Board meeting

A Marketing Manager’s Guide to Wowing Your Board

By Phil Norris
on 23/8/18

Board meetings can be a pretty intimidating environment for marketing managers. It takes us out of our comfort zone, because we’re no longer speaking to fellow marketers. People who naturally understand the complexities, pitfalls and occasional vagaries of our profession. Instead, we’re dealing with vastly experienced, hard-nosed and often time-poor businesspeople who demand answers and hold us to account for our actions.

But there’s no reason why reporting to your board has to be a stress-inducing experience. Read our helpful guide to ensure you’re always presenting the details that your board want to hear.

Set a clear agenda

First off, if you don’t already have a regular board meeting, you really need one. Whether it’s monthly or quarterly, get it scheduled. This is your best opportunity to impress upon your organisation’s key decision-makers the importance of your digital marketing strategy.

Without a regular meeting, it becomes far too easy for your board to view the marketing team as just another expense on their profit and loss spreadsheet. If they don’t understand what you do, don’t expect your budget to keep getting renewed.

Of course, it’s not enough to just have a meeting – it needs to have a clear purpose, too. With that in mind, set a simple agenda that you can refer back to in every meeting. This agenda should frame everything you need to present; we recommend something like this:

  1. Progress review: A list of your deliverables and key points of progress since your previous board meeting.
  2. Performance review: How you fared against your goals (we’ll discuss this further in the next section).
  3. Points for discussion: Your opportunity to get the answers you need from your board on new campaigns, future direction, etc.

What are your goals?

Reporting on the progress of your marketing efforts is the easiest thing in the world when you have clear goals in place. This makes it simple for you to understand the key information that your board need to hear, with no room for ambiguity.

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At this point, it’s worth noting one important thing: no board really cares about “marketing goals”. They don’t care how much organic traffic your new landing page has generated. It’s your job to demonstrate how marketing fits into the bigger picture.

To do this, your goals must be measurable and clearly tie into the direction of the business. Does your employer sell sofas? Then everything you do from a marketing perspective should be geared toward selling more sofas.

If top-level sales targets are being missed, it won’t make much difference to the board whether or not you’ve smashed your organic traffic target or expanded the brand’s social media followership.

Tell a story with data – but don’t make data the full story

Your board meeting is your one (regular) opportunity to showcase your team’s effectiveness, so make sure you take full advantage.

Don’t just present slide after slide of data comparisons. Ask yourself: does my board report offer anything other than a load of figures taken from Google Analytics? Is there any actual insight, or is it just lots of numbers and some accompanying commentary? Check out our case studies for a few practical examples.

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Of course, we’re not telling you to avoid data completely. Instead, use it to tell a story about the actions you’ve taken, the impact they’ve had on performance and what this means for your strategy moving forward. Also, be sure to avoid the all-too-easy habit of homing in on the minutiae; it’s unlikely your board members need to hear about every journalist you’ve spoken to, tweet you’ve sent and creative you’ve designed.

In short, use your skills as a marketer. Consider your audience (the board); what language will resonate best with them? What information will they find most useful or interesting? And – perhaps most importantly of all – what do you want them to take away from the meeting?

Understand your funnel

Data may not be the be-all and end-all of your report, but you’d better know your numbers when it comes to presenting to the board.

In particular, you need to understand your sales funnel and the part played by each marketing channel. Do people first hear about your brand on social, then make several visits to your site via organic search and direct before making a purchase? Is your social advertising filling up the top of the funnel while paid search mops up the bulk of your leads or sales at the bottom?

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Your board needs to understand how each channel works holistically to meet your business goals. That way, when you come to ask for additional paid media budget or an extra copywriter, they’ll already be aware of the potential benefits.

Keep it clear and succinct

It’s obviously a good thing that you’re enthusiastic about marketing, but it’s unlikely that your board members will share your passion. Why would they, when they’ve got a whole company to worry about?

Resist the urge to go overboard on any aspect of your presentation. Only make statements that you can support with data if challenged, and limit yourself to around a dozen slides. If the story you’re attempting to tell requires more detail than that, it’s almost certainly either too convoluted or too complicated. Either way, it’s unlikely to resonate with your board.

Need help proving the value of digital marketing to your board? Want to hear how we’ve helped businesses across numerous sectors generate amazing returns from their digital investment? Get in touch with us today!

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