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Marketing Dashboards: Great Investment or Huge Expense?

by Mitchell Goozé  |  
August 3, 2010

Marketing dashboards are all the rage. Perhaps because every other management function has a dashboard, VPs of marketing feel they need to have one, too. Or maybe because dashboards can be a great tool to help you manage your business processes. The answer is yes... to both.

However, if you can accomplish the latter, then you won't be left out, either, and the dashboard will be an investment in business success, not a vanity expense.

Pat LaPointe, author of Marketing by the Dashboard Light, suggests that a marketing dashboard does these five things:

  1. Aligns marketing objectives to the company's financial objectives
  2. Creates organizational alignment within Marketing, and it clarifies the relationship between Marketing and other corporate functions
  3. Establishes a direct link between spending and profits
  4. Creates an organization that makes decisions based on hard facts supplemented by intuition
  5. Creates transparency

With due respect to Pat, that's akin to believing that the right automobile dashboard will allow you to win the Indy 500.

A properly constructed dashboard can help you measure, monitor, manage, and improve your marketing and sales processes, thereby reducing the conflicts between people and functions.

But to believe that the dashboard will do those things all by itself is like believing a teleprompter is all you need to make a good speech.

Although dashboards can be very useful, marketing dashboards have become a hoped-for panacea for many who want to manage their marketing activities more effectively.

However, just like other technology-based tools that have come before it, the dashboard can be a seductive solution that does not work out. And, again, like many of those earlier tools, if you want a dashboard to help you improve marketing performance, you have to know what is driving business performance and then monitor those things.

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Mitchell Goozé is a principal with Customer Manufacturing Group (, a business-process-improvement consulting firm focused on the demand chain. He is also the author of three books on marketing. Contact him at or at 408-496-4585.

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  • by Pat LaPointe Fri Aug 6, 2010 via web

    Somehow the author managed to disagree with me without actually disagreeing with me. Neat trick.

    What I actually disagree with is the premise of the title of this piece. Dashboards are not a great investment OR a huge expense. They are often both. While the software is cheap these days, the effort involved in developing and deploying a good dashboard isn't. And the change management effort to help people re-think the way they are making marketing decisions is also non-trivial. So if you're looking for great insight without expense, I concur with the author... stay away from dashboards. You'll be disappointed. But don't burn your bridges behind you. After you've searched far and wide for insight-generating solutions that meet the "good" and "cheap" criteria, you may just arrive back at the reality that insight is derived through dedicated effort over time. And no inexpensive software package will deliver that.

  • by Roy Young Tue Aug 10, 2010 via web

    Clearlyeffectiveness is not dependent on technology but rather human factors. CRM adoption, often involving large capital investments, brought organizations to the rude awakening. However, for marketing to be understood and valued internally, a dashboard is critical. And communicating information from the dashboard -- whether up to the CEO or cross-functionally to Sales or R&D -- simple is best.

  • by Rich Kottmeyer Mon Aug 16, 2010 via web

    They are wonderful when they are either intuitive to the marketer or the marketer is trained to understand how to utilize the new tool knowing what it actually says and what it does not say. They are best when they monitor the same terms or ratios the company historically follows. Simple. What never works is when a poorly understood dashboard is utilized to "make decisions" versus "guide" them.

    Dashboards can have a very negative affect on innovation IF you let them.

  • by Wayne Morris, myDIALS Tue Aug 17, 2010 via web

    As pointed out above dashboards are a tool. They can support continous improvement provided they guide the user to actionable information and insight. They need to combine activity information to help improve marketing effectiveness such as optimizing the marketing mix, but they also need to directly show ROMI (return on marketing investment) so that marketing can quantitatively demonstrate business value. In order to do this, the tools must provide more than simple visualization, and should incorporate alerting, collaboration, analytics and scenario analysis. In addition, data must be sourced and correlated from multiple systems (CRM, ERP, Website analytics, paid serach, social media etc) in order to provide a holistic view of the "first contact to revenue" process and to accurately calculate ROMI. Software as a Service solutions lower the up-front and ongoing cost.

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