My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Tuesday, Jul 07, 2008

“if you can’t track ROI, it’s often not worth your time/money.”

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If you follow this blog at all you are probably thinking that the title of this post doesn’t sound much like me…and you would be correct.

The title is an except from a larger quote, goodwill and branding are nice, but not easily tracked so direct response pieces would be more effective and that if you can’t track ROI, it’s often not worth your time/money.”, by a very well respected SVP for a super major brand and this person happens to be the mentor for my new friend Queen Latifa (not her real name cause why should she get in trouble cause I like to blog).

Queen Latifa is a super smart and very attractive woman going into her second year of Commerce at Queens University (lots of royalty in this post) and we met when she reached out to me because she thought I was a brilliant marketer with some cool ideas to share…and because I am very handsome (OK I may have made up the handsome part…I mean I am but that may not have been her motivation).

Meeting Queen Latifa has been very rewarding because listening to some of the advice she has gotten has proved to me that there are two schools of thought when it comes to marketing….treat people as people and create emotional experiences to win them over, or treat people like numbers and dollar signs and create programs around that…the sad thing is that it seems that the latter (numbers and dollar signs) is the only thing that is being taught in these schools.

So in the spirit of teaching I am going to share some of the (possibly bad) advice I gave the Queen, including to drop her mentor and to allow me to assume the role because I still appreciate people and know that marketing is still about love

Here is a slightly edited version of our most recent email and if you don’t feel like reading it all you can skip to the end and just read the recap of the advice:

Queen Latifa: One of the major reasons that we changed the approach is because my position mentor felt strongly that customers would view the questions as unauthentic and think “they don’t actually want to get to know me, they just want to see how they can better market to me”. He also argued that goodwill and branding are nice, but not easily tracked so direct response pieces would be more effective and that if you can’t track ROI, it’s often not worth your time/money.

You told me to question everything I see and hear and while I understand that people may be suspicious and view the this email as a marketing ploy, I don’t think that it should be wrong to, as a company, want to know your customers a little better. Obviously if customers believe that you care as a company, they will be more willing to call in with their suggestions and complaints, which will ultimately build a stronger product. After reading the WOM Marketing book you have me by Andy Sernovitz, I want to believe that if you go out of the way to do something nice for your customers, they will talk about it with their friends- BUT- in our society, does that now just feel unauthentic and hokey for a company to want to get to know you?

Saul: Your mentor lost all credibility with me when he said “goodwill and branding are nice, but not easily tracked so direct response pieces would be more effective and that if you can’t track ROI, it’s often not worth your time/money.” – That could be the single worst (in my opinion) advice/statement in business ever…and I mean ever. You should drop him as a mentor and this is what is wrong with some MBA’s. Marketing is about connecting with your customer and offering experiences…sharing stories and creating a warm feeling. If you do that you will have all the sales and ROI/low CPA stuff you can handle because of the work you did initially. Think about all the brands you love and why you love them. Chances are they made a connection to you in some great way that may have seemed like it was designed for you and only you. I keep telling you this and I will say it again. Marketing is not all about numbers it is about love…remember that…everything is about love (and I am not joking…you will see once you start dating) If you love your customers they will love you and your product/service.

· Since you don’t want to be part of a faceless corporation you obviously care and haven’t lost your humanity…that is awesome about you…don’t lose that because that is and what will make you different and special in your career.

Advice Recap

  1. Question Everything – Be anal and ask yourself “Does this make sense? If I was the consumer would this connect with me?
  2. Question Everything again – just because a teacher or someone with a fancy title says it should be this way or that way, make sure you feel it is the right decision for your company and the people you are marketing to…and if it isn’t you have to say something.
  3. Marketing is more than numbers – Companies need to make money to stay open and grow so ROI is important but if you treat people like an acquisition or a number they will feel it and probably not be loyal to you.
  4. Love is a gateway drug – If you are an MBA you may feel the need to split test this but try showing real genuine love to your customers and see what happens…you may be shocked.
  5. Be Creative – ‘Nuff Said

So after reading this…what do you think?

Good Advice?

Bad Advice?

I would love to know what you think!
  1. you know someone completely subscribes to a philosophy when they still preach the same gospel drugged up on cough medicine

  2. Great post, great advice! Of all the Saul Colts in the world, you're the Saul Colt-iest.

    It's amazing to me anyone would pick a marketing strategy or approach because its results are easier to measure than some other, more effective approach (i.e. The Saul Colt Approach(tm)). Um, why not do the effective thing, even though the cause & effect (& ROI) are harder to establish.

    It reminds me of the story about the guy looking for his wallet under the streetlamp because "the light is better here" (even tho he lost is somewhere else).

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