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Top Reasons Marketing Reports Fail and How to Fix It


Marketers have reasons to worry, according to a new report from Korn Ferry published in the Wall St Journal. They’re worried about a number of issues, from feeling they’re unable to prove that marketing actually works, to the future of marketing in general.

Perhaps the main reason for these issues is marketing reports: they fail to meet standard business objectives. Here are some of the problems caused by the failure of conventional marketing reporting, and how to fix it:

Marketing Can’t Prove Worth

Chief marketing officers (CMOs) have a shorter tenure than other c-suite executives. According to the poll, more than half of the 215 marketers believe that’s because they can’t show “tangible business outcomes.”

Fail to Show ROI

Today’s marketing reports do this: fail. Marketing reports are highly adept at showing how much money was spent. But they rarely show the company what it received for its spending.

Isolated and Disconnected

Marketing reports don’t speak the same language that other business areas speak: money. This creates a disconnect between marketing and the rest of the enterprise.

Not Aligned With Company Goals

This leads to marketing failing to be aligned with enterprise goals. The enterprise is focused on bottom-line return. But because marketing focuses on opens and clicks, it struggles to demonstrate its worth to the rest of the enterprise.

Cost Center, Not Revenue Generator

That is why marketing is viewed as a cost center rather than a revenue generator. That’s why marketing is viewed as an expense, rather than investment.

Marketing: First to Downsize

The result is that the rest of the enterprise rarely values marketing. And indeed, marketing is often the first to be cut during lean times.

CMOs: Endangered Species

The average CMO tenure is 45 months, about half as long as the average CEO. Indeed, some say the CMO is an endangered species. Businesses are increasingly likely to phase out the CMO title, and make marketing and direct reports to finance or operations.

Solutions: How to Create Reports that Matter


Be More Numbers Focused

The solution is numbers, notably financial specifics. Marketers must move away from fuzzy vagaries such as impressions. Indeed, nearly 80% of respondents in the Korn Ferry poll intend to focus more on data and analytics, to better measure how marketing drive sales.

New Technology Solutions

The quickest way to be an early adopter and gain a competitive advantage is to take advantage of new technologies that make it easier. New technology makes it possible to easily measure ROI through an intuitive SaaS, dashboard.

Speak The Same Language

This enables you to report on the same metrics that c-suite uses. In this way, you are being more like the sales department, which typically demonstrates a clear specific contribution to the company bottom line, to the penny.

Be More Exec Friendly

Shifting your marketing reporting to a more financial basis also makes it more consumer friendly. Your key consumers are c suite executives, in other departments. And what they want is financial information.

Prove Worth

One of the big benefits of marketing reporting focused on finances is that it proves marketing’s worth, to the penny. This gains respect, and increases job security.

Make Smarter Investments

Further, by tracking the specific ROI of different efforts, you can determine where to invest more of your budget in the future, to maximize your return.


Today’s marketing reports provide little value to the enterprise, give little guidance for future investments, and cause marketers to be undervalued. By leveraging new technology, marketers can prove their financial contribution to the enterprise bottom line. Making the switch to financial reporting not only solve these problems, but elevates the importance of marketers, and consolidates their position in the future.

By Jeff Winsper

Jeff is the President of Black Ink and offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.

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