Use a dashboard when driving your marketing

Tim Ambler
London Business School

Despite all evidence to the contrary, the belief that a single number can be used to assess marketing performance is persistent. Some say that top management can only handle a single number, or silver metric, so we must choose the least bad one. Others believe that ROI is so standard as not be to worth challenging. Others again claim modernity for customer concepts such as customer equity, customer lifetime value and Peppers and Rogers' new 'Return on Customer'. Yes, they are new and, yes, they have value, but these measures are not the silver metrics their promoters claim them to be.

It is hoped that a silver metric will justify marketing expenditure in much the same way that shareholder value measures the firm's performance as a whole. Marketing is seen as a slippery area with constantly moving goal posts. However badly a performance is judged by others, any CMO can find some metrics to show it was really a great success. 'Let's find one measure of success and stick with it' is the cry, and it is attractive.