Along the path toward better marketing accountability, there are many rocks, holes, roots, and other tripping hazards. Here are a few of the most common ones. Which ones are blocking your path?

1. Applying Rocket Science to Garbage Data

Measurement requires data, and your organization has plenty of it. But do you have the right data—or are you just torturing the data you can and undermining the credibility of your conclusions? Measurement-inspired marketers often try to mold data into something worthy of brilliantly conceived metrics. Bottom line: If the data seems off target, avoid advanced analytical gymnastics.

2. The New Math: Speed > Accuracy > Relevance

Whatever happened to face-to-face interviews in supermarket intercepts? The cost zoomed, and cheaper options for data collection prevailed. Getting a "right" answer soon became more important than exploring the possibilities thoroughly. On top of this, Web-based research now surveys a population of pseudo-target consumers faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.

Relevance, unfortunately, has become equated with antiquated times, and the loss of relevance in our research makes it more difficult to tease out the subtle causalities between success and failure. Speed, accuracy, and relevance—why can't they all just get along?

3. IT Enthusiasts Control the Agenda

IT people are living their glory days. In an increasingly data-driven marketing era, IT is responsible for collecting and storing data, mining customer files to build profiles of the most profitable buyers, and sending and receiving messages in record time. The people who groove on all of this monopolize the corporation's agenda; they make progress and success all about the technology.

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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.