Return of investment (ROI) is one of those business phrases that when learned gets thrown around all the time. 

It’s like someone returning from a trip to Italy for the first time and pronouncing pasta names with an accent. People want you to know what they now know and how “well” they know it. You know?

And hey, that’s fine. “Fettucini” sounds more interesting with added inflections and emphases anyway. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for inserting the word ROI into every sentence involving marketing.

Not because ROI isn’t important, of course. Especially as a small business owner, you have to be cautious about the initiatives you invest in and how they’ll pay off. You shouldn’t, however, position ROI as a blocker for trying new channels and creating different types of content.

The Importance of Quality, Focus, and Building Trust

The reality of digital marketing today is saturation. There’s an abundance of content and only so much space available in any given feed.

As a small business, you might initially be tempted to spread your efforts across as many different channels as possible. The return on your investment of time and money seems greater when you’re trying to reach as many people as possible, right?

What about simply focusing on the right people though? What if you put your marketing effort into testing, trying, failing, and perfecting on the channels that make the most sense for your customers? 

The Pareto Principle is a great way to approach answering these questions. Generally speaking, the rule suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.

In application, review your Google Analytics and you might notice that 80% of your website traffic is driven by 20% of your web pages. Or that 20% of your customers drive 80% of your sales. Or that 20% of your product offerings drive 80% of your sales.

No matter how you slice it, the Pareto Principle can be a great way to review your tactics and get more strategic in your approach across everything from product development to marketing.

Speaking of marketing, take a look at which channels are currently driving ROI (e.g., traffic, email signups, purchases) relative to your goals. In doing so, you might identify channels that hadn’t previously been on your radar. Or channels you’ve only been investing minimal time and money into.

If you were to narrow your marketing focus to only these channels — at least to start — and improve your inputs there, think about how much better the outputs could be. Certainly more than what comes from building a strategy based on trends and “best practices” alone.

Good marketing these days, no matter your business size, is all about the community fostered. You have to listen to your audience, provide them with quality content that helps them solve a problem, and develop a sense of trust over time.

Instead of always trying to do more, focus on how you can do more centered around less — around what’s most impactful. It’s a long game for sure, but one that can pay off big when given the time to grow.