Survey the Playing Field to Get Your Marketing Advantage

John Follett

Have you ever successfully completed a marketing campaign only to realize that you have no idea how you produced the results that you did? Applause to you if you can confidently say, “Yes.” For the rest of us, I can imagine that you shuffled your feet at that question and were begrudgingly forced to admit that you’ve experienced this moment.

Whether the results that you saw were incredible, middling, or abysmal, if you’re unsure how anticipate, reproduce, or avoid similar outcomes in the future, then you need to take a step back and learn how to consistently close the gaps in your Marketing performance and outperform your competition. Unquestioningly, the best way to do that is to benchmark your Marketing organization against those who are Best-in-Class (BIC) in the industry.

Benchmarks are crucial to maintaining superior marketing performance. They collect both quantitative and qualitative information to guide you in identifying gaps that you can then bridge to actively improve your marketing campaigns.

Conducting a benchmark is not a passive process. According to the American Productivity & Quality Center and Saratoga Institute, conducting your own study takes an investment ranging from $50,000 – $60,000. However, the data that these studies reveal is priceless. Benchmark studies demonstrate what can be achieved by providing insights into how to achieve the performance you seek.

Thankfully, you don’t have to approach this investigation alone. There are benchmarks that you can contribute to that will help you gain an understanding of your positioning within the pack of industry players.

Since 2001, VisionEdge Marketing’s annual Marketing Performance Management Benchmark study has explored what Marketers who earn high marks from the C-Suite do better and differently. The results indicate that Marketers who earn the high marks are serving as a value creator to the organization.

The question, however, remains: How do you become a Best-in-Class (BIC) value creator that produces long-lasting benefits for the organization? You begin by benchmarking your Marketing organization against the other leaders in the industry with the following categories.



Whether or not you align yourself to the business will define your role as a Marketer. BIC marketers ensure that they align themselves with the C-Suite and their associated and desired business outcomes. Doing so differentiates these industry players from the rest.


For the same reason that it is imperative that you align yourself with the business in terms of vision, it is also key that you measure that which will be impactful to the business. Even for BIC marketers, however, this can be difficult.  Only about 80% of BICs are able to transcend expectations and consistently select the right metrics. Successfully settling on the right metrics is a direct consequence of marketers knowing which business outcomes matter to the business leaders and then aligning marketing to these outcomes.​

Data Leverage

Data is not there for you to collect and admire for the impressive nature of its size. BIC marketers know that data is collected to serve a specific purpose. They ensure that when they use data, they aren’t arbitrarily sifting through a sea of numbers. Instead, they dive in knowing what data they need, where it is, how to access it, and how to use it will be the ones to make solid business decisions and strategic recommendations.


Once you have sorted through the data, the next step is to effectively analyze it. Marketers who are designated with BIC status are scaling the ladder of purposeful and nuanced analytics. Instead of simply analyzing the descriptive and diagnostic capabilities of their data troves, they are maturing their approach and looking instead at the predictive capabilities that these numbers can offer the success of business outcomes.

Performance Targets

Are your analytics offering insights into your performance targets? If you are not aiming for business outcomes, you need to reset your mark. Similarly, you need to ensure that the targets that you have set yourself are easily quantifiable.


The construction and use of dashboards is a vast topic that covers how these visualizations work to prove the value of marketing to the business while simultaneously working to help improve it.

This occurs through the three capabilities of a dashboard: mitigating risk, facilitating decision making, and guiding course adjustments.


Marketers become BIC when they continually reject the status quo and instead perpetually innovate on their ability to deliver business results. Working closely with the business and understanding its needs as well as benchmarking your performance against that of your peers will be the ace up your sleeve to help you consistently execute winning plays.

Aren’t you curious to learn what your position on the playing field is? Are you an MVP or simply another teammate? Take the annual 2017 MPM Benchmark study and find out.


Guest Contributor:

Laura Patterson, President of VisionEdge Marketing