Return on Investment (ROI), perhaps the most important aspect of any marketing plan, must be tracked. Absolutely, positively, MUST be tracked. The reason for this is simple, no one wants to waste money. Traditional forms of marketing can sometimes be difficult to track, especially when traditional marketing meets social media. Community Investment Marketing (CIM), however, is simple to track. Whether it’s foot traffic in your store, clicks on your website, or measurable increases in revenue, CIM provides almost immediate feedback.
Track That Time
According to an interesting blog on HubSpot, the leader in Inbound Marketing, the first thing to do when trying to track ROI with new media is to track time. The blog author suggests an APP to track time spent creating content. This is a great idea, in the begining, but once your CIM strategy is in place, and your community partner is on board, much of that time goes away, the content comes from the community.
Back up, you say. How can I get someone else to write my blogs, tweet about my business, or post on Facebook? Simple, invest in your community. Host events, provide meeting spaces, and sponsor local teams. Every piece of content that comes out of those investments is free marketing.
For example, your business provides space for the local high school robotics club. Very simple for you to do, the only cost involved is the extra electricity used when they are in the building. In return, you ask the kids and their mentors to tweet about the club, to write blogs about the club, and to invite all their friends to come to your business (even after hours) to participate. All of that content, with your branding, your company name, and you didn’t have to track the time it took to create the content. The content should attract customers to your place of business, all you have to do is ask everyone who comes through the door how they heard of you. Don't be surprised if they tell you they learned about your business through a robotics blog written by a student!
Set Goals, Set Goals, Set Goals
You can’t track anything unless there is a goal. It really is that simple. Now, I know, you are saying, sure I can. I spend X, I bring in Y, and therefore it cost X to bring in Y. Nope, that’s not how it works in marketing. In marketing you spend X with the goal of bringing in Z, if you only bring in Y, something went wrong, and if you rolled over to A, something went right.
Here is another example, using CIM of course. Your community partner, a homeless shelter, asks you to sponsor an event to raise capital needed to put on a new roof. You immediately go to your employees, who have helped choose the shelter as your partner, and begin to plan for the event. What should your goal be with this marketing plan? If you answered ‘the cost of the new roof’ you are only partially wrong. The goal of the event is the cost of the roof, the goal of the plan should be 100 new contacts (or a number that makes sense to your business). Some of your employees will be paid for time spent planning the event, easily tracked, but volunteers should staff the event itself. These volunteers will be a mix of your employees and other shelter supporters.
Next, determine the amount of investment you can make to attract 100 new contacts, subtract the cost of the paid time and that is the amount you donate to the event, the remaining overhead can come out of the event income. If everything is planned correctly, with the cost of the roof firmly in mind, this strategy will work. Your ROI is not only easy to track, you determine the percentage before you spend a dime.
Get ‘em Through The Door
A simple Google search of ROI investment tracking tools returns over 13 million hits. Seriously, 13 million. That is how important it is to track your marketing investment. Traditional marketing includes advertising buys in the local newspaper or magazine. This is a very expensive endeavor, but, if a coupon, or the old stand-by “mention the Daily Local News and we'll take 5% off your order ‘ is used, the ROI can easily be tracked. However, with Community Investment Marketing, the cost of those coupons, or mentions, is significantly less expensive.
With CIM, all of that becomes free. Yes, free. How can this be you ask? Simple, everyone who mentions the homeless shelter not only saves 5%, but you will donate another 5% back to the shelter. Guess who gets this word out to the community? The shelter of course, using free or low-cost avenues. Meanwhile, you are also tweeting and Facebooking and blogging about how much fun the roof raising event was and how if you were there, mention the shelter for…you guessed it…a discount!
Every 5% donation is tracked, tied to a purchase, which clearly shows the return.
There are many other incredible benefits to Community Investment Marketing, to learn more, click the link below.