Digital Marketing

The 3Cs Framework: Talking Paid Marketing with the C-Suite

Time is a scarce resource, and especially at the C-level. A face-to-face meeting with the company’s senior executives is a rare opportunity to highlight your team’s successes and prove your department’s business impact. Here’s how to make the most out of it.

When presenting to the C-suite, marketers can borrow some techniques from sales. Take the “3Cs” framework (context, content, and contact). Top consultants use the “3Cs” when selling to top-level decision makers, and this framework applies just as well to a marketing presentation.

  • Set the context by framing your data into a cohesive narrative
  • Structure the content to support your insights with the right data and metrics
  • Contact your audience by connecting with their goals and values

Obviously, a PPC dashboard for an e-Commerce business will differ from that one of an in-house B2B software company. But no matter the case: solid data, convincing logic, and an engaging story will score you a strong “A” in your PPC report card.

1. Present Your PPC Metrics Within the Right Context

A PPC report for the C-suite should tell a story that is actionable at the executive manager’s level. Of course, you need a high-level summary. But don’t leave out the core PPC metrics; help your audience to make comparisons, see trends over time, analyze distribution, and understand relationships between metrics.

Here’re the foundational PPC reporting metrics to get started:

Spend How much money was spent on advertising for a given date range
Clicks How many times users click on your ad and get to the landing page
Impressions How many times users saw your ad
Click-through rate (CTR) The number of clicks divided by the number of impressions
Average cost per click (CPC) How much on average you were charged for a click (calculated by dividing the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks)
Conversions How many times a click turned into a business result (a sign-up, a sale, or any other action taken by the user)
Conversion rate The number of conversions divided by the number of clicks
Cost per conversion How much you pay for a conversion

As you work with these metrics, focus on how this data can provide insight into your PPC performance in a way that makes sense to the C-level executive. For example:

  • Show spend against your budget goal
  • Compare conversions and cost per conversion during one time period with that of a comparable time period to see trends over time. Year over year (YOY) and quarter on quarter comparisons are very common (2016 vs. 2017, Q3 vs. Q4)
  • Visualize spend distribution to show percentage by channel and network
  • Show spend and cost per conversion to explain how increasing your budget could help drive conversions at a lower cost.


PPC reports, advertising campaign reports, adstage
Use PPC reporting tools to visualize spend against your budget goal.

2. Structure Your Content Using the Minto Pyramid Principle

Developed by Barbara Minto, McKinsey’s first ever female consultant, the Minto Pyramid Principle is used to help business people to structure their writing, thinking, presenting, and problem-solving. The goal of the framework is to make it easy for the audience to consume information. The idea is that you start on top of the pyramid (your executive summary) and move down to your key insights and then down to supporting facts.

Start with your key recommendation.

By giving an executive manager your advice upfront, you’ll help her focus on the areas of your report that are most relevant. For example, “My key recommendation is to increase our testing budget. The learnings will help us inform our holiday budget allocation in the next quarter. Platform X and Y recently launched Z options for targeting and creative, and I’d like to explore how they will work for our brand. This quarter, we tested user-generated content vs. in-house produced ads, and UGC outperformed against ads by 8 percent. ”

Group your metrics and insights.

The data in each grouping should reflect one key idea or insight. For example, if you discuss your spend against the budget goal, you can group your spend by channels. Use visuals such as pie charts and graphs.


PPC reports; advertising campaign reports; adstage With PPC reporting tools, you can easily visualize your spend distribution by channels.


Organize your metrics in a logical order.

When analyzing things, people usually seek to identify cause/effect relationships, divide a whole into its parts, or classify similar things. So when you zoom in on your metrics, structure your thoughts logically. Say, you want to discuss an uplift in impressions. Start with the effect (impressions went up) and discuss the cause (we tested this new channel; we refreshed creatives and copy; we narrowed ad targeting). Or if you wanted to talk about spend across channels, you could visualize your paid search and paid social budget as a whole and talk about the ad networks as its parts.

You may want to follow a different approach for an interim check-in report, where you just walk your boss or client through your data and some of the insights. You can also adjust your presentation and go more granular when you share your report in writing. But for an in-person presentation for the C-level, the Minto Pyramid has proven to be effective by major consulting firms.

3. Contact and Build Rapport by “De-geeking” the PPC Lingo

When PPCers meet, their language seems foreign to an outsider. The subject of the conversation may shift from the latest Facebook Ads Manager update to discussing the early results of testing a new AdWords extension. These things are all exciting, but they don’t speak to the problems, values, plans, and desires of a C-level executive. So bring out the graphs and build rapport with the C-suite by learning their language.

AdStage’s Marketing Director, Mike McEuen, has great advice on translating PPC metrics into common business terms. Three more “C’s” from Mike will help you “de-geek” the report.

Take clicks. What are these clicks? Business people will relate better if you bring up website visitors or buyers and describe the audiences you’re targeting.

While “cost” makes much more sense to anyone outside of the PPC industry, frame it as “budget spend” and talk about relevant goals and metrics, such as percent spend, projected needs, year over year change, etc.

When you talk about conversions, use descriptive terms that show business value: “leads,” “sign-ups,” or “purchases.”

Showcase performance trends across channels, accounts, and campaigns with graphs, charts, or tables. Pull in your custom business conversions and metrics to paint the full picture, not just pay-per-click dollars. With tools like AdStage, you can upload data from your CRM, marketing automation systems, apps, BI tools, and billing systems to get a full view of how your teams are driving value for the business.

Closing Thoughts

After the presentation, leave some time for questions. When you don’t know the answer to a follow-up question, just say it and ask to get back to the executive via email.

As you’re using the “3Cs” framework to present your PPC report the executive audience, structure your report in a way that provides just enough context to grasp the essential insights. Use logical order to frame your content into a cohesive narrative. Finally, contact your audience by connecting with them through effective visuals and common language.


AdStage Team