To executives used to managing their businesses through the scrutiny of numbers, marketing’s uncertainties can be frustrating. As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” If marketing is hard to measure precisely, how can we manage it? The answer: Marketing does have valid metrics through which its activities can be assessed and managed. A/B testing and test markets can confirm or refute hypotheses to reasonable levels of confidence. Brand-building tactics can be assessed through surveys and focus groups. Many modern marketing tactics (especially digital) are very trackable.
CMOs should emphasize that their metrics are valid when evaluating whether marketing activities are working as expected, and that the inherent imprecision in measuring marketing’s financial outcomes does not undermine their validity. Marketing leaders also need to protect against overindexing the marketing mix toward the most trackable tactics merely because they offer more precision.