Communication essential: value

There is a lot of conversation around showing value. Maybe more than I’ve ever seen in my 20-year career. This can be attributed to a few things:

  1. Budget scrutiny. As the pandemic settled in, companies were hyper-focused on a return for every dollar. Programs had to work. They had to move the needle.
  2. New budgets. Did your company reallocate budgets from … oh … I don’t know … travel? Trade shows? Events? I’m sure they did. So new groups were using new budgets in new ways. And they wanted to make sure they made the right choice.
  3. We saw companies remove layers, and all of a sudden the marketing and communications programs had the attention of higher levels within an organization. Meaning it most definitely better tie to a business objective.

Agencies have always lived in this world—well, at least they should be—as we are constantly trying to show value. It’s how we earn our living and our reputation. You hire us to do a job—we need to be able to prove we did it. And those that do it well always try to tie it to a business objective.

If you’re new to this level of accountability, I think there are a few valuable tips to glean from how agencies manage their metrics output:

  1. Connect the dots first. OK, so this might be obvious. But if you create something that you just know will work … and set up a way to prove it … only to find that there was no way to record or track if it worked, that’s rough. Connect the dots up front. Make sure you’re aligned with the specific team (HR, sales, digital) and tools that will prove your program works. Understand how the people who use your program are going to be tracking it. Otherwise, you are back to vanity metrics.
  2. CVRs (client value reports). Probably not a new term to sales teams but you have to show that you are bringing value. And not just in a ‘look what we made’ kind of way. Stating the objectives and then showing how—not what—you created value. These should be customized to each client and show a direct tie from your program to their business goal. [Note: If you want to see some examples of what these could look like, let me know.]
  3. CEO-ready content. Regardless of the vehicle—CVR or otherwise—whatever you create to show the value should be CEO ready. Meaning, if they only read the first page will they see how your program met a business objective? I tell people to think of it as a cover letter. You want people to see—and understand—the good stuff, quick.
  4. Track your progress. Good or bad! Show accountability by tracking your progress with reasons you are to goal … or not to goal. Either way be sure to provide context around what’s driving the result and what you’re projecting for the next period (quarter/month). This allows you the chance to answer questions before they are asked.

I’m sure there are so many more best practices out there. I’d love to hear some and will definitely share out. But the essential takeaway in this is to be proactive when it comes to your role in the success of the program or in meeting a business goal. Then be sure to show the value you and your team are creating to meet that.

As is always the case—don’t let someone else tell your story!