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November 10, 2008
Proper Planning Key To Setting ROI Expectation
Everyone is asking for justification and what have you done for me lately. And, they’re correct.
Whether you are in-house or on the agency side, money is not freely flowing to just any old idea. You need to look at two key areas to sell your recommendation and ensure its success: Up-front planning, and borrowing from your experience or the experience of others.
Before establishing return on investment for any short- or long-term recommendation, proper up-front planning is key to success. An online colleague, Greg Brooks, once posted in a discussion group the below guideline for business and communication planning:
1.     Mission: Reason for being; purpose
2.     Goal: On-going behavioral target related to the mission.
3.     Objective: Measurable step supporting the goal. Achieving an objective consumes resources.
4.     Strategy: The approach chosen to achieve an objective; the set of activities or projects designed to achieve the objective.
5.     Tactic: An activity or project that supports the strategy.
6.     Task: A discrete, measurable step that is part of the tactic.
Look at that third step: Measurable objectives. You can’t gauge the success of your effort without knowing what you want to accomplish. You won’t know that you’ve accomplished what you want unless you know who it looks like. It needs to be something concrete, often something you can measure.
You could be seeking to increase Website traffic (XX% increase over previous 12-month average, or something similar); calls into a toll-free telephone number, or inquiries via an email address or a Website contact form; it could be advertising impressions; editorial circulation; or even increased sales.
For a concerted marketing communications effort or campaign, you can’t easily look back to see how well or poorly you did if you don’t have something to measure.
Once you have your recommendation laid out, you still need to justify it. You can’t just say, “Trust me.” If you’ve been involved in a similar project previously, you can use that experience to justify and set ROI expectations with either of the following:
·         Hard-core ROI. Whether you show actual numbers or a percent change, real numbers that show what your employer or client can expect are easy to understand.
·         Non-specific expectation. Okay, you don’t have hard-core numbers or percentages. You, however, can say that what you recommend should produce a significant, notable, slight, moderate — or other descriptive term — increase or decrease.
If you haven’t been involved in a similar project before, there are a couple resources you can use to educate your boss or client, sell your recommendation and establish some ROI expectation. For the below, you’re simply borrowing from the experience of others:
·         Case studies. Other companies or examples of what you propose that were successful. It’ll help your employer or client visualize what you propose by seeing successful outcomes of similar work.
·         Studies. Show that the best in class, successful, industry leaders or big companies are doing what you propose.
There are different ways to set expectations and show ROI. Before you can do so, however, you have to know what you are “returning.” Ultimately, that can only be done with solid, up-front planning. And, there’s always a good ROI on that.

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Michael  Driehorst, president and founder of Diamond Communications, is a proven public relations professional who knows how to develop the right set of strategies and matching tactics to achieve communication objectives for the right target audience. After an early career as a newspaper journalist, Mike has worked in public relations and marketing communications since 1994. He has been active in social media marketing since 2005; read his blog.

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