How not to measure ROI, and grow more

Today I’m sitting in the office, sipping a hot cup of tea (not coffe – it’s my British side coming out) and working on updating the marketing documentation I created at the start of 2015. I have come a long way since then, growing in knowledge and experience and better understanding how things work. When I started out in, I had some experience in digital marketing from my previous jobs and I had taken a few self-study courses, but I had never held a position that was mainly focused on marketing.

That was definitely not a problem, as I firmly believe that learning by doing, reading about what other people do and taking some self-study courses, is the best way to gain knowledge and keep an open mind. Much better than having a degree (which I do have, but not in marketing). And that’s what it’s all about, keeping an open mind and understanding what really does work for a company.

Why follow traditional marketing rules?

For, a company in which the CEO bins cost control, budgets and set visions in favour of living in the present, creating empathy maps and value propositions, following traditional marketing rules is just a waste of time. In many of the self-study courses I have taken about digital marketing, and especially about social media marketing, there is always a large section on SEO, and an even larger section on ROI. I learned all about it…and then ditched it.

Say good bye to measuring ROI

ALARM! Some marketers will now be thinking that I know nothing about marketing, and that I cannot work without measuring ROI. But guess what? I can, and it works. I do marketing without a budget, I don’t talk about our products or services, I don’t think about SEO and I definitely don’t measure ROI. I guess I’m more aligned with growth hacking than marketing in the traditional sense, but I think it’s more than that. is based on trust, and the CEO has given me the company credit card and trusts me to make marketing budget decisions wisely. No plans, no approvals, just do it. And I think so far in 2015 I have spent less than €500 on social media marketing, and got really good results with it.

So what do I measure?

Our culture is far too obsessed by numbers. Number of followers, number of likes, number of leads, and number of $ or €. Life is not all about numbers and dollars. It’s about values, it’s about positive referrals and people talking to each other in real life.


I once read an article in which the author claimed that people’s behaviour online is so erratic that all the metrics and analytics don’t mean anything and are a waste of time and money. I have since forgotten where I read this, but it does make sense, at least for the company I work in. What I measure is not numbers, but facts:

  • we have a score of current clients who have admired us for our unconventional online marketing activity, and have referred us to new clients
  • we have at least three new clients this year who have chosen us over other, more established software companies because of what we communicate through our social media profiles
  • we constantly inspire other software companies (yes, our competitors) to follow our example and do weird and wonderful things – like celebrating new team players by buying cheese
  • for under €500, we have gained a reputation of being different and on the cutting edge of the market, not for our technical ability, which is good but not unique, but for our strong values and actions.

Our ROI is the reality of having satisfied clients, current and new, who keep giving us more work and keep talking positively about us. These are not numbers derived from leads and budgets, these are real life people connecting in the real world, and the value of this is much higher than any calculated ROI.

We have a saying here in the Alps that I think fits really well:

a pig won’t grow by measuring it. Neither will a company.


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