People are impatient. They want the result, and they want it now.
People are also logical. We know big projects take time, and often we won’t see a return on investment (ROI) for months or even years. But that doesn’t mean we want to wait six months or more to see if the project is a success. We want proof along the way.
ROI Cues are small results or metrics that demonstrate progress. They provide a psychological hit that what we’re doing is working, and provide validation to keep going. And ROI Cues are an essential element for creating happy customer relationships.
The Anxiety of Not Knowing
It’s frustrating not being able to see progress. You’ve made a big investment of time or money, or both, but you don’t know if it’s working. Not being able to see progress creates a great deal of anxiety.
I hired a PR firm to launch Sticky Branding (the book). The company started the engagement off strong. They presented a project plan and conducted a thorough discovery process. I was pumped.
Six weeks later, I had lost faith in the firm. I was meeting weekly with the account manager, but I hadn’t conducted a single interview yet. I hadn’t spoken with any influencers or reporters, and I was starting to feel that I had hired the wrong firm.
To the firm’s credit, they were keeping me well informed on their tasks and priorities, but my signal of progress was interviews. I was lacking ROI Cues that proved my investment was working, and that created a ton of anxiety.
ROI Cues Demonstrate It’s Working
When you brush your teeth you feel a tingling sensation. That tingle is the ROI Cue.
Tracy Sinclair, brand manager for Oral- B and Crest Kids Toothpaste, explains in The Power of Habit, “We can make toothpaste taste like anything — blueberries, green tea — and as long as it has a cool tingle, people feel like their mouth is clean. The tingling doesn’t make the toothpaste work any better. It just convinces people it’s doing the job.”
A ROI Cue doesn’t have to be logical, but it has to be tangible. It has to demonstrate the product or service is actually doing its job. With the PR firm my cue was interviews. We may not have been at the interview phase of the project, but the missing behavior made me doubt all the other work the agency was doing.
What cues do your customers crave? These will be tasks, metrics, or results that provide a small indicator that the work is actually being performed.
ROI Cues Instill Commitment
When you know a project is working you’ll stick with it.
Dieters will weigh themselves daily. When they see the number move down, even just a little bit, it replenishes their commitment to stick with the program for one more day.
Great results — outcomes you can brag about and post as case studies — don’t happen overnight. They take time and effort, and you need your client’s commitment to see the project through to the end.
Provide your clients a ROI Cue to enhance their commitment. Give them a small indicator that they can proactively monitor and see that demonstrates progress is being achieved.