Preparing and presenting a Quarterly Business Report brings the same stress as that college thesis paper that counted for 75% of your grade. Except this particular assignment happens four times per year. The agency has worked its tail off meeting and exceeding KPIs, and diligently tracking everything for reporting purposes. But if the presentation is full of disorganized data and a narrative that jumps around, your clients are liable to think you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve covered the most effective types of PPC reports to pull, but the way you present the reports is just as important. Here’s how to create a cohesive story that’s easy for clients to follow and will ultimately earn you trust and authority.
It takes a village to put a comprehensive QBR together, but the final document should look like it’s coming from one entity. It’s easiest to create one template at the beginning into which teammates can drop information, but you also need to have a visual gatekeeper who’s responsible for going back through with a fine tooth comb and revising anything that feels off. By pulling reports from one place, i.e. Adstage, you’ve already done half the work for yourself, since the reports will all have the same look and feel.
Get your slides in order
Just because your data prints out in a certain sequence doesn’t mean you should present it that way. In fact, shuffle everything up to force yourself and the team to think through the strongest narrative. You should always start with your KPIs since that’s the reason for the QBR in the first place, but figure out where you can slide in more data, where the story should go after you review numbers, the best place to bring up new ideas, etc. If your slides are out of order, your story is going to be off. It could sound like someone trying to tell the tale of the Goldilocks, but the opening chapter is Goldilocks jumping out of baby bear’s bed when the homeowners return. Your audience is going to be confused about what’s going on.
Watch your length
Have you heard of the nine-minute rule? It’s based on the fact humans have short attention spans, namely the ability to concentrate on one subject for no more than 10 minutes at a time. The Forbes Agency Council suggests sticking close to it for the presentation. Make sure all the most important information comes at the beginning (and that you can cover all of it within 9 minutes), and use the remaining time for additional, but not crucial, details. That means you’ll have to determine how deep into each report you should go. But if you present the data in a clear, beautiful manner in the first place, you won’t need to spend time explaining every little piece.
Translate the data
Your graphs might look like a spider’s web of data and require 8 point type to fit everything in, but you should be able to sum it up in one sentence. For example, “Site traffic increased 8x as a result of shifting dollars to the PPC ad budget.” Remember, many people in your client’s office will likely take a look at the QBR, so make sure each slide includes a simple explanation of the data. Don’t rely on the people in the room to turn around and give the same presentation you did to the people who weren’t in the meeting.
Use the past to talk about the future
Treat your PPC reports as a guidepost and springboard for recommendations on where to direct business. Don’t just deliver the results. As a true agency partner, you should have a strong enough understanding of what worked, what needs tweaks, and what to ditch. Be able to make recommendations based on that information and your unique knowledge of the marketplace in which your client’s business competes. The fact that your reporting is streamlined and clear will give your client confidence you have a vision for the future and know what you’re talking about.
Check your work with a run-through
Grab a few people in the office who have never worked on the account and ask them to sit through a practice presentation. They should look for data that’s confusing, slides that seem out of order, holes in the narrative, and ask questions clients might ask. Run-throughs are invaluable before a big presentation for the reasons mentioned, but also to help time everything out. If it’s taking 20 minutes to get through the major points, you need to go back to the presentation deck and figure out how to shuffle and cut until you’re closer to the 9-minute mark.
If you haven’t been doing this already, send regular updates to clients to avoid surprises. It may be called a Quarterly Business Review, but don’t let that be the only time you’re sharing out info. Talking often means clients feel more involved in what’s going on, issues can be flagged and talked through before anything blows up, and you have the opportunity to share good news when it’s happening. AdStage offers the ability to have PPC reports automatically sent to clients at a customized cadence and with whatever metrics they want, so mini-QBRs take just a few minutes to prepare.
QBRs may be the biggest project you work on every three months, but at least they don’t count for 75% of your salary! Make the most of them with easy-to-pull PPC reports and a strong presentation that’ll knock their socks off.
I feel sorry for millennials; they get bad press. Perhaps the worst thing about being a millennial is that they are so typecast, but it may just appear to be that way due to the heaps of content they are all ‘supposedly’ producing about themselves! At the tender age of 43, I am of “Generation X”, but before I get shot down for being too old to comment on this (or anything at all if you believe the millennial hype), millennials should, if stereotypes are to be believed, love and want to be me, as I own a successful digital PR agency. As we know, “all” millennials work or at least (should) want to work in this sector.
