When reporting to C-suite, it’s essential to give executives what they want. Why? First, let’s assume you wish to keep your job. But secondly, you’ll elevate the importance of marketing – and likely gain increasing influence and budget.
In my conversations with C-suite executives at Fortune 500 and other companies, it’s clear what they want, and here’s how to give it to them.
1. Know What C-Suite Wants:
Leadership wants the same thing they’ve always wanted: proof of return on investment or ROI. The main difference is today executives know that marketing can prove its financial performance. Furthermore, they want ROI numbers in real time, with speed, accuracy, and convenience.
2. Show the Money:
What C-suite wants from marketing is dollar signs first, which they often don’t see today. What executives don’t want is a plethora of fancy pie charts and graphics, devoid of financial metrics. And they want to see relevant financial details, especially around customers.
3. Have Good, Accurate Data:
To provide the reports that C-suite wants, you’ll need data from other business units. It’s essential that your data has integrity. For example, you will want to ensure that your sales department properly attributes revenue to marketing whenever appropriate: marketing needs to receive credit, where credit is due.
4. Focus on the Big Picture:
There are more than 60 marketing channels today, up from only 5 a few decades ago. There are pipes and pipes of channels and technologies for marketing. What C-suite really wants to know is how’s marketing performing, as a whole? Leadership needs to see the whole picture.
5. Answer Tough Questions First:
It’s not enough to report the numbers – marketers need to report the reasons. If marketing executes a campaign, and it’s wildly successful, C-suite will want to know why. Answering the tough questions first provides opportunities for exploration and business growth.
6. Prepare For More Questions:
Know how executives think: every answer you give will inspire another question, another opportunity. Why is product A trending down versus product B? Why is one market outgrowing another? If I cut spending here and increase spending there, will I see greater ROI? Think ahead, and be prepared to answer these questions.
7. Look for Trends:
C-level executives are conditioned to look at analytical reports, and quickly spot trends. They’re adept at discovering triggers: that’s how they consume information. Again, be one step ahead, and be prepared to provide analytical insights into the reasons for trends – and resulting opportunities.
8. Focus on ROI Internally:
Departments and individuals in marketing need access to the same financial reports as C-suite. If marketers see the same information being reported to leadership, they will stay more focused on the enterprise’s financial objectives. This will also help them celebrate and strive toward ROI.
9. More Reporting = More Marketing:
C-suite loves financial reports. The more information you provide to executives about marketing, the more they will care about marketing. If marketing isn’t reporting, you’re out of sight and out of mind. But if you’re in sight, you will gain influence, budget and more.
In conclusion, the more you give C-suite what it wants, the more you’ll get what you want. Start with specific, financial numbers focused on ROI. Be prepared to explain trends and explore opportunities. And report often, and with a focus on the financial bottom line.