In a perfect world, marketing is an investment.
You spend $80 on ads that bring in $800 of revenue. Yay!
But the math isn’t always so clear.
Especially if you’re not running ads and haven’t set up elaborate conversion tracking, it can be hard to know exactly what investments are getting you what return.
What’s the value of that last LinkedIn post?
The one before it?
What’s the value of collecting fresh testimonials?
What’s the value of hiring someone to write clear, compelling copy for your website?
That last one hits home, because I want to make sure my clients are getting a good value when they work with me (and writing clear, compelling copy for websites is a lot of what I do).
Here’s the thing: Most small businesses don’t have enough sales volume to track and attribute changes in sales directly to changes on the website.
The big software companies can test the impact of every button color and font tweak — but not us mortals.
So I like to help my potential customers think about whether spending money on my services (or anything else, for that matter) is a Realistically Returnable Investment (RRI).
(Full disclosure: I just made that term up, with help from my friend ChatGPT. Great use-case for AI — I knew what I wanted to say, it helped me brainstorm until I found my favorite word combo.)
Here’s how it works, in case it’s useful to you, either as a seller or a buyer:
➡️ We look at the amount of money they get from the average customer. (To be conservative, I typically stick to just the first year of income from that customer, not the full lifetime customer value, which might be higher.)
For a realtor, each new customer can bring in $10,000+.
For my client selling coloring books, each one brings more like $20.
➡️ Then we think about how many additional new customers they’d need to cover the cost of their spruced-up copy.
For the realtor, just one would do.
For the coloring books, it would take more like 150.
➡️ Finally, we get realistic about whether they can expect that many more conversions from their new copy, all else being equal.
Realtor: ✅ Pretty much guarantee it.
Coloring books: 🤷Could be, depends on how you’re driving traffic to the page. More discussion ensues.
Am I guaranteeing they’ll make their money back?
No, this is not something I can guarantee.
And of course, the “hard numbers” aren’t the only thing of value you get from my service.
(One example: The feeling of coherence and being accurately reflected in the world is really powerful.)
But if you and I both agree that spending money to work with me is a Realistically Returnable Investment, I’m going to be able to sleep at night.
And you will too.
And if it’s not?
Then let’s not, because I care about your success way more than I care about taking your money.
PS – Think a fresh, clear website that sounds like the CURRENT you is an RRI for you? Let’s chat.
PPS – I’m on a listening tour right now, following my own advice and focusing my binoculars. I’m interviewing consciousness coaches this month. Is that you? Or do you know someone who makes their living that way (life coach, executive coach, etc)? I’d love to chat — only questions, no pitch, I promise. Hit reply if you’re up for talking or know someone who might be.
This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.