A long time ago during my very first professional job at an ad agency, the CEO made a not-so-profound statement that sticks with me to this day. He said one of the most important things that advertising professionals must do is cover their ass. This of course is sage advice in any industry, but especially so in advertising and marketing where performance is open to wide-ranging speculations if not measured and documented. A superb way to accomplish this creed is to conduct quarterly business reviews (QBRs).
Although not a new concept, QBRs are a smart discipline to adopt, and when done correctly, they’re pivotal to proving successes, highlighting areas for improvement and removing skepticism that can bog down beneficial creativity and innovation. They can also help form tighter bonds between internal departments such as sales, marketing and IT by providing transparency and data-driven insights with regard to processes, people and technology.
As the name implies, QBRs are a time to review, with internal teams, the progress made during the previous quarter. The structure of a QBR is the crucial determining factor to the wild success or dismal failure of your meeting. Here are some tips on structuring a successful meeting and presentation for your QBR.
- Invite all the appropriate stakeholders (more and more often, marketers will want to have reps from sales and IT present at the table). Only include those who will give or receive value from the meeting. Avoid including those who don’t have a clear connection to the results being reviewed; they can take up valuable time with questions and steer the meeting off track.
- Have a structured agenda focused on quarterly goals/objectives and performance measurement. Try to stay on topic, allowing tangential discussions to be addressed after the meeting. Your colleagues will appreciate the focus and sensitivity to their busy schedules
- Keep the meeting within 30-60 minutes — anything longer than this will likely cause the meeting to stray from the agenda.
- Focus on analyzing and discussing the metrics that matter for your organization (whether they be lead volume, conversion rates, customer engagement, etc.), jotting down actionable insights and potential strategies/tactics for program optimization.
- Review the quarterly goals; i.e., what your organization set out to achieve. Use specific language based on measurable achievements, such as pipeline revenue, total leads volume, MQL to SQL conversion rates, etc.
- Map results back to their sources (media, company website, live events, etc.). Understanding where your successes and failures came from is essential to smart optimization and also demonstrates wise campaign management.
- Identify all the winners and losers. This goes beyond media sources and into content, channels and marketing methods — the more you track the better. This data is crucial for making educated decisions for future programs that will yield optimal results.
- State your action plan (next steps) so everyone is clear on the process. This is an opportunity to delegate action items and responsibility. Gathering results is often a team effort. Let your peers know if, for example, you require more feedback on revenue generated or how long sales will nurture a prospect.
QBRs Force Transparency and Accountability
The value of conducting a review process is realized in multiple ways. Ultimately, it provides us with the information and direction needed to improve results. Just as important, however, it delivers transparency to stakeholders so everyone has visibility into the results and insight regarding the paths that led there. Moreover, it also makes us accountable for putting more “skin in the game.” Accountability forces us to own our marketing program outcomes. With the data available to marketers today, there’s no excuse for shying away from this responsibility.
There really hasn’t been a better time to perform meaningful QBRs. New marketing technology enables us to better track, measure, analyze and adjust programs based on real-time data. Even if you’re not currently utilizing marketing technology to monitor the complete buyer’s journey from first customer experience to purchase, and all the interactions in between, measure what you can and aim to improve. Your efforts will be appreciated by your peers and can help make a case for implementing the technology needed to make smarter decisions and improve results.