The lights are dim. Attendees have come from various areas across the organization for the regular performance status meeting. You shuffle your notes and eye the additions and edits marked throughout. You feel ready and want to share what your team has worked on and how their performance has overcome multiple obstacles to get these results. As the presentation moves forward though, you notice key leaders in the room starting to check their phones with stifled yawns breaking the silence here and there.
We have all been there. As an experienced marketing leader, you know your presentation skills are top-notch and that the creative team designed an immaculate deck. So what could it be? As marketers, a closer focus on reporting performance periods could be the turning point between indifference and engagement. This is an exploration of how the timing of marketing performance reporting may be misaligned with organizational reporting and what questions you might ask yourself so that your team’s performance is top-of-mind for decision-makers within your organization.
Overlapping Operational Reporting
With consumer-focused marketing plans, your campaigns and tactics may overlap with operational reporting timelines. While campaigns individually may show amazing results, you should be asking yourself: How do these campaigns relate to regular operational reports? Is this changing the perception of the effectiveness of your marketing results?
Let’s say your business unit reports performance against operational targets quarterly but your key marketing drive periods are run as five- month campaigns. How is your team converting results so that the quarterly reports are able to see progress against operational goals? Are you making sure this conversion method is understood and agreed upon by your peers? Does it make sense for your customers and your marketing goals to align the five-month campaigns with the quarterly operational reports? Are there multiple operational goals that need to be aligned to the marketing metrics you are reporting on?
What’s In It for Me (WIIFM)?
In addition to operational reporting periods, alignment to personal reporting periods across your company should be considered when creating your marketing performance reports. Does your organization have short-term incentive plans and long-term incentive plans? How are these plans granted? Do they overlap with each other? What targets within these incentives are affected by marketing performance? Who are the key decision-makers that are incentivized in this way?
Understanding who your stakeholders are and how these incentive plans might guide their decision-making is important for any marketing leader looking to further engage stakeholder audiences. Depending on the size and nature of the organization, the majority of a decision-maker’s compensation may fall within variable pay programs that will guide their focus.
In recent years, the constant change driven by external factors like technological innovation has increased how quickly large change initiatives within organizations are introduced. These may divert a large amount of time and focus from key decision-makers and existing operational units. Due to the investment and disruption caused, many change initiatives need to start showing value immediately. Formal Benefits Realization Management (BRM) is often used to validate whether the strategies set by key decision-makers and the investments in time and resources associated with them have paid off.
As a marketer, are you aware of what these initiatives are? Do you understand the BRM framework being used? How soon after a change initiative are these benefits being reported? Does marketing performance directly or indirectly affect performance of benefits tied to these key initiatives?
The closer your marketing performance reporting is tied to the operational reporting key decision-makers care about, the better positioned you and your team are to influence what matters to your organization. This alignment will reduce the potential cognitive dissonance felt by any stakeholders reviewing your team’s performance and will ensure that consumer driven marketing continues to influence the direction of your organization as you move into the future.
About the Author: Paul Lacap is Director, Digital Strategy & Engagement, Marketing Communications Office, University of Manitoba