When Does It Make Sense to Do a Program with 0% ROI

The Highest Performing Direct Mail Programs I Have Seen – Part 2

I probably should have started with this one last time but didn’t. The absolutely highest performer I have ever seen, from a response standpoint, was for a survey. Why? Because the client was giving away a coat with a retail price of $250. The first 100 to respond received a free coat, but they had to agree to provide feedback on the coat.

This case demonstrates how misleading response vs. ROI can be. On the surface, the program had a 90%+ response rate. However, because nothing was being sold, the ROI technically was 0%. So, if you were to evaluate this campaign strictly on the basis of ROI, it was a loser.

Here’s the bigger lesson: The feedback that was gleaned from those who received the coats was used to drive product development and to develop case study data and testimonials that could be used to sell product. In the years since this test, they have sold a lot of coats. So, I think you could safely argue this campaign was actually a big winner.

This got me thinking. What kinds of 0% ROI campaigns might actually make sense to run? Here are a few I thought of:

  • (If you have dealers, agents or franchisees) Asking your network what programs/materials they like and dislike and which items they will use or not use, so that you can do stuff that will be used.
  • Asking your customers to provide evaluative feedback on your service or product offerings.
  • Asking customers for contact information so you can conduct ongoing dialogue with them.

The lesson learned from the story above is that it may make sense to provide significant incentive to answer if the information you gain is valuable enough and will translate into greater sales in the long term.

Can you think of any other 0% ROI campaign ideas?

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