Aligning Interests


Last week something strange happened in front of my house that knocked out the power to my house. I’m glad it happened on a relatively cool day rather than on a hot, sticky day like today.

While I was inconvenienced for about 12 hours in which I had no power, I’m thankful for the inspiration for this month’s newsletter which talks about the importance of aligning marketing’s interests with those of the whole organization and how doing measurement properly helps to get you there.


As I opened my front door Wednesday morning to toss a few items into the recycle bin, I quickly realized that something had gone terribly wrong in front of my house.

From my front door, I saw a police officer, two firefighters, three Toronto Hydro linemen, an Atlas Van Lines driver, their respective vehicles, flashing lights, barricades, pylons and a cat. Taking in this scene, it quickly sank in that the large Altas moving van with live hydro wires draped across it, was probably the cause of all the commotion.

Here’s what happened. The van was very tall. The overhead hydro wires, which reach across the street to feed electricity into the houses on my side of the street, hang very low. Tall van + low wires = problem. As the van drove up my street, it snagged and pulled down the wires that feed electricity into MY house, which knocked out my power.

My neighbour Blair saw the whole thing happen. He called 911. The 911 dispatcher called the police, the firefighters and the hydro guys. No one knows who called the cat, or why the cat was there other than to hold the humans in contempt.

Over the next three hours, I had productive conversations with all of the aforementioned, as well as with my insurance agent, the claims adjuster, a contractor and an electrician. All were professional and courteous. But, here’s the thing.

Everyone I talked to had a different agenda, a different boss to answer to, and a different view on how to proceed. I found this both interesting and frustrating, yet not at all unusual. To varying degrees, most organizations experience this.

While this “organization” had been assembled hastily to address the downed power lines situation, it behaved as most organizations behave. That is, the first concerns of the individuals involved were guided by their own self-interests. More importantly, they were able find common ground within those interests and come together around common objectives.

What does this have to do with marketing measurement? I thought you’d never ask! Some of the biggest challenges and benefits of marketing measurement are related to getting everyone on the same page and aligning their interests.

Aligning marketing’s objectives with those of the organization is critical to both the success of marketing measurement efforts and the success of the organization at meeting its overall objectives.


Here are three key principles to achieving both types of success:

1. The whole organization must commit to marketing measurement.

Marketing and other parts of the organization need to mobilize around a clearly defined measurement objective, such as finding the best and most effective ways of spending marketing budgets. Marketing can’t and shouldn’t go it alone. It needs support and commitment from the rest of the organization for measurement to work and lead to better spending decisions.

2. The organization and marketing must jointly commit to a measurement methodology.

If marketing unilaterally develops an approach to marketing measurement, others in the organization might think that marketing developed their approach with their own self-interests in mind. That is, they might assume that the methodology is biased towards showing that the marketers in question are brilliant and highly effective.

On the other hand, if marketing involves other elements of the organization that might naturally have competing interests or alternate perspectives on how to measure marketing, then those “competing” interests will bring more balance to the methodology and more acceptance by all of the results.

A joint commitment to a methodology means they must agree on a way to measure marketing’s success. I define success as marketing meeting its objectives and helping the organization to meet its objectives. Objectives-based measurement forces alignment around the objectives themselves.

3. The organization and marketing must jointly decide what to measure.


Remember that marketing’s purpose is to attract customers who create the most value for the whole organization. That means you need input from each key functional area to know how they each define value, high value customers and profitable customer behaviour. Those definitions will point the way to the key performance indicators that should be included in your measurement.

Including a range of metrics that matter to all aspects of the organization will mean that you will be measuring marketing according to how the whole organization defines success. It will also be easier to get the support and data you need to measure marketing in terms that everyone will understand.

In an organization, everyone has a role to play. Each person has his or her own biases and priorities. At times, it can seem as though different people and parts of the organization have competing interests.

Effective organizations find and focus on the common objectives within those competing interests. One of the most important benefits of measuring marketing based on results vs. objectives is that to do it properly those objectives will need to align with those of the overall organization.

Stealth Benefits


You know how when you take a vacation there are usually certain things you must see or do at your chosen destination? For example, when you go to Greece, you have to go to Athens to see the Parthenon. While it’s one of the great and obvious things to see in Athens, I find it interesting how your vacation highlights may well end up being about the unexpected pleasures, like a beautiful scene in the countryside or a chat with a complete stranger at a café.

It turns out that networking and marketing measurement are much the same. Both are well worth doing for all the obvious reasons, but it’s the unexpected stealth benefits that may well end up being the most important.


Two days ago, I was drinking tea at Starbucks with a consultant I met in February and her business partner. We were enjoying a fun and productive conversation when it suddenly hit me. I love networking.

I know that love is probably too strong a word for my feelings about networking. Still, now that I’ve fully embraced networking as an integral part of building my own business, I can’t imagine my working life without it.

The ParthenonWhen I took my first tentative steps into the world of networking, my dual objectives were to expand my network and find clients, the obvious reasons for networking. While networking has proven to be beneficial on both counts, it has been the other unexpected benefits that I’ve enjoyed the most.

  • I’ve made great friends
  • I’ve built relationships with talented people I’d be happy to employ, work for or with, or recommend.
  • I’ve learned a lot and broadened my perspective.
  • I’ve become a connector, introducing people who could benefit from knowing each other.
  • I’ve become a mentor to students and an advisor to start-ups, and was thrilled to learn last week that the Ryerson DMZ is adding me to their roster of advisors.

I didn’t set out to make any of these things happen, but they did. While less obvious than growing my network and finding clients, these unexpected benefits are important and impactful, both personally and professionally. I call them stealth benefits because they sneak up on you. Without warning and undetected, they just happen.

In that respect, marketing measurement is a lot like networking. There are obvious benefits from measurement, and there is at least one multifaceted stealth benefit. The obvious benefits include:

  • Finding out which marketing programs work or don’t work.
  • Knowing where to cut budgets or where to invest more
  • Improving overall marketing effectiveness
  • Driving better business results