Yes it's a good idea, will it make lots of money? No, that's not the point.

In many businesses, it often seems like three quarters of the total workforce are intent on measuring return on investment (ROI) by sales figures. Interestingly, the brands that are creating the biggest bow waves in the industry are those that recognize other ways of measuring return. In particular, when brands have established that some returns can’t be measured at all, they have seen real and effective business.

When brands have established that some returns can’t be measured at all, they have been able to back new and industry-changing propositions.

The reason that the conventional measure of ROI is an issue is because it prevents businesses taking real risks. When a new idea or a market leading concept is proposed, many of us are guilty of judging the value of the idea based on the predicted ROI i.e. predicted sales. It is this sales prediction that we need to recognize for what it is; a literal prediction. For me this prediction shouldn’t bring any more weight in the decision making process than say, a prediction that the idea will or wont be successful. Unfortunately this traditional measure of ROI is still our way of quantifying and managing the risk of a new idea.

Departments such as Marketing or Digital teams are experienced, in measuring the effectiveness of campaigns used to sell their products. We know this due to their prolific counting of interactions with specific content pieces, click through rates or the averaging of likes for Instagram posts. The question then is, why aren’t we applying more creative ways to measure or predict the ROI when any given concept is proposed? Can we take those analytical skills found in consumer facing departments and apply them to evaluating internal design propositions?

In my opinion businesses should be looking at new propositions and recognizing that the value or measure of success might not lie in the sales figures. On the contrary it is in other measures of success that could see the product as part of a cultural shift in consumer behavior or a change in consumer perceptions of the brand. It could be that the project is so directional that the existing sales channels don’t buy into it. This should be regarded as good news. Should the company look for new routes to market? Yes. Can the proposition still be considered to be successful, despite the fact the brand might have to find a new sales channel? Yes.

Is it time we adjusted our approach to ROI?


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oliver royce