The strange story of how the agency owner won more business by no longer measuring ROI

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We all know that in many aspects of the marketing world, return on investment (ROI) is hard to measure and whilst it might win you business, it also helps you lose it (by not delivering or not being able to accurately measuring it).

A conversation about ROI is often linked to a purchase decision (i.e. if the client thinks they will get good ROI then they might buy from you).  

We all try to quantify ROI if we can, which can be particularly challenging if we are selling something like PR. Yet is this the best way to get a client to buy?  How do we connect emotion to this conversation? To be honest, we probably don’t!

We would be better served talking to the client about what their cost of inaction (COI) is because that’s where the emotional decision making will take place.

You see, if you are really selling something that cures a pain for a client (have a read of this blog on the subject) then you can also talk about the cost to their business if they take no action?  

This discussion is much more real to your client and also laden with emotion.  Thus it’s much more like to get the client moving and help them make the decision to buy from you.

Let’s take a moment to consider why.  There are 2 main types of motivation that move us on in life:

ROI is a toward motivation (something I aspire to, that i wish to move towards)

COI is an away from motivation (I need to move away from my current situation because it’s painful, precarious and a risk to my business)

Can you see how COI conversations are much more likely to result in the client taking action NOW and purchasing your solution?

I fell foul of this in the early years of running my agency coaching business until I decided I needed to better understand my target customer.  I spent time researching and talking with my target audience, developed my customer personas/avatars and consequently started developing content (including my website) from the customer’s perspective.

A key learning here is that if you really understand your client, it is much easier to address their pain with your solution.  

So here are 3 things you can action today:

  1. Go and talk to existing and past clients and find out what their number 1 pain is today and what they are most afraid of in their business.  You might be surprised to find it isn’t what you think! And when you start hearing the same comments, you know you have hit onto something.
  2. Look at your website’s home page and make sure it starts by recognising your target audience’s core pain because then they are going to think ‘oh you get me, tell me more’ and consequently click on the ‘About Us’ page – where you can start telling them how wonderful you are.
  3. Everytime you write a piece of content (such as this blog) consider which of your customer personas/avatars (or buyer persona) you are talking with.  Imagine they are sitting across the table from you and you are having a chat. I bet that will alter how you write!

Once I had this understanding in place it become much easier to engage with my target market and resulted in higher win rates and increased revenues.  So I find it strange that agencies typically only talk about ROI when selling, rather than COI (or both!).

What are your experiences with this?  I would love to hear about your views in this area.

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