The Challenge of Not So Simple Marketing Performance Measures

Bruce Clark reviewed the history of performance measures in 1999. He saw three main themes: “the movement from financial to non-financial output measures, the expansion from measuring only marketing outputs to measuring marketing inputs as well, and the evolution from unidimensional to multidimensional measures of performance” (Clark, 1999, page 711).

As someone who was working in accounting in the 1990s it is interesting for me to see how marketing was changing back then. Clearly pure financial metrics are not going to do a perfect job at assessing marketing so it is fascinating to see how the non-financial measures we know so well today came into usage.

The measurement of inputs and outputs remains a challenge. Clark discusses the idea of the marketing audit but wondered how widespread they were. I still wonder on this point.

My favourite element was his discussion of multidimensional measures. “The trend towards multidimensional measures has arguably been wonderful for researchers and horrible for practitioners. Psychometrically and theoretically researchers know that a multidimensional model of marketing performance is likely to be more ‘true’ in that it will capture more facets of performance than any single dimensions can. Unfortunately, successively more complicated schemes dramatically increase the burden on managers attempting to measure performance” (Clark, 1999, page 720).

It is this problem of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of measures that motivates Clark to call for a manageable set of measures to be developed. I would say we are still some way off this but I appreciate the motivation behind the call.

Read: Bruce Clark (1999) Marketing Performance Measures: History and Interrelationships, Journal of Marketing Management, 15, 711-732