Without metrics to track performance, marketing and business plans are ineffective.

Businesses need to know which success factors require measuring, and they must understand the differences between measurements (the raw outcomes of quantification), metrics (ideal standards for measurement), and benchmarks (the standards by which all others are measured).

For marketers, three primary metrics constitute a starting point for tracking their performance. Once companies are aware of their competitive position, their desired outcomes, and what it will take to achieve those outcomes, companies will be better able to identify the success factors, benchmarks, and appropriate metrics to meet their target.

Why Measure?

Metrics are a part of our everyday lives: from our heart rate, to our bank balances; from our weight, to the gas mileage on our cars. If we don't pay attention to these numbers, we create a risk for getting a heart attack, being overdrawn, or running out of gas.

The same is true in the business environment. If a company doesn't identify and track important performance measures, it increases its risks.

Metrics provide a means to assess progress; they provide valuable data points against which the marketing organization can track its progress. Metrics demonstrate accountability and allow marketers to better know, act upon, align efforts, and reduce market exposure. Metrics enable the marketing organization to truly serve as the eyes and ears of the company.

And, more importantly, establishing and tracking metrics will have a positive influence on the leadership's satisfaction with Marketing and the marketer's ability to secure funds. Only 38% of US executives say their companies are now measuring the results of their marketing efforts, according to a study of senior business executives conducted in the second quarter of 2004 by Blackfriar.

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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