There comes a time when anyone working in marketing has to justify what they’ve done with the money. It’s a well-known fact that marketing budgets are hotly disputed and the first to be axed. The justification process could be as simple as your boss swinging by your desk to ask what you’ve done with all the cash he or she has allocated to you, or a formal review of your activities in front of your peers and the management team. This is not a time for flannel. Any presentation of marketing activities will always go better if packed to the brim with statistics. Specifically, fill it with Return on Investment (ROI) figures.

There has traditionally been much discussion over whether marketing is an art or science. Clearly, there are creative elements to the job. Developing a new look and feel for a brand, or designing a simple direct mailer undoubtedly call for a decent sense of the aesthetic. But, as far as I’m concerned, marketing can be boiled down to a simple scientific formula: Reach x Frequency = Impact. In clearer terms: The number of people from your target audience who see your brand multiplied by the number of times they see it, defines how much impact your brand will have.

The other area in which marketeers can prove themselves as scientists is when it comes to demonstrating ROI. Never let a chance go by to prove where you have affected sales of your product. As marketeers we have to adopt the approach of the detective, ROI sometimes needs to be sniffed out from the darkest corners of the company.

When it comes to identifying the value to your company’s turnover of your investment in promotional goods, there are simple ways to make sure that all your hard work does not go unnoticed:

Always keep a record of who has received what. For example, make sure your tradeshow staff never give any gifts away without getting a business card or a lanyard scan in return.

Keep detailed records. Whether this is on a simple excel spreadsheet or as part of your main customer database, it is vital information. Make it your mission to flag a customer every time they receive something from your stash of goodies.

• If necessary, bribe your salespeople with cold hard cash or chocolate to bring you information about where your goodies have gone, and any prospect who has subsequently made a purchase. A photograph of one of their customers wearing your corporate sweatshirt to work is worth a whole Terry’s Chocolate Orange in my book.

Analyse your data and whenever a customer has made a purchase that you can relate back to some promotional item that they may have received from you, pounce on the data. Bundle it all up into a persuasive summary of the power of promotions for affecting the bottom line and use it like magic dust to add pzzazz to your presentations.

What are your tips for detecting return on investment?