Measuring Marketing: The Importance of “The Look”

March 1, 2011 •

Today, marketing ROI is more measurable than ever.  You can see who has opened your e-newsletters, view the number of impressions for posts on your Facebook fan page, and even track the movement of a mouse over your website.

At Right Source Marketing, we’re big fans of measuring and reporting the right metrics, and, when possible, tying those metrics to revenue. But we also realize that not every piece of marketing has a distinct, measurable ROI.

I’ll demonstrate with a concept from another area of my life, horseback riding. The competitions I ride in are  subjective—a human judge with human flaws (much like your clients/customers) places the riders. When I first started competing, I didn’t understand how someone else who had made obvious mistakes could beat me when I’d ridden very well.

Until I realized that because of my shabby presentation, relative to my competitors, I might as well be riding around the ring with my horse, L.J., looking like this:

My very muddy grey horse. Perfectly happy to be bay.

(That’s L.J. He’s supposed to be white.)

While I never entered the show ring with a horse as dirty as L.J. is in that picture, I didn’t have what any respectable riding coach touts as “the look.” I rode in a goofy looking helmet, wore used riding boots that probably hadn’t been polished since 3 owners before me, and my bridle had been chewed up by the barn goats way more than one too many times.

It’s not that I didn’t have a great coach—Holly Gilmore at Tranquility Manor Farms drilled me on the importance of “the look” relentlessly. But I wasn’t converted until I tried it myself, and the theory held. As soon as I took the time (and, yes, expense) to look like a winner, I started to win.

I thought of “the look” in this context during a conversation about whether or not video marketing is worth the investment. I argued that videos were an important element of a comprehensive marketing campaign, while a friend argued that they weren’t worth the expense. “Show me the numbers to tie videos to revenue,” she said.

Try as I did, I couldn’t find a study or statistic to back up my belief that despite the expense necessary to create a quality video, it’s often a worthwhile investment (though this Salesforce video comes close). However, 41% of B2B Content Marketers use videos.

Why? Partially, “the look.”

B2B marketers and decision makers don’t ask about the ROI of their brand’s logo. They don’t ask about the ROI of having a website that doesn’t look like this.  They don’t ask about the ROI of changing out of their pajamas before a new business meeting.

Before spending exorbitant amounts of money on a video, or any project, you should absolutely ask about ROI. But you should also ask about the value of knowing that you’ve got “the look,” and the confidence that will give you—confidence that will show throughout your business operations, and confidence that is difficult to measure, even if the data guy dies trying.

Yes, maintaining “the look” can be expensive. The graphic designers, the writers, the videographers, the suits, even, in my case, the expensive bleaching shampoo for the white horse. The costs add up. But when you’ve nailed “the look,” man, does it feel good. And the ROI of that feeling is as significant as it is hard to measure.

About the Author

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Bravo Tracy Bravo! If your blog was a horse show, you certainly saddled up the research, jumped into this issue, made your way around the ring, and came out winning a blue ribbon. I am now convinced that “the look” is an important enough factor to marketing a brand without having to require ROI facts to clearly show cost connections. Thank you for giddying up to the GOLD standard on this one.

    – KZ

    • Whew, out of breath as if I’d come out of the show ring thanks to the effectiveness of the metaphors in that comment! And while I’m happy you’ve hopped the fence, you’re still never wrong to ask for ROI and cost connections, as long as you realize that sometimes those connections are qualitative, not quantitative.

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