Return on investment (ROI) is hardly anything new. And with the growing availability of data big and small and in all shapes and sizes, it's getting increasingly easier to apply metrics to virtually everything a business endeavors to accomplish. Even when hard data is simply not available, the rules of simple logic do apply and can be applied.
If you begin without a well thought out marketing strategy, every tactic is a good one and the value each needs to deliver to the business becomes increasingly difficult. So to avoid this conundrum, it's a worthwhile exercise to align sales goals with an 'allowable' target (the amount you're willing to invest to garner a new lead, a conversion, or completed sale, etc.) from such marketing tactics. This will enable an enterprise to determine what channels are offering the best and most meaningful contribution to the business and ultimately the bottom line. Certainly digital tactics like an email newsletter or display ad can be quantified (think open rates, click-through, page-views, unsubscribes, registrations, etc.). But what does an imposing banner on the back wall at a trade conference deliver or your logo on a badge lanyard? Not a whole lot if all you're doing is checking boxes!
Let's take a presentation at a video technology event made to an audience of prospective media buyers. A simple rule of thumb would be to divide the number of anticipated butts in seats into the cost of 'sponsorship' to come up with a unit cost to reach each individual. You can then determine the number of leads that need to be generated that result in proposals to determine the potential ROI that may be delivered. This 'test of reasonableness' is not the least bit difficult. In fact, it's really valuable in the decision making process.
So in the age of analytics it may be time to start thinking about a more rigorous way to quantify your B2B marketing spend. Otherwise you're simply throwing spaghetti against the back of the wall in hopes that something will stick.