Benchmarking marketing activity

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

We live in a competitive and dynamic business environment. Being able to adapt is essential to survive. Every business leader is feeling the pressure for more and faster growth. Those businesses that can deliver more, faster, better and less expensively are more likely to survive – even thrive.

Addressing these challenges requires a well-founded and solid strategy. Companies use the strategic planning process to identify what the business should become and how to best achieve their vision. Part of this process entails appraising, then improving, the company's capabilities and processes.

But how do you know what processes and capabilities need to be addressed? One valuable approach is to use benchmarks. A benchmark – that is, a measure – serves as a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed. If the benchmark is the 'what', benchmarking is the 'how'. The American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) defines benchmarking as 'the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices and process from organisations anywhere in the world to help your organisation improve its performance'. Benchmarking is not the same as a metric. A metric is a comparative number, which serves as the norm, whereas a benchmark is a standard for the best. It provides insights into how to achieve excellence.