners you can visit our website at

Clare Tucker is the Managing Director of The Vocational Marketing Academy.  The Vocational Marketing Academy specialises in teaching the basics of marketing through a range of short courses that are delivered online.  Full details are available at


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