Wikipedia (where else would I look for this piece) states that there is no precise start/stop date for being a millennial, but sort of suggests that to qualify, births range from the early-80’s to early 00’s. For the purposes of this piece then – folk between say 22-34.
(Millennial members of the Tank team.)
Demand Generation professionals need…?
Demand generation is all about developing relationships with prospect customers, existing customers and evangelists at all stages of the purchase process to create a stronger sales funnel. This, in the main, is achieved by identifying targets and then creating a marketing strategy to engage with them. In other words, feeding targets with excellent, relevant content and creating relationships that, one way or another, make them feel better and more informed about a brand.
In addition to sourcing, creating and delivering factual information and advice, agencies create stories. We judge a story by asking whether someone could feasibly tell that story to their friend in the pub. If they can, it passes the test. I believe that anything that passes that test should then theoretically be content that someone would like to read (audience), publish (journalist or influencer), or share (anyone on their own personal channels).
So given that the essential hub of all content is some kind of story or genuinely useful and targeted information – is this something that can only be created by a youngish person – a millennial? Of course it isn’t.
The ability to write with empathy, cultural understanding and persuasion perhaps should improve with age. Good writing, I believe, is a combination of technical excellence and life experience. Whilst experience is not the preserve of the middle aged and beyond, the odds of having more of it are definitely on their side. The most electrifying poets may have been teenagers and twenty somethings, but a person who can excite pet owners about buying a tin of cat food with a blog, probably has a few decades of actual cat ownership under their belt. Put it another way – given that the majority of the people with the most money are (much) older than millennials, as are most of the people that procure for businesses – are millennials always best people to understand and engage with these people?
Age Diversity in Agencies
It’s a shame that there isn’t more age diversity in agencies. The first decade of my career was spent with inspirational ad creatives and copywriters who were big in the 80’s and early 90’s. I’d like to say that when I worked with them, what made them great was that they cut their teeth in the hard drinking, no rules creative environments of the late 70’s, when they were the millennials in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t. It was actually that they just knew rules of engagement backwards and could create outcomes with words and pictures – as they knew what the customer wanted and needed. Talent, age, experience and training gave them this.
(The entire Tank team.)
One argument for a complete millennial team is their natural affinity with the tools of technology, both social and digital. Then I remember that I, and most of my agency, were taught 90 percent of everything we know about social media and to some extent search, by a man who is at the door of 50. He in turn learnt from someone older than him, and on it goes.
I work with lots of talented millennials, or as I call them, talented people. They make up much of my team, some clients and supply partners. They are not the only people who are required in the demand generation mix, though. Whilst some agencies will obviously have a totally millennial team, there is so much need for age and experience, too. The industry does have a hell of a lot of young people in it, and some people say it’s a young person’s game, due to the energy required to keep up in this fast-moving industry. That said, most of the good agencies that I know (our own being one of them) are staffed with a fair percentage of people over 34.
So, for me at least, demand generation teams should certainly not be solely made up of millennials.
Peter Levitan knows agencies. He ran Business development at Saatchi & Saatchi in Europe and North America, owned his own Portland agency and was a founder and CEO of two Internet companies. We were lucky enough to have him as our guest on Episode 38 of The PPC Show.
While we recommend giving the entire episode a listen, here are the top seven pieces of wisdom Peter Levitan shared with us while on the show:
- “We’re in a world where specialization wins.” If you’re looking to start your own agency, know that clients are looking for specialists. We’re no longer in the grand old days where agencies were either television, print, or radio. Know your specialty and make sure clients know it, too.
- “The more you blog, and the more you stick to a specific subject, then the more people will find you and love you.” Sticking to the theme of specialization, make sure your company blog follows this wisdom as well. People will seek out and enjoy your content if they know what to look for and what they’re getting once they find it.
- “How are you making money?” Whether you’re starting your own agency or work in an established one, make sure you can answer that important question. What’s your business plan? What is it that you’re selling? To whom? How much will they pay you? How much will you keep? About half of agencies don’t have consistent answers when faced with these topics.
- Run SWOT analysis with your team and then do something about it. Firstly, the exercise alone focuses the mind and can help you answer the questions in number 3. Secondly, make sure you set aside time to actually act on your findings from the analysis. Many agencies have a plan but they don’t run it. Make a plan for your business development and then be consistent about executing it.
