Back in the early days of Marketing accountability, when we were first asked – primarily by people in Finance – to be accountable, those of us in the profession reached for our ever-present, easily within-reach Merriam-Webster Dictionary and looked up the word accountability, finding the definition as “to account for.” Ah ha, we surmised, “they” want to know how much we are spending, as well as where, and on what. After we starting counting what we did and how much it cost, a new set of questions surfaced, mostly around the central question of, “how are these investments making a difference to the business?”
Decades later, it seems this remains the central question. Research in the area of Marketing Performance Measurement and Management continues to reveal that connecting Marketing investments to business results is still challenging for many marketers. In fact, studies by CMO.org and Forbes Insight indicate that the emphasis on marketing accountability will persist into the foreseeable future.
Let’s take a step back and revisit the meaning of Marketing accountability.
What is Marketing Accountability – and Where to Begin?
Marketing accountability is a broad concept that reflects Marketing’s ability to explain the basis for its actions. We believe that accountability must have a computational aspect and cover a range of Marketing capabilities, processes, and metrics. We find that many Marketing professionals are trying to address accountability by adding analytical tools and marketing technology.
The most sophisticated data collection and analysis can be completely undermined by the lack of proper alignment and poor selection of metrics. To determine what to measure, start by knowing what business needle you are expected to impact, what we call business outcomes, and how this impact will be measured. Only when you know the answer to this can you begin to count what matters.
When you start, as Stephen Covey says, “with the end in mind” rather than starting with your tactics and activities, you will be able to create what we call direct line-of-sight between your Marketing investments, activities and the business outcomes. With this approach, Marketing can clarify the strategic intent of all the investments it makes, determine the appropriate measure and communicate the degree to which Marketing delivers on its commitments.
The best way to approach Marketing performance management, accountability and measurement is to see it as a continuous, repeatable process designed to help you measure, analyze and learn so that you can make more informed decisions and successfully produce more and better predictable business outcomes.
This approach is the only way to ensure what you count really matters and use the measures to improve and prove the value of Marketing. And it is the only way to deliver on what Sylvia Reynolds, a CMO of Wells Fargo, once said, “Marketing must be a driver of tangible business results.”
Marketing accountability is what enables the Marketing function to run the marketing organization more effectively and efficiently. Knowing what is and isn’t working helps marketing achieve greater influence and serve in a more strategic role.
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