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While participating at a content marketing event last week, the head of social of a Fortune 500 company came to find me after my talk. Here is how our conversation went:
Him: Loved your talk. I want to build up our activity in influencer marketing but it’s hard to secure the resources. The ROI is unclear and unless we can project an ROI, I can’t sell it in.
Me: Fair enough. How do you spend your budget today?
Him: About 20% in content marketing and 80% in social ads, mostly Facebook.
Me: I’m curious about the ROI of your social ads…
Him: Honestly, not great at all…
Me: But you can easily measure success (or lack there of in this instance).
Him: Correct. Well sort of. We measure referral traffic from ads and impressions. We just don’t see them moving the needle on sales.
Me: Just that I get this straight, you’re spending 80% of your social budget on something that doesn’t work because you can sort of measure the ROI? And what your measurements are telling you is that the ROI stinks, right?
Him: I guess…
Me: Have you considered reinvesting some of that budget into new activities that could show a better ROI, be it influencer marketing or else? You’d need to make sure to set aside some of that budget to measure performance. Just as it is for everything marketing, ROI starts with measuring success and iterating.
Though somewhat surreal for the startup guy I am, this conversation is not that surprising. As Clay Christensen highlighted a long time ago, inertia is a company’s strongest ally in good times and its worst enemy in times of disruption. 86% of marketers assess that marketing has changed more in the last 5 years than in the 50 years preceding. There’s no question that marketing is in the midst of a chasm as we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.
So why invest in influencer marketing? Because until you take the jump, you will still be in the business of solving obsolete problems…