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If you're like us, you probably have one of those piles on your desk that keeps being moved from one corner to another. You know, that pile you need to get to but avoid because it will take some real effort to tackle? For many marketing professionals, marketing accountability, analytics, and ROI are in this pile.

Not too long ago at a marketing conference where Laura was speaking, the organizers had set up round tables with specific topics for discussion over breakfast. Laura was sitting at the measuring marketing ROI table (of course, where else would I be sitting?), strategically located right next to the buffet line.

While she was sitting there waiting for people to join her, she kept hearing people say, "Oh, measuring marketing, that's just too hard." Hundreds of marketers were attending this conference, and about two dozen tables of 10 were set to accommodate the early risers. Yet only four other brave souls joined her.

We marketers must stop avoiding this topic and tackle the pile.

As Sylvia Reynolds, CMO of Wells Fargo, has said, "Marketing must be a driver of tangible business results...we must start with the goal in mind and a clear way to measure that goal."

ROI is important for accountability—besides being able to justify spending and enable us to run the marketing organization more effectively and efficiently, knowing what is and isn't working helps marketing achieve greater influence and serve in a more strategic role.

Various surveys suggest that over one-third, and as much as 42%, of marketing budgets are not adequate enough to achieve the outcomes and impact expected. Perhaps your organization like many others is in the thick of budget planning. A key part of budget planning is to establish and validate the money you plan to spend. The more aligned Marketing is with the outcomes of the organization and the more the plan includes performance targets and metrics, the more likely you will be allocated the budget you need to achieve the expected results.

So what does it take to tackle this Marketing Accountability pile? Here are six affordable steps that any marketing organization can take to start whittling away at the marketing accountability and measurement pile.

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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