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I say Brand Preference. You say EBIT. Who says it better?

September 23, 2010

The Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the US has a dream.

A noble dream that is to create a set of metrics generally recognized as meaningful and predictive. Much like the Financial Accounting Standard Board has done with accounting metrics or the International Standards Organization with quality-control metrics.

The mission that underpins the dream: Give marketers, and specifically chief marketing officers, the credibility and clout that chief financial officers have.

The main obstacle?

Not the fragmentation of media channels.

Nor the rise of new ones.

Or the challenge of marketing that is now a 24/7 responsibility.

The main obstacle – The fragmented and diminished role of Marketing in organizations today.

Contrast the role of a CMO with that of a CFO.

A CFO has retained and one would argue, actually enlarged his/her sphere of influence. While a typical CMO, in the past 15 years, has seen his/her sphere of influence diminish and today is no more than a very senior Advertising & Promotions (A & P) honcho.

In the past 10 years, I have worked with some of the leading multinational organizations in the world and have seen marketing roles splintered into pieces and largely contained in the A & P space. A technology giant once had the Marketing function split into 16 A & P positions (luckily some sense prevailed and positions were streamlined to half – although it was still 4 too many). This same giant once held a sales conference in the complete absence of its marketing organization. A telecommunications giant had its regional “marketing” team split across 4 – 5 teams including the all important, “digital specialist”. More recently, a so-called Marketing lead did not even have business metrics in her KPIs – hers was only “brand measures”. This from a company that issued revenue and margins reports relentlessly.

In this renovation, what had slipped away are the critical areas of pricing (that sits with sales or even finance), product development (that’s R & D territory) and distribution (that’s sales or trade marketing). What left with the CMO — advertising and promotions (and activation, digital, social media, events) – essentially all the “fluff”

Before so-called marketing metrics can matter and hence making the MASB mission more than just a pipe dream, Marketing needs to reclaim its wider sphere of influence.

As long as marketing only dwells in the A & P space, all marketing metrics will reside in the “perception, intent and attitudinal” space such as would consider buying, would advocate, be a net promoter, awareness etc. etc. etc. All of which a customer is free to have with no responsibility to ever act on.

More importantly, none of which matter in a boardroom where people talk dollars and sense.

None of which matter when credibility and clout is being sort for the Marketing discipline.

Before a set of metrics is created, perhaps, it is more important for Marketing to reclaim its original function (the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably), first?

Any thoughts?

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