Once upon a time, retailers used splashy advertising to sell to customers.  What was splashy then, may not be splashy now, but the goal was always the same: To sell.

Sears was an example of a company that, year after year, put out a holiday catalogue with the goal of getting customers to buy from them for the holidays.  The Sears Catalogue lasted through several decades due partially to some eye-catching splash. – A full colour spread, thick as an encyclopedia. The ingenious part was the tradition it created.  People became in the habit of circling pictures of the gifts they wanted for Christmas using a pen (You know, those long cylinder sticks with ink inside). Entire families marked what they wanted in the catalogue and presto: Shopping became easy.  Buy it all at Sears! Or just order it off the catalogue. It was an ingenious marketing strategy that worked for many years. Even when Sears stopped its catalogue and closed its doors, people cried, reminiscing about the forced removal of what became a tradition. – To receive the Sears catalogue in the mail and the excitement that ensued.  What was Sears’s ROI from that strategy? Decades of profits. Yes, Sears eventually met its demise, but one can’t deny that it sure had a long run.

The retailers of today who are at the forefront of the industry are trying to embrace digital marketing strategies, but without the ironclad focus on sales that a lot of the older companies did.  I guess one could argue; if your ROI is measured by leads generated or number of clicks (people who’ve noticed your brand) than you’ve succeeded. That’s great except, if your company doesn’t receive revenue, at some point your job will be on the line regardless of how you’ve defined your ROI.

Roots Canada took digital marketing to the hilt last year by investing in a splashy Roots Northern Light digital experience for the 2017 holiday season.  It was a visual masterpiece and boasted using Canadian artists to combine live musical performances with video technology and e-commerce.  They termed the campaign as an immersive holiday gift guide for the digital age. Using the “Roots Live” app, you could scan the runway where models were showcasing Roots attire and instantly purchase products on your mobile device. – Pretty cool.  Love the technology.

Read more: You may like one of my latest blog posts Enough Fluff. – It’s time to sell and take it to the bank!

The experience was attended in person by about 600 guests.  The Roots Canada Facebook Event reached over 170,000 people and the digital campaign reached more than 1 million people overall, earning more than 8 million digital impressions.

Getting back to the topic of ROI, I’d be curious to know how many sales were generated.  One can easily read about the social media ramification from their massive and costly effort, but there is little information as to how it affected sales.  I truly hope it was a huge success for them, but my gut feeling says that it was more impression gathering than sales triggering.

How do you define ROI?  Is it with digital impressions or with sales?  As a marketing manager, speaking ‘social’ and branding is not nearly enough.  Many C-level executives are starting to see through this. If you don’t have a selling action plan or feel that selling is not your department, you may find yourself looking for job opportunities sooner than you think.  What C-levels like to see is uplift in sales. – Not impressions. Why not be the marketing champion of your company? Define ROI as sales. Market to sell and have an effect on sales. You can still do that digitally and make use of the latest technology.  It’s not just for social media. That’s the beauty about technology – Its versatility. After all, it’s about the cash, not the splash.