Monday, June 19, 2006

Alignment: The First Ingredient of Marketing Accountability

Psst. Want to know the secret to better marketing ROI? Just hire a statistician, add some complex analytical models to measure the marketing mix, and VOILA! you’ve got it.

That is overly simplistic and wrong, isn’t it? If it were that easy, we’d all know exactly what we were getting for our marketing dollars. The truth is that it isn’t even close to being that easy.

Many ascribe the difficulty of marketing measurement to the unique art/science blend of marketing. This is partially true. Marketing is certainly not as much of a quantifiable science as we’d sometimes like to believe. However, marketing is not alone in that boat. Information technology, operations, and even finance feel similar pressures to and pain from quantification. Yet what separates these other functional areas from marketing and gives them the appearance of greater accountability is the degree to which they have organizationally, culturally, and operationally embraced the acceleration of science within their disciplines to reduce uncertainty.

If marketing is to make a successful transition from its creative roots to its true strategic calling, we need to look at how we use our political capital to organize, structure, train, and manage our human capital. We need to establish an irrefutable reputation for accountability and gain recognition as excellent stewards of the company’s resources.

The very first ingredient of marketing accountability is alignment — alignment between CMO and CEO; alignment between company goals and marketing goals; alignment between marketing and the rest of the organization; and, last but not least, alignment within the marketing organization itself. After all, absent strong alignment behind a shared set of clear and measurable goals, no one is really accountable for more than his or her own interpretation of his or her individual job responsibilities.

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