The Wizard of Oz and the ROI ruby slippers you don’t know you have

by JV Douglas

“No my dear, I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad Wizard.”

It has been at least 35 years since I sat on the carpet at my uncle’s house and watched the big reveal of what remains one of the most transformative stories of all time: The Wizard of Oz.

Now, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it… so if you’re just about to head home and fire it up on Netflix, please skip the next few pars.

Here’s a quick recap for everyone else: by the end of the film the witch is dead, the winged monkeys are stoked, and our merry band of adventurers return to the Wizard to claim their rewards.

But it turns out that nothing is as it seemed. In fact, everything they thought was true was WRONG.

The wizard is not a wizard, but some kind of explorer-come-scientist who got a bit lost on a ballooning trip.

The cowardly Lion is as brave as the rest of us.

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The apparently heartless Tin Man is an emotional sooky-puss.

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The nominally brainless Scarecrow is surprisingly bright.

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And to top it all off, Dorothy’s entire adventure was pointless because all she needed to get back home was her ruby slippers, which she’s been wearing since accidentally killing their previous owner by dropping a house on her head.

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Get to the point!

But that’s enough nostalgia for one blog. The reason I’m taking you on this trip down memory lane is that most content marketers are EXACTLY like our intrepid explorers of Oz.

We’re wandering aimlessly through some kind of dataland we don’t really understand, in search of something we think we need, when in actual fact we’re carrying the answers with us all the time.

We’re constantly being asked to show value for our efforts. We’re forever being challenged to show content ROI on this blog series or those social posts, that podcast or those videos.

But rather than reporting on what we already know – which is what we spent, and what we earned – we go off seeking the numbers we think we need rather than what we already have.

Things get confusing because we pay for pretty reports with numbers on traffic, engagement, likes, and followers. We actually pay for this guff! This guff that provides so little of what we actually need to demonstrate our return on investment (ROI).

An awesome piece of content, promoted and amplified in the right way, might result in a massive lift in web traffic, social likes and shares – but if it doesn’t also result in a lift in sales then we’re surely missing something.

How to: Creating content that resonates

Web and social traffic tells us nothing about the actual impact we’re having on the bottom line – it tells us nothing about revenues or sales, or return customers.

So why do we track stuff we don’t need?

Because, just like our intrepid explorers of Oz, we’ve ended up searching for things we think we need rather than using what we have.

The ruby slippers are our budgets on the left foot and sales revenues on the right; all we need to do is tap them together and say the right words.

You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

I have?

Why didn’t you tell her before?

Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

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Yes – I can see you frowning and shaking your head, and yes, in some cases web traffic, shares and likes are an important measure. But only if these numbers are mapped to content ROI.

If you can compare campaigns based on what they cost and what they achieved, then you’ll be able to demonstrate the real value of your efforts and make a meaningful assessment of what you’ve achieved.

If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again… l won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, l never really lost it to begin with. Is that right?

That’s all it is!

But that’s so easy!

Yes, it is.

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