Does the received wisdom of marketing success stand up to scrutiny?

The pulling of each measurement lever at each stage should carry a different strategic objective, sticking to one is just daft.

marketing scrutinyThe demand for marketers to be more robust in the measurement of the value of what they oversee dates back decades. Indeed, Philip Kotler’s 1967 Marketing Management textbook was an attempt to put the finger-in-the-air approach to insight and analysis in the past by introducing  mathematical rigour to impact assessment. Fifty-two years on, there is no shortage of means to inform action and communicate success.

The density of data and the explosion of supposed silver bullet solutions should, in theory, be a blessing for a profession that continues to be dogged by a perception of profligacy. More data plus greater precedent equals more accountability, you would think.

But what if the methods used to assess success are outdated? What if the determinate of what good looks like is no longer fit for purpose? In an age where there is greater expectation of good corporate citizenship, is profit the only barometer of business success?

Received wisdom has it that marketing is changing at pace. Accepting this aphorism as true for a moment, it’s fair and timely to ask whether the key indicators of progress clung to by marketers are still up to scratch.

This is the conversation we are attempting to start by putting some of the sacred cows of modern marketing measurement under the spotlight.

First, with marketers noting the importance of customer experience, the worth of Net Promotor Score is being questioned. We dissect the veracity of the maligned but still widely used score.

Is NPS a true measure of customer sentiment?

Although return on investment is widely used as a demonstration of effectiveness, it has been accused of being a blunt measure that feeds short-termism. We have also unpicked the merits and limitations of econometrics.

You could draw the same conclusion from each piece – there are as many pros as there are cons to each measurement tool. An NPS score is nothing without qualitative assessment of why someone is a cheerleader or detractor. ROI is one gauge of a campaign’s impact, but only if quick wins are the extent of your ambition.

It’s also true that any one measure or means to measure is not enough in isolation. Brand success should be determined by tracking of profitable growth, which can only come through finding and retaining customers, satisfying them sufficiently enough they drive revenue, and charging them enough that your efforts are profitable. Econometrics should be used as a qualifying guide. Indicative but never instructive.

Econometrics gives marketing commercial currency but is it being overused?

There is a temptation in 21st century marketing to declare redundancy on established practices. This, however, is not an exercise in sounding the death knell. It’s a call for interrogation of limitations, nuanced adoption and revised thinking.

The pulling of each lever at each stage should carry a different strategic objective. Daft to stick to any one number. All have flaws, all have advantages, all, as my colleague Helen Edwards puts it, require “forensic analysis”.

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