- “Your website HAS to be a sales tool.” So many agencies fall into the trap of turning their websites into fun, creative projects or brochures. While that’s all well and good, if your website is not set up to make a sale, then it’s not doing much for you. Sales is a 24-7 game now and your website is doing a lot of that work for you. Make sure it’s set up that way.
- “PPC works. The more you can use it, the better.” If you want to get more clients, try running PPC ads. Test the major networks – Facebook, LinkedIn – and see what works best for you. If they work, are easy, and can fit into your schedule then you have your answer. If they don’t fit in your schedule, find someone at your agency who can be in charge of them. That’s really key. If no one is assigned to be in charge of PPC, you’re not going to get a lot out of that money.
- “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” Peter is a seasoned agency professional who now runs a completely internet-based business out of his house in Mexico and is thoroughly enjoying life. You can, too!
Not enough agency wisdom? Listen to the entire episode here:
Want to hear more from Peter Levitan? Check out his blog (nearing 600 posts), buy his book, and follow him on Twitter.
This was our first episode of The PPC Show broadcast on Facebook Live! Join us on Tuesdays at 10am PST on Facebook to hear from the biggest names in PPC!
I learned about Net Promoter Score in business school and, when I joined AdStage a few years ago as VP of Product, I thought this would be a great chance to put that skill to use. After all, Net Promoter Score is known as a universal measure for customer experience management. Once I went through the process of actually attempting to measure customer experience, however, it became clear that while the score might not be universally useful, the lessons learned in the process can be.
Getting to Know Your Users
When I first joined AdStage, step one was to make sure I truly understood our user base. Why do they use our product? What pain do we cure? How do they feel when they use it? That meant doing my best impression of a journalist delving into the complexities of a story. By the end of step one I had developed a true sense of empathy for our customers.
Step two was to go to the game film. This meant watching users as they attempted to use our product. I did this by combing through event data, user logs and even spending some time in our customers’ offices doing physical user shadow sessions. It doesn’t take long to realize users say they do one thing but actually do something very different. Ask a user if they like a feature and they’ll confidently say, “yes.” Yet you then watch them awkwardly scan the page and it’s pretty obvious they have never used that feature before.
Once I logged enough hours I felt like I had a great grasp of their workflows, mindset and behavior.
When Companies Should Employ Net Promoter Score Surveys
Like many B2B companies, we started with a handful of customers that used our product. It didn’t take long to connect with almost all of our users to learn their stories. Fortunately, that handful of customers grew to thousands. That meant I was no longer able to personally know every single customer and their challenges. I needed to put something in place to formally collect feedback.
How to Set Up Your Net Promoter Score Survey
There are lots of tools to automate your NPS survey (we use AskNicely) so it is sent to the right people at the right time. We wait 60 days after a customer has started paying for our product. This gives our customers enough time to use the product and give meaningful feedback. Remember: you want complete honesty, not a vanity metric. We then check in with another survey every 6 months.
With a little work you can also rig your customer communication tools (we use Intercom) to generate automated responses so you message Promoters, Passives and Detractors with a relevant and timely message. In my experience about 50% of people respond to my automated email asking for more detailed feedback. You can learn how to set up the Intercom Asknice.ly integration here.
The Question Itself:
A lot of people recommend changing the wording of your NPS survey question beyond the classic “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” However, in my experience, it seems like customers ignore the actual question text and just think of the 0–10 rating as a way to express general satisfaction. If there’s one thing NPS has done, it’s created a standard feedback mechanism that users complete at a higher rate than traditional satisfaction surveys. So I feel it is better to leave the standard question so users quickly and honestly respond. Rewording the question forces people to read and think. Both things they hate to do.
Why Companies Should Employ Net Promoter Score Surveys
The classic Net Promoter Score survey is calculated using the answer to the survey question regarding likelihood of recommending your product and a 10-point scale. Many believe this to be the core measurement for customer experience management programs worldwide and it can work if you’re a B2C company with tons of engaged users and a huge sample size.
However, we’re a B2B platform and we simply don’t have the same scale as a consumer app. And we don’t like touting data that we don’t have a high enough sample size to back. As a result, we use the Net Promoter Score survey as a means to collect qualitative feedback and as an early warning system to discover if a user is unhappy.
In the end, we don’t use the actual “score” in Net Promoter Score. However the survey and automated messaging we set up to send and manage NPS turned into a efficient way to illicit quick and honest sentiment from our users on a regular basis. To go back to my journalist analogy, it is the tip-line that points me in the direction of a user that I need to sit down with and interview.