CEOs and shareholders want “more bang for their marketing buck”; “more market share for less advertising spend”; “more new-product hits with less investment in new product development.” The message from consumers and CEOs is strikingly similar: “We want more value for our money.”

This loud and insistent mantra puts sales and marketing departments in a bind. How can they generate profitable top-line growth in mature, often flat, markets that are experiencing severe price pressures? And, at a time when the CEO’s agenda is to improve return on investment by simultaneously increasing returns and conserving investment, how can they deliver near-term results without sacrificing long-term brand equity?

It’s a conundrum that marketers everywhere face. How can they square this uncomfortable circle? The answer may not be to everyone’s liking: There is no magic bullet; rather, hard work is required. And that work can be put off no longer. ROI marketing — the application of sophisticated measurement techniques in the service of optimizing marketing spending — is now no longer just a nice idea, but an imperative for corporate survival. As one chief marketing officer told us: “Marketing is dead if it’s not building the business.”

The world has changed, and marketing must change too. Marketing needs to become, in a word, rigorous — or risk the onset of rigor mortis.

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