Koen Pauwels, a well-known marketing academic at Northeastern University, has a very useful book on working with marketing data. He focuses a lot on marketing dashboards and analyzing data. Rather than attempt to relay all the points, you can read it yourself, I want to focus on a little anecdote about the creation of the Balanced Scorecard. I think he tells us something (not great) about academic marketing. The message I want to pull out is that marketers have to turn up. I’m not convinced that we always do.
A Balanced Scorecard
It is natural that Pauwels’ discussion of dashboards should lead him to discuss the Balanced Scorecard. This is a way to monitor the success of strategy in an easy to visualize form. (For more on the Balanced Scorecard see here). It was an attempt to link business strategy to measurement and proved very popular. Accountants and strategists could work together to see how they could understand whether strategy was effective.
The balanced scorecard is not perfect. It was a popular attempt to do something that really should already have been happening: measure strategic success. In many ways the scorecard can be a bit of a crude hammer. Still, if you have no understanding of whether your strategy is working it is surely better to get an imperfect idea than stay blissfully ignorant. The important thing to bear in mind is that non-marketers will often know the balanced scorecard.
The balance brought to the Balanced Scorecard is getting beyond traditional accounting measures. Those advocating for the Balanced Scorecard do strange things like think customer satisfaction matters despite the advocates not being marketers. When marketers are looking for friends outside marketing the first people they should turn to are those who believe in the Balanced Scorecard.
Marketers Have To Turn Up
I was therefore struck by an anecdote from Pauwels. The Balanced Scorecard isn’t perfect from a marketing perspective. There are a number of reasons, I’m sure, but a key one is.
[The creators of the Balanced Scorecard] invited marketing specialists to help develop the Balanced Scorecard but none of them showed up.Koen Pauwels, 2014, page 24.
Marketers missed the chance to influence this major, and largely marketing-supportive, business idea.
We Still Don’t Turn Up
I worry that we (marketers) still don’t turn up. Few marketers, especially academics, seem to understand basic things about other disciplines. Pauwels’ book is very strong at emphasizing the need to liaise with IT people. You need to turn up if you want other colleagues to listen to your points.
Accountants have many flaws but marketers seeking to influence them should seek to understand a bit about accounting. You need to understand what the recipient of any message is looking for if you seek to influence them. This is basic marketing.
One practical suggestion I have is that PHD students seek out courses in other business disciplines. Too often the idea seems to be that you need economics or psychology and marketing and nothing else. (Maybe sociology too if you are wacky). Yet accountants do measurement. Finance people do valuation. Ops people do something too. (All I remember from my MBA is that time for toilet breaks was never built into operational planning which really annoyed me). Marketers have good ideas and important things to say. Turning up and engaging should help us be listened to.