Biggest Bang for the Buck: New Frameworks for Accountability in Marketing, Advertising and Communications

Article excerpt

Defining accountability for the success of marketing, advertising and communications campaigns has not always been pursued with as much vigour and determination as the campaigns themselves. This author writes that the time has come to design and implement actionable measures. In this article, he outlines his vision for a more scientific approach to making marketing and its practitioners truly accountable.

New frameworks for marketing optimization and accountability

Billions of dollars and the careers of thousands of marketers ride on the proper evaluation and measurement of the efficacy, performance, cost, and impact of increasingly complex and integrated marketing activities. To that end, the 'Black Art' era of marketing is quickly disappearing. In its place, a new systems approach is emerging, one built on the principles of design - structure, process, and content, and on an understanding of the customer experience. Once established, this new approach will enable marketers to create synergies, while simultaneously breaking down barriers between creative, strategic, technological, and analytic efforts.

The effective evaluation of marketing's impact on sales is as much an integration of research tools and methods as it is an outcome of marketing strategies and a deployment of new technologies. In fact, measurement approaches should start from the perspective of marketing strategy (i.e., the clients needs, challenges, and goals), rather than from the perspective of research technique or new technologies, as it so often does. As the rapid emergence and proliferation of marketing channels and new technologies increase the ability to reach people in multiple ways, success in evaluation, measurement, and marketing optimization becomes built on an adherence to best practices in the fundamentals that answer client's most important questions and issues.

Customer measurement approaches exist - direct measures of what people see, hear, feel, and do and why they do it (rational and emotional factors) - to support the holistic framework the client needs to be successful. Organizations who have overcome the 'silver bullet' fallacy recognize the value of combining and using transactional, historical, convenience, and survey data as a basis for quantitative guidance to assess the impact of marketing efforts. They have built processes that meet marketers' day-to-day needs and desires to measure, track, and optimize the impact of their creative, communications, relationship, and marketing efforts, as well as the larger strategy, planning, and financial payoff of marketing activities. Ultimately, a continuous customer and marketing learning cycle is generated, fed by the distribution and application of the appropriate measurement techniques and methods as described in more detail in this paper.

Measuring the impact

Art meets science: The challenge of measuring the impact of marketing

It's a question as old as business itself: How can an organization be sure it is spending the right amount of money on the kind of advertising, marketing, and relationship building that can impact and influence behavior and attitudes, and ultimately, sales?

To be sure, some marketers, especially those focused solely on direct marketing or involved exclusively in e-commerce, are able to determine how responsive consumers are to a targeted offer. But things are not that simple anymore. More than ever, the marketing discipline is art informed by science: most organizations still spend vast amounts of money trying to create awareness, shift attitudes, or influence behavior without knowing the relationship between costs and impacts.

Some marketing executives may secretly feel that they have little choice but to throw money at the wall and hope that at least some of it will stick. That kind of thinking, however, is rapidly disappearing. These days, business leaders are under increased pressure to make marketing more a quantifiable science and less a vague "black art. …