Benchmarking marketing activity

This article introduces a series of articles on benchmarking marketing activity. Read more.

As businesses come under greater pressure from market disruption, new technologies, new competition and higher customer expectations, the onus is on marketers to deliver ever more effective and efficient marketing.

But how do you know how your marketing stacks up? Is it as efficient and effective as your competitors, or more so, or less? In other areas of business, companies have long used benchmarking to measure their relative performance, yet marketers have been slow to adopt it. Now, faced with budget cuts and the inexorable search for best practice, more and more are using benchmarking to measure up all kinds of marketing activity.

To be clear, benchmarking is not the same as a metric. A metric is a comparative number, whereas a benchmark is a standard for best practice within your competitive group. The American Productivity and Quality Center defines benchmarking as "the process of identifying, understanding and adapting outstanding practices and processes from organisations anywhere in the world to help your organisation improve its performance".