December 6, 2023

majority of board members Intuitively understanding marketing is an essential part of any company’s growth engine. It not only powers the near-term sales engine, but also lays the groundwork for future performance.

When done well, marketing is the accelerator of any business. However, I’m noticing a growing trend in boardroom meetings to relegate marketing to a single metric—channel.

While marketing does play an important role in generating new sales leads, the strategic marketing function can play a larger role in a company’s near and future performance. In addition to generating demand, it shapes market positioning and increases awareness and brand reputation among existing customers, partners, media, analysts, employees, investors and potential acquirers.

As the company grows, it creates leverage and alignment across global teams, sales, recruiting, customer success, delivery, and virtually every other function.

Why do we short sell marketing?

I think the biggest reason is that marketing is a mystery to many board members.According to research from Spencer Stuartfewer than 3 percent of publicly traded Fortune 1000 companies have active marketing leaders on their boards.

It can be even lower for Series A companies where the board tends to consist of founders and investors, most of whom come from finance, product or operations backgrounds with little to no marketing experience (a big one in my opinion). Mistakes, but that’s a topic for another article).

When talking to data-driven board members, stick to something measurable: Marketing’s contribution to the near-term pipeline.

Second, every business leader needs to become more data-driven. Events and digital demand generation activities such as paid networking events and webinars are often easier to track and tie to near-term revenue than brand, content and corporate marketing.

Measuring ROI on things like brand campaigns, PR, analyst relations, and even internal communications can be difficult and expensive. Most companies understand that these aspects of marketing are important, but proving the ROI of these aspects requires data, systems and time that many young companies simply do not have.

That’s why business leaders stick to something measurable when talking to data-driven board members — marketing’s contribution to the near-term funnel. However, that’s only half the story, and honestly, it does a disservice to marketing (and board value).

Reshape Board Update

In a growth company, the role of the board goes beyond governance to guide and help support future performance. That means your board needs to know that marketing is doing well for the next few quarters, and is thinking about the years ahead.

As you put together your next board update for marketing, consider these five slides covering the five Ps:

  • what is marketing priorities?
  • Are you OK Performance against those priorities?
  • what is a health condition pipeline?
  • Are the company and its products position For future growth?
  • what is plan Next quarter or next year?

clear priorities

Sample quarterly marketing review with highlights and highlights.

Sample quarterly marketing review with highlights and highlights. Photo credit: Michelle Swan

Start with the areas of the business that marketing drives or supports. This can be expressed as quarterly goals, annual OKRs, or a strategic plan that maps back to larger business goals.

For example, if recruiting and retaining talent is a strategic imperative for the business, talk about how you can help refine and increase the visibility of your employer brand. If retaining and expanding customers is a top priority, it might be important to talk about how to enhance cross-selling within the team or promote thought leadership in a new area. If your team’s budget and time are prioritized, let the board know and tell them why.

show your performance

Examples of Marketing KPIs

Create scorecards based on marketing priorities that you can update and share at future meetings. Photo credit: Michelle Swan

Boards keep an eye on trends and progress, so create a scorecard based on these priorities that you can update and share at future meetings.

If you’re doing something new every month, that’s a red flag. Areas are rated red, yellow, green based on data, milestones reached or customer feedback to make them easy to consume. Make sure you “have red” Latane Conant6sense’s author and CMO likes to say. Acknowledging that there is a gap not only helps build credibility, it also gives you the opportunity to seek the board’s help.