In Chapter 2 of our “Best BOD Decks” series, we shared tips for the ‘performance update’ portion of a board meeting. In Chapter Three, we’re dishing out best practices that CMOs, VPs of Marketing, and other marketing execs can adopt to help nail their marketing update.
In the current macroeconomic climate, CMO may as well stand for Chief Migraine Officer. In addition to dealing with budgetary constraints, CMOs and their teams face outdated identifiers, ineffective advertising tools, and data compliance hurdles (#GDPRoblems). At the same time, the CMO toolkit is ever-expanding, which makes it difficult to narrow focus onto core imperatives. It’s no wonder CMO tenure is the shortest it’s been in more than a decade.
This only adds pressure to the marketing update and, in many cases, leads to presentations that resemble data dumps rather than actionable plans for improvement.
Here’s how CMOs and marketing leaders can deliver a marketing update that prioritizes results and instills confidence.
Best Practice #1: Leverage the Right KPIs
There is no shortage of ways to track performance in today’s marketing landscape. Invoke the “less is more” ethos and save your board from analysis paralysis by focusing on the KPIs that matter.
Steer clear of vanity metrics. These superficial statistics muck up the marketing team’s accomplishments and can tarnish long-term credibility (Hint: Board members can sniff out inflated, superficial, impertinent data). Contrary to everyone’s favorite tried-and-true sales slogan, your board wants the steak — not the sizzle. While the highest priority metrics will differ for each business, it’s important to tie marketing KPIs to overall business performance. For example, website visitor count is a poor metric to evaluate marketing performance if visitation does not lead to conversion.
Keep your data concise and focus on the most crucial metrics (i.e. the numbers that tie marketing to customer acquisition and retention). Think big-picture. Don’t lose sight of how marketing KPIs contribute to your organization’s long-term goals.
Best Practice #2: Ensure Marketing and Sales Alignment
For a company to succeed, its go-to-market (GTM) motion must run like a well-oiled machine. While the focus is often on sales teams, marketing is the oil that allows the machine to run. A thriving GTM process isn’t possible unless the marketing and sales team are fully aligned.
Siloed sales and marketing efforts result in a costly and inefficient go-to-market motion. For example, if marketing is meeting lead generation quota and sales is missing budget, you may need to revisit how many leads you need to generate to hit bookings targets. Or if sales are meeting new customer quotas but missing on total budget, there may be misalignment on lead quality that is driving down average purchase price.
Don’t play hero and tout your marketing accomplishments while overall company numbers tell a different story. The board wants to see a synergistic marketing-sales operation.
Best Practice #3: Follow the Money
If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. The best CMOs underscore their updates with details on marketing-influenced revenue and customer growth.
Consider the following key questions as you explain how marketing bolsters the company’s growth:
- How have marketing efforts helped produce leads?
- What’s the ROI of creating demand for the sales team or driving revenue via demand generation?
- How has marketing boosted your share of wallet from existing customers?
At the end of the day, marketing is about storytelling. Unpack the narrative around the user’s journey through the sales funnel and how they engage with your product. Pair this narrative with data showing a positive customer experience that leads to high conversion rates and brand loyalty.
Best Practice #4: Results and Insights
Always lead with well-grounded and positive results. Speak to how you found success and map out your blueprint for duplicating and scaling these initiatives. Discuss your plan to sustain momentum (or turn things around) with broader context on why your process is or isn’t working.
Leave the nitty-gritty data discussion behind and provide actionable thoughts and recommendations to your BOD. Collectively, the marketing update should highlight the metrics that led to positive outcomes and the outcomes themselves.
Additional Marketing Update Tips
By integrating these best practices into your marketing update, you can effectively demonstrate to board members that the marketing team is successfully fulfilling its responsibilities — whether that means pivoting to a different strategy or outperforming KPIs.
- Be intentional about the KPIs you present.
- Align the marketing and sales teams.
- Tie marketing to revenue and other positive outcomes.
- Keep results at the forefront.
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