Marketing Accountability – few follow best practices.

A new report, released by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) Marketing Accountability Task Force, found that marketing accountability requires a precise process involving multi-functional teams, yet only a small proportion of marketers are utilizing them. “Marketing accountability is still often an activity trapped within the silo of the marketing function,” reads the report.

The findings are backed up statistically by the 2006 ANA/MMA Marketing Accountability Survey released in July in which 60 % of respondents reported that there was no cross functional involvement whatsoever in their company during the development and management of their marketing accountability programs. For the 2006 ANA task force participants in whose company this occurs, they report encountering continued frustration in gaining credibility from the corporate functions who are excluded (or exclude themselves) from participation in validating marketing’s accountability.

An encouraging sign from the 2006 ANA Marketing Accountability Task Force was the slow, but perceptible involvement of multiple functions in a marketing accountability process within companies. Particularly notable are the inclusion of the procurement and finance functions in many companies. As evident by the 2006 ANA task force and confirmed by the 2006 ANA/MMA survey, over a third (35%) of companies had some kind of ‘cross functional’ marketing accountability team (in most cases including finance). Slightly under one third (30%) claimed full cooperation between marketing and finance in establishing return on marketing investment metrics. Also, companies that have been working on marketing accountability for several years noted they were now going beyond using metrics only for measurement and were using them for management, a subtle but important distinction.

“These findings clearly demonstrate that there is still much work to be done to accomplish total accountability and we are pleased to provide concrete steps to help our members achieve that,” said Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA. “Creating multi-functional accountability teams within an organization will enable marketing accountability to reach the level that today’s marketing landscape necessitates.”

The 2006 ANA Marketing Accountability Task Force report details how incorporating “total accountability”- defined as a process for planning a better result and a protocol for analyzing what went wrong when the planning fails to deliver up to expectations – can overcome these challenges. The task force identified four key steps associated with generating repeatable excellent results:

– Understanding the target customer
– Having an explicit plan to build brand equity
– Setting and prioritizing objectives
– Creating an integrated marketing strategy

“Marketers who work to build robust accountability processes and programs by starting with these best practices will be able to overcome the many issues they face within their companies and create a true culture of accountability within the marketing organization, ” said Gordon Wade, Founder, EMM Group, and task force consultant.

The task force report also lists 10 commandments for “total accountability,” as follows:

– Create a multi-functional internal accountability team
– Agree on the expectations that the management team has for marketing
– Choose metrics that align with expectations
– Select predominantly leading indicator metrics capable of driving a causal model
– Create a robust voice of the customer so you understand the target customer
– Demand an explicit plan to build brand equity
– Develop measurable objectives for 90% of marketing expenditures
– Use a rigorous process to build integrated marketing plans
– Analyze 90 % of marketing expenditures using a who, what, how framework
– Create an accountability budget sufficient to measure 90% of marketing expenditures

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