Marketing Metrics: A book review by Bob Morris

Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance, Second Edition
Paul Farris, Neil Bendle, Phillip Pfeifer, and David Reibstein
Prentice Hall (2010)

Note: The review that follows is of the Second Edition (2010), a sequel to Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master (2006).

How and why “marketing metrics can show problems (and opportunities) that would otherwise be missed”

Data-based marketing is both an art and a science but many (if not most) marketers do not always include metrics – or at least the metrics needed — among the data on which they depend when making and then evaluating strategic decisions to create or increase demand of what they offer.

What Paul Farris, Neil Bendle, Phillip Pfeifer, and David Reibstein offer in this book is what they characterize as “a comprehensive, practical reference on the metrics used to judge marketing programs and quantify their results.” This is a research-driven rather than theory-driven book, as the footnotes, “References and Suggested Further Reading” sections, and Bibliography clearly indicate. Readers will also appreciate how skillfully the co-authors use “Key concepts covered in this chapter” sections (Chapters 2-10) and dozens of “Figures” and Tables” throughout the book to complement, highlight, or even consolidate key points within the narrative.

Opinions vary to the origin of the admonition that “you can’t manage what you cannot measure” but no one questions the importance of obtaining accurate, relevant, and sufficient data to serve as a foundation to the decision-making process, no matter who is involved, whatever the nature and extent of the given issues and objectives may be. Nonetheless, as John A. Quelch observes, “marketing is one of the least understood, least measurable functions at many companies…Marketing executives, for their part, often fail to develop the quantitative, analytical skills needed to manage productivity. Right-brain thinkers may devise creative campaigns to drive sales but show little interest in the wider financial impact of their work.” Quelch is Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for International Development, Harvard Business School.

I agree while presuming to add that not all data (however accurate, relevant, and sufficient they may be) possess a predictive capability. Recent research in neuroscience (e.g. involving use of fMRI technologies) suggests that some consumer behavior cannot be measured by traditional methodologies and at least some of that behavior can neither be measured nor managed.

For whom will this book have the greatest value? One man’s opinions: First, business school instructors and their students, especially those preparing for a career in marketing; also, senior-level marketing executives; finally, middle managers who aspire to become senior-level marketing executives. All that said, I agree with Jim Lecinski, Managing Director, U.S. Sales & Service, Google: “Perhaps the most pressing question in marketing today is not simply how to measure any single outcome, but understanding how all the various metrics interconnect – and the resulting financial consequences of [the given] marketing decisions.” Therefore, it certainly makes sense for any C-level executive to read this book, at least those involved in making strategic decisions that have impact throughout the given enterprise.


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