We’ve all heard it a hundred times in a hundred different contexts.

“How do we measure ROI?”

“I need to prove ROI.”

“How do we drive a greater ROI?”

“We are an ROI-driven business.”

And the answers to those questions all have to do with revenue, eyeballs, impressions, and sales analytics.

In a recent casual conversation with a friend, Bruce Dundore, partner in the brand consultation and consulting firm, The Fundamental Group, we were chatting about how to get people to think differently about ROI and he offhandedly said, “You mean get people to view Return on Inspiration instead…”.  And I was like, “S!#%, yes!!!”

So, what if, for a moment, we changed the word from INVESTMENT to INSPIRATION?  What if we dared to consider intrinsic and immeasurable value over (or at least equally!!!) financial value? What if, instead of a prospect immediately flipping to the last page of a proposal containing the investment details, they were fully engaged in the creativity, the unique ideas put forth, and the excitement conveyed in the deck? 

I’ll tell you one thing. The dialogue between clients and agencies would start out (and end up!) dramatically different as would the experience.

When someone attends an event or engagement, their emotions are wrapped up in those moments.  The individual “feels” something. It doesn’t matter if it cost $10 or $1,000 to deliver – and frankly, that person doesn’t care…as long as he/she/they walk away changed and inspired in some special way.

Leadership coach, Tony Martignetti describes it this way: “Return on Inspiration is a term that captures a measurement of what you get when you choose to use inspiration to motivate and engage…” He goes on to relate it specifically to “yourself and your employees.”  But take that same measurement and apply it to deciding whether or not – and how — to create an experience for employees, customers, clients, or members.

I’m not suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and not have some metrics around your investment but untethering inspiration from the final decision-making process immediately backs you into a corner and shuts out creativity.

LA-based brand design and strategy agency, Starmen, calls it “the better ROI”. And we couldn’t agree more.

When you make that mind shift, a world of opportunity opens up.  The ability to tell stories, engage an audience and bring them into yours, and share what you stand for.  If, as Starmen posits, “the brands that strike deepest – and stick around longest – are the ones that are crafted to inspire,”then how does that same philosophy impact the experiences you deliver? How will the activations you create impact people? Make them feel something? Spark their curiosity? Challenge their pre-conceptions? Move them to action?

Yes, there might be an argument to be had connecting how much you spend to how great an experience you can deliver but it’s all relative and it shouldn’t be the primary starting place. Inspiration drives results so that should lead the way.

In Googling a typical ROI investment calculator, it’s very straightforward and pragmatic – and [oh, so very] measurable:

And that final percentage – whatever it is your organization uses as a baseline – is either hit, missed, or exceeded – and you measure your outcome and future plans based on that.

I think about what Return on Inspiration calculator might look like…

Note to self:  Please do not share this with my finance team! LOL!

Inspiration drives results. Inspiration has longevity. Inspiration goes hand-in-hand with aspiration. Inspiration moves the needle.

So, what’s your ROI gonna be?

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