The next time someone asks about the ROI of your marketing campaign, ask if long-term cashflow is important to them. ROI is a financial metric developed to measure the performance of short-term investments. In simpler terms, it’s your return on investment: how much you revenue you return from your investment.
Yes, your marketing activity (and all activity) needs to be tied to commercial results. But short-term growth, the kind you measure with an ROI metric, is only one element of growth and usually not the most important one. Spending all of your time, money, and resources here might improve your campaigns, but it might not improve your actual offering, innovation, or long-term cashflow. ROI only measures short-term return. ROI can put your marketing strategy in a box. It limits innovation because it’s
based on short-term thinking and scarcity, hoping for low risk and high reward. Not all marketing activity should be measured on this narrow basis.
But the primary role of a powerful marketing strategy isn’t just to get a quick ROI –– it’s to drive sustainable, long-term growth. It’s to build a relevant and highly differentiated brand, and a powerful marketing machine to grow it. The keyword here is “build.”
ROI is just one layer of your business. Marketing is about building. It’s laying bricks down in the form of valuable content, audience connection, and consistent messaging.
Of course, this is not as easy or simple as calculating short-term ROI. But that’s because it’s much bigger and much more important than that.
Sales = Short-term Cashflow. Marketing = Long-term Cashflow
Sales is about driving short term cashflow while marketing is about driving growth and long-term cashflow. If you are asking marketing to do the job of sales (and measuring it in the same way), what’s the purpose of having marketing to begin with? You might as well just roll it up under sales (which many B2B businesses do anyway).
Sales has a role. Marketing has a role. Make sure you’re managing, focusing, and investing in
both properly. ROI is not the one-size-fits all, holy grail efficacy metric much of the industry has come to believe it is. We’ve come to accept the ROI question, but we should challenge it. If you only focus on short- term returns, you’re neglecting long-term cashflow –– which we’re guessing whoever asked you the ROI question would care about.