Marketing metrics, marketing intelligence and marketing research. Although the three are interrelated, important distinctions exist when comparing between them. Astute marketers use all three, in a coordinated effort, to guide their marketing efforts and to support the development of their strategic marketing plans. One commonality is that all three are used to support decisions that impact how firms organize and implement their marketing programs. A brief definition of the three is presented below.
Simply defined, metrics refers to performance measures and operating statistics. Metrics are key performance indicators, allow firms to track performance over time and enable greater precision in execution of business activities. To provide practical value, metrics should identify frequency of measurement, frequency of review, source of data, rationale, and be logical. Metrics provide information about the current state of performance and operations. The metrics mantra is: “you can’t improve what you can’t measure”. Metrics serve as the firm’s dashboard.
Marketing Intelligence (aka Market Research)
The information that firms collect and analyze about the market(s) in which they operate, their current and potential customers and their competitors is collectively known as marketing intelligence. This information provides support for decisions regarding the development of appropriate marketing metrics, market opportunities and marketing strategy. Marketing intelligence provides a map of the marketing environment and identifies the landmarks and hazards. Marketing intelligence subsumes marketing metrics.
Marketing research involves the systematic, objective collection and statistical analysis of data to turn it into actionable information. Marketing research serves as the GPS by providing information that guides the direction of the firm. Marketing research subsumes marketing intelligence. Using the scientific method as its foundation, marketing research consists of a series of steps that include:
- Problem definition
- Statement of the objectives
- Creation of the research design
- Choice of research method
- Sampling selection/plan
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Interpretation of the results
- Develop the research report
Accurately defining the problem is the key to conducting relevant marketing research. This task is more difficult than one might think given that symptoms, rather than problems, are the evidence provided by the metrics. For instance, a decline in gross sales volume is a symptom rather than a problem. Before beginning the marketing research process, one must identify the potential underlying cause(s) of the symptom. Researching symptoms rather than problems provides information that possesses limited utility.
Failure to conduct marketing research is one of the top reasons for business failure, especially when considering market entry alternatives. The key is to structure the research so that the benefits received outweigh the costs associated with the research process.
In summary, the three are not mutually exclusive decisions or tools in the marketing arsenal: they are interrelated. By utilizing all three in a cohesive manner, marketers can manage their marketing efforts to ensure maximum impact. Coordinating metrics with marketing intelligence and marketing research provides marketers with the dashboard, map and GPS needed to drive success.