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Companies need to take a strategic view of marketing, which involves not just physical goods but also the myriad services surrounding those goods.

Services play a vital role in our economy. For us marketers in the services industry, it's important to understand the key factors that enable us to profitably acquire and keep customers.

We have identified four factors that make a difference and represent best practices for marketers. Input from hundreds of companies, representing a multitude of diverse industries, identified these four components as the critical success factors:

  1. Having an approved marketing plan

  2. Having an approved marketing budget

  3. Identifying and securing resources

  4. Defining and establishing metrics that demonstrate Marketing's impact on the business

The companies that consistently address these four factors are more likely to achieve their revenue and profitability business goals.

How do you stack up compared with the survey participants? Some 72% of the respondents had a marketing plan, 70% had an approved budget and 65% had resources identified and secured.

Hopefully, this is the case for your company as well. If not, there's work to be done.

Only 43% of the respondents had metrics in place to measure program effectiveness, and a mere 33% had metrics in place to measure marketing's impact on the business. These are two areas that most every company needs to improve.

Let's take a closer look at the four components, and while reviewing each think about how your company is performing.

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM