In 1968, Virginia Slims began marketing to young professional women with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby” – introducing the cigarette as the mark of a liberated, sophisticated woman. The phrase was true – women had come a long way – but the implication that smoking was somehow connected with that progress was a dangerously effective non sequitur.

Marketing, over the past 10 years, has undergone a women’s-lib-esque transformation – shifting from a focus on brand and production value to demand creation and lead generation. The tools and technologies that support the modern marketer are less about design and more about measurement. We operate less on gut instinct and more on predictive outcomes. We’ve come a long way, baby….

Well, no one’s trying to sell cigarettes to kids here, but there is a dangerous non sequitur in this evolution: the implication that a tactic’s measurability is directly proportional to its value and impact. This type of thinking not only puts almost all reputation-oriented spend at risk, it also reinforces old habits that many organizations are hoping to change, such as the shift from traditional marketing to a more inbound-oriented approach. Philosophically and intuitively, most marketers understand the value of inbound in terms of efficiency and effectiveness but remain stuck in their old patterns of behavior because traditional marketing is easier to measure.

How does your B2B organization discuss high-impact, but difficult-to-measure, marketing investments such as social media, brand, inbound marketing, sponsorships, public relations, and corporate social responsibility? Short of pulling funding for these activities to prove the negative impact, how do you protect these investments against attacks based on lack of measurability?