It’s not just ROI. It’s RELEVANCE!

The other day I was driving home from a family vacation using an iPhone app called “Navigon.”  This is an excellent GPS and mapping application that gets me where I want to go without the expense and hassle of having schlepping another device.

So I was wondering … why am I not using a mapping application from Rand McNally, the dominant market leader in all things maps for decades?  For most of my life a well-worn copy of a Rand McNally atlas of United States maps was a fixture in my car. Can you even name another company that made U.S. road maps?  Certainly, Rand was the gold standard for getting you to where you wanted to go.

The company has a minor entry in the GPS device market and are usually grouped under the “other” category in the analyst reports. A search for Rand McNally in the iTunes app store delivers one sad little entry that allows you to “vote for the best small towns of 2011 — right from your mobile device!” Wow.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

I can imagine the conversation among the Rand McNally executives five years ago … “Digital?  Are you CRAZY??? Do you know what the ROI is on our paper maps?  Why in the world would we ever cut into that profit margin?  Nobody seems to be able to demonstrate an ROI on digital maps!”

It’s probably the same conversation that echoed through the halls of Kodak … “But we make so much money on film!  What is the ROI for sharing digital photos on the Internet?  It’s folly!”

I wonder what the ROI of bankrupt is?

And yet, if you have ever given a speech, a webinar, or a class on social media marketing, I can almost guarantee you have received this question: “But how do we measure the ROI of this stuff?”

Look, I’m a true-blue ROI guy.  Frankly, money is one of my favorite things. I’m a measurement fanatic and a data geek.  But pull up a chair and let me give you a dose of reality here. If you don’t have a digital strategy, your business is going to die.

And by digital, I don’t mean “a website.” In the last two years, 68 percent of the Fortune 100 companies had a year-over-year decline in their website page views. Why?  Because people are not looking for you on websites any more (unless you work for Amazon, eBay or Etsy of course). For most companies, having a website is simply not enough these days.

Every business exists to create shareholder value. But please don’t overlook the possibility of not even existing in two years because you are milking an Excel spreadsheet for all its worth. There are lots of bright people out there that want your company to die. Be them, or hire them.  Just don’t hold on to old business models until the banks are nailing your door shut.

It’s not just ROI. It can’t be just ROI. It’s relevancy. Don’t be Rand.


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