1.4 Choosing the Right Numbers
The numeric imperative represents a challenge, however. In business and economics, many metrics are complex and difficult to master. Some are highly specialized and best suited to specific analyses. Many require data that may be approximate, incomplete, or unavailable.
Under these circumstances, no single metric is likely to be perfect. For this reason, we recommend that marketers use a portfolio or "dashboard" of metrics. By doing so, they can view market dynamics from various perspectives and arrive at "triangulated" strategies and solutions. Additionally, with multiple metrics, marketers can use each as a check on the others. In this way, they can maximize the accuracy of their knowledge.6 They can also estimate or project one data point on the basis of others. Of course, to use multiple metrics effectively, marketers must appreciate the relations between them and the limitations inherent in each.
When this understanding is achieved, however, metrics can help a firm maintain a productive focus on customers and markets. They can help managers identify the strengths and weaknesses in both strategies and execution. Mathematically defined and widely disseminated, metrics can become part of a precise, operational language within a firm.
Data Availability and Globalization of Metrics
A further challenge in metrics stems from wide variations in the availability of data between industries and geographies. Recognizing these variations, we have tried to suggest alternative sources and procedures for estimating some of the metrics in this book.
Fortunately, although both the range and type of marketing metrics may vary between countries,7 these differences are shrinking rapidly. Ambler,8 for example, reports that performance metrics have become a common language among marketers, and that they are now used to rally teams and benchmark efforts internationally.