Ad Age's article published on January 5, 2009 ("Economy Weighs Heavily on Marketing Execs for 2009") started with, "Marketing executives are tired of buzzwords such as Web 2.0, blogs and social networking."

The article goes on to say that marketers are going back to the basics with an emphasis on addressing four areas: customer satisfaction, customer retention, marketing ROI, and brand loyalty.

While the economy certainly weighs heavy on all of our minds, marketers who use this opportunity wisely to improve performance and demonstrate their value will fare the best.

Our work reveals that CEOs and CMOs are interested in seeing marketing organizations improve their performance in two key areas: effectiveness (the ability to produce the desired result) and efficiency (reducing waste). The economic environment makes these efforts even more top of mind.

Often the question that remains is this: How much do we need to improve?

One way to assess your organization's performance and to understand what changes to make is through benchmarking. Robert Camp suggests that by using benchmarking to identify and replicate "best practices," a company can enhance its business performance.

This is a good time to do deploy benchmarking. The economic environment creates a level playing field. This two-part article explores how to use benchmarking to assess your organization's performance and to understand what changes to make.

Part 1 addresses what is benchmarking and its value. Part 2 identifies marketing capabilities and process that can be benchmarked and outlines the five phases associated with a successful benchmarking initiative.

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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