The Tricky Business of Return on Investment (ROI)

Author: Marie Clapper

Our guest columnist is Tim McCarthy tim@thebusinessofgood.org. Tim is president of Workplace Impact (WPI), a marketing firm that specializes in promoting to people at their places of employment. Workplace marketing puts brands to work!

This year, we have more firmly planted our feet in Northwest Arkansas than ever before. We have our own office (at a cool place called 8th & Walton), an account manager, Kate Spencer, and our two CPG sales leaders (Rich White and Caitlin Gallagher) spending more time here than ever.

Two Questions Prospects Often Ask

This team has invited me to many meetings with potential clients, and I’ve learned that 90% of the time those prospects ask us two questions:

  1. “How can you target our audience?” CPG marketers have become brilliant in segmentation, and most media have in turn become excellent at narrowing down to “left-handed mothers whose children are in day care.” Okay, I’m just kidding about left-handed, but you get the point.
  2. “What kind of redemption can we expect?”

People on the Job Are the Targets

employees at workI sometimes feel briefly embarrassed, but my answer to the first question is that WPI is a “one to many” medium, not a one-to-one. That is, we can “only” target geography and guarantee that every person who receives your sample has a job. You won’t only please mothers with kids in childcare; you will please everyone. It’s an uncluttered environment, and sharing is to everyone, not just coupon clippers. Best of all, if this on-the-job person is not a parent with kids in day care, he or she will share your sample with someone who is – a sibling, a friend, a daughter or son. Who better to recommend?

What We Know About Coupon Redemption

On the second question – about redemption — my answer is:

We don’t know . . . and we do know.

What we do know:

  • The brand matters
  • The category matters
  • The offers matter
  • Current brand advertising and marketing matter
  • Creative matters

What we don’t know:

  • How much each factor matters to your (particular) brand and campaign

The Value of Reaching Employees Where They Work

Access to key contacts who share your offer with their associates has inherent value. Brands and retailers have been trying to gain access for at least twice the time I’ve been alive. In the early 20th century, retailers like Sears got traction with payroll stuffers. Reaching employees who worked near their stores was as attractive to marketers in the 1900s as it is today.

When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton famously said, “It’s where the money is.” We say the same about reaching the workplace with offers and samples . . . it’s where the money is.

Learn More About Your Customers

CPG brands also use our medium to learn more about their customers and prospects. We welcome questions on every survey for every campaign.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of  Key Contacts

Finally, reaching into the workplace starts with the key contact, and whether that employer has 50 or 500 employees, that key contact has a lot of clout — especially when he or she is giving out free swag.

Our best clients demand return on investment, so we work with them to find out what specifically they’re looking for and then help them track each test until one works to accomplish their goals.

And while we can’t predict redemption, we are gladly judged on impact.

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