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Conviction is the luxury of those sitting on the sidelines.” This is what John Nash's (imaginary) boss says in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” For those of us who choose to play rather than watch, measurement is the compass that guides us through our mistakes.

What is your most important marketing tool?

Your spreadsheet application should be high at the top of the list. In this day and age, running your marketing department without constant attention to the numbers is simply irresponsible.

The starting point is clearly defining the goals. What is the market impact goal of the specific activity? Is it the total number of leads? Number of qualified leads? Closed deals? Maybe brand awareness?

All of these goals have to be expressed in quantified, measurable terms, or “measurable market impact.”

Ignoring the numbers is not just irresponsible, it is also inexcusable. The great thing about electronic marketing using e-mail and the web is that almost everything can be tracked. Making smart use of these vehicles means that you design your marketing campaign results to be measurable, using trackable links, source-specific landing pages, and tracking codes. These are relatively simple to implement, so we'll assume that you've got this part right.

Still, there are plenty of examples where marketing departments don't manage their activities by the numbers, for a variety of reasons. Let's examine some of these more common reasons, and see how you can work around them.

Example #1: “Our goal is to create brand awareness, but measuring it is too expensive.”

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Eran Livneh (elivneh@MarketCapture.com) is president of MarketCapture (www.MarketCapture.com), which provides results-based marketing services to B2B software companies. He also publishes the MarketCapture blog.