No matter how much we advocate the science of marketing, its art has not disappeared.

Take the balanced scorecard, for instance. In the tradition of marketing creativity, a graphical document—the balanced scorecard—translates marketing strategy to operational terms and sows the seeds for marketing accountability as measured and highlighted on the marketing dashboard.

Balanced scorecards, very simply, help marketers and the executives to whom they answer visualize strategic project planning.

But the scorecards don't end with their simplicity or their coordinated colors. They represent an approach to strategic management that surfaced in the early 1990s with Robert Kaplan and David Norton, the same guys who brought us Success Mapping.

Recognizing some of the weaknesses and vagueness of previous management approaches, the pair wrote a 1992 Harvard Business Review article about a format that communicates what companies measure in order to "balance" their marketing goals with broader corporate aims.

The balanced scorecard provides feedback around both business processes—from employee communications and training to launching a pilot program with print, outdoor and online advertising—and outcomes. When fully deployed, the balanced scorecard transforms strategic planning from a creative exercise into the interim tool for organizations migrating from purely intermediary metrics—brand awareness, customer satisfaction and the like—to a marketing dashboard of hard metrics like ROI.

Kaplan and Norton introduced four perspectives to include on the balanced scorecard: financial, customer, internal business processes, and learning and growth.

Whether you subscribe strictly to their outline or adapt it for your own use, the balanced scorecard suggests that you view the organization from different perspectives, developing metrics, setting goals, defining timeframes, and analyzing data relative to each. It relates corporate missions to marketing efforts—or vice versa—through a tool in which even unrelated key objectives such as brand development metrics, customer satisfaction scores and channel penetration can be plotted and tracked. This mix-and-match illustrates how individual initiatives and integrated campaigns work toward fulfilling enterprise-wide goals.

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Pat LaPointe is managing partner at MarketingNPV ( and the author of Marketing by the Dashboard Light: How to Get More Insight, Foresight, and Accountability from Your Marketing Investments.