I have this really totally spiffy radacool awesome idea, now all I need to do is get someone to buy into. Oh crap, they want to know what the ROI on it is. What do I tell them now?
Well do you know what the ROI [Return on Investment] is? Is there a real dollar ROI? Is it a hard dollar ROI? Soft dollar ROI? Do you know the difference between soft dollar and hard dollar?
If you can’t answer these questions never fear we’ll go after it Hong Kong Phooey style. Yah! Hah hoo! And a rinkey-dinkey doo to you!
For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong Phooey it is a American animation that aired between 1974 – 1975. It only ran for 16 episodes and was Hanna-Barbera’s contribution to the Kung-Fu craze that was sweeping the country at the time.
So Why is Hong Kong Phooey Important to ROI
Hong Kong Phooey is important because it filled a need and generated both Soft Dollar ROI and Hard Dollar ROI. That is to say, it helped Hanna-Barbera’s bottom line by generating spreadsheet worthy dollars and their market share by creating a disposable character that people could love while the kung-fu craze was chopping its way through the U.S.
When Hanna-Barbera decided to create Hong Kong Phooe, the number one super guy, little did they know that they’d be creating a pop culture sensation that would still be making them money today. What they did know was that they needed to capitalize on the kung-fu craze and they needed to do it in a fashion that would target their audience. I’m sure their marketing designers and cartoonist sat down to design up an expendable series that they most likely new would go away as soon as the kung-fu craze went away.
The Hard Dollar
The Hard Dollar is pretty much any dollar amount that effects the bottom line and is clearly track-able. In other words, you can literally see the money if you went to the bank and pulled it out.
Hanna Man this kung-fu stuff is on fire! Look at this YouTube video [Hanna would of been slinging some serious YouTube if they had it back then because he was just cool like that.]
BarberaMan, that was some funky jammin’. We need some sort of smooth toon to capitalize on this. Get our designers, cartoonist and marketers on this so we can crank out some money.
So the designers, cartoonist, and marketing department set about creating Hong Kong Phooey to capitalize on a trend. They set about converting a soft dollar opportunity into a hard dollar bottom line.
The Soft Dollar
The Soft Dollar is that thing that doesn’t always translate into a real dollar amount. It’s that thing that you know you need to do to make the hard dollar but you can’t usually justify it with a spreadsheet.
Let’s take a different look at this as designers. We were given the task to come up with something engaging and would place us in a position to generate potential earned revenue as well as earned revenue from advertising dollars. What do you do?
Well in the case of Hana-Barbera designers it was probably comparitively easy for them to convince the decision makers to do a 16 episode run of Hong Kong Phooey but what do you do in a not so apparent soft dollar situation? You improvise.
Most companies aren’t going to release their soft dollar numbers / activities to their competitors, i.e. you, so how do you prove that something like social media is valuable. Let’s make it even more challenging. Let’s say your in a B2B business and you’re trying to prove the value of social media. After all “We’ve got everyone that we know of and worth going after.” so we don’t need to get any more. Right? Wrong.
As a designer working in the marketing, website design, SEO, and similar activities it is your job to position your client to where if they have every client they can possibly get then you need to position them as a knowledge leader so that when they release a new product your client will be in a position to garner more earlier adopters. After all, your client knows what they are doing so the product must be good automatically.
Proving the Value of the Soft Dollar
How do you prove the value of the soft dollar? There are lots of ways but most of these ways can be argued against by the decision makers. What do you do then? Prove it to them. That’s right, prove it.
Here’s an example of how I prove the value of soft dollar. I own a start up publishing company called 42wd Publishing. Two things make 42wd Publishing important. The first being that I’m very passionate about it and the learning opportunities it has provided me. The second is that it’s a testing ground for the soft dollar techniques and tactics I recommend to clients.
For instance, I made a very powerful and boat rocking statement about SEO. Parts of it were listened to and parts were past over. I wasn’t satisfied with the out come of course so I embarked on proving it. Here are the results of my SEO strategy for Google searches, as of the writing of this post, in the form I recommended to a particularly large client of mine.
publishing: 1st page
42wd: 1st page
42wd publishing: 1st page
doc: 2nd page [Good but not crushing the competition yet]
harvard: 1st page
design: more than 5 pages in [I’ll have to work on this one harder]
doc harvard design: 1st page
doc harvard: 1st page
doc design: 5th page [Need to push harder on this one too]
harvard design: 1st page [Satisfactory but need to push it harder]
Note: Some of these rankings are very volatile but before you get to critical look at the terms I’ve targeted.
If you look at the terms and think about just how hard some of them are you’ll see that this is dramatic proof of my soft dollar SEO recommendation. My SEO method is pure White Hat. My SEO design is specifically targeting Google Panda’s publicly released information and some personal theories on how Panda ranks sites behind the scenes.
The Proof is in the Pudding
FYI, the above is incorrect and makes more sense when quoted correctly. If you want read more about it click here.
Why should I bother to go through all of this effort. Simply put, we live in a world of data. I feel comfortable in stating that 98% of our choices are made on identifiable data. The other 2% is data we may not remember that contributes to our gut feel / instincts. By getting 42wd Publishing related pages ranked this high it provides overwhelming proof that my soft dollar ROI is worth the effort put into it. When a client says, “What’s the ROI?” I can show them live. What better proof of soft dollar ROI is there?