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At a time when marketers are being asked to be more accountable, many of them have found something to measure. The challenge, however, is to find the right things to measure.

Why so much time and energy is being diverted to measurement may seem obvious: Only via measurement can we marketers truly demonstrate how effective we are at making investments on behalf of the company and what value those investments are generating.

The emphasis on measuring and reporting on Marketing's value and contribution has placed a sharper focus on Marketing's approach to measurement.

With so many metrics options available, you could readily fall into the trap of focusing on metrics that are easy to capture. When we wrote our second book, Measure What Matters: Reconnecting Marketing to Business Goals, we emphasized that just because we can measure something doesn't necessarily mean that it matters.

Since the book's release in 2004, what Marketing can measure has proliferated at an alarming rate. In fact, a common lament we often hear from marketing organizations is that they are inundated with data and that what they can measure is limitless.

Easy-to-measure metrics may not necessarily help demonstrate Marketing's value, or foster better decisions, or enable course corrections. The whole point of performance management, marketing accountability, and marketing measurement is to help Marketing optimize performance to achieve meaningful business results.

Therefore, one of the most important things we can do as marketers is figure out what metrics make the most sense.

Metrics that matter may require changes and investments in data, processes, systems, and skills. Just because making those changes may be hard doesn't mean we shouldn't make them. After all, applying precious and limited resources to measuring the wrong things is wasteful—both inefficient and ineffective.

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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