An age‐old conundrum with which marketers and, increasingly, their CEOs grapple is justifying the black hole of marketing expense. Finding a rational and reliable means of correlating marketing inputs to outputs has become even more urgent given current business economics and the decreasing effectiveness of such traditional marketing tools as advertising, promotion, and sponsorships. This article proposes two approaches that help accelerate the business impact of marketing efforts while also creating a more central role for marketing in the organization: Reorienting the marketing function around the customer experience, not the A&P mix; and breaking down the traditional annual budgeting cycle in favor of the more dynamic model of “activity‐based” budgeting. The former move reflects the expansion of customer touchpoints (interactions) as marketing tactics have expanded, and speaks to the value of mapping the customer experience to ensure related investments are aligned with value creation. Activity‐based budgeting establishes rolling, long‐term forecasts that are refined on a quarterly basis, integrating planning, allocation, and measurement and fostering a culture of measurement and continuous improvement. Moving in this direction requires forward‐thinking businesses to not only shift mindsets as to where dollars are directed, but also to shift organizationally so that budget ownership and influence are linked directly to those who know what needs to happen in the marketplace to drive measurable results – and can make it happen.
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