top of page

Ten essentials for a marketing update to a private equity board

Perhaps your business has just received private equity investment, or you’ve recently joined a private equity backed business as the Chief Marketing Officer. Your first board meeting is approaching, and you’ve been asked to create a marketing update to include in the board pack. You want to make a good impression but have no idea what is expected.

Based on my experience of both creating and reading many board packs, I’ve created this simple ten-point guide that might just save you time and a few long evenings, and hopefully help you to create a constructive conversation with your board.

Marketing board pack contents

  1. Demand indicators – think of these as your ‘inputs’: e.g., share of traffic in organic/paid search (ideally on more than just your Top 10 search terms); partner introductions / referrals; content views.

  2. Funnel conversion metrics and change over time: this could be vs last year in a seasonal business or last month / quarter otherwise. You might not own all the conversion steps, but you are best placed to show the end-to-end journey.

  3. If you have a longer sales cycle – show your pipeline by segment (e.g., customer or product type), stage and change from last month. I’m always wary about using a weighted pipeline unless the %s are based on robust historical data, so as a minimum show both weighted and unweighted values.

  4. Overlay your target customer segment(s) / Ideal Client Profile(s) on your pipeline / won customers – to show whether you are winning where we want to be.

  5. ROI analysis of your marketing spend based on proper attribution – potentially on single transaction/ contract value and/or estimated lifetime value. Include a breakdown by channel to avoid the Flaw of Averages!

  6. Depending on scope of your marketing team – include a focus on existing customer performance. This could potentially include lifecycle marketing, a separate pipeline and funnel for cross-sell and up-sell, together with gross and net retention metrics.

  7. Update on competitive positioning and relative performance – such as share of traffic, financial metrics where publicly disclosed, presence of direct competition in proposals for B2B, or any significant news from competitors. This is all about giving context on your performance and demonstrating that you are aware of what is going on in the wider market.

  8. Summarise customer feedback – including public reviews, and with a comparison to competitors where possible. Show the new/change rather than just the total or average which will move slowly. The gold standard is your own measurement of customer NPS (or a similar measure of customer advocacy) and a summary of the key issues for detractors with your plan to address them. In my experience, marketers are best placed to champion customer views, as opposed to leaving this for the operations section of your board back.

  9. Distil your main marketing activities into 3-5 initiatives and explain what you are doing, what outputs you expect, and how these translate into value creation (growth and/or improved margins) and reduce risk. For example – building a new suite of landing pages, thought leadership development, appointing a new agency, launching new marketing channel, developing an app. Provide a view on status and delivery timelines, with a clear summary of what the board should expect to see delivered ‘by next month’.

  10. This is last in my list, but could well be first in your presentation – a summary of key messages. You could write this as a list of things that are working vs need improvement, a summary by market, by channel or even just a summary of things that are on your mind. But think of this as your opportunity to shape the conversation you want to have with the board, as well as to demonstrate that you know what will be on their minds.

Could these topics help to improve the quality your board conversations about marketing? Of course – please treat this list of topics as a starting point, you will clearly want to tailor this to your business model, the remit of your marketing function, and to evolve it over time. It might be that you don’t have all of the data available that I describe here – in particular if you are new to the business. It is okay to have a placeholder at first, or to describe that you are working on creating improved KPIs (and certainly better than just excluding a topic from your update).

In terms of length, it is entirely credible to have just one page on each of the above topics, so 10 slides. You might have a couple of additional pages ad-hoc if you are sharing some deep-dive analysis, but the emphasis should be on clarity of communication.

I thought it would also be helpful to offer some general tips to keep in mind when preparing your update:

  1. If you include an KPI, include a comparison and ideally a target. Numbers without context can be confusing and frustrating for those who aren’t in your business every day.

  2. Minimise jargon – talk about website visits rather than sessions, display ads rather than programmatic.

  3. Focus on the money – conversions, revenue, margins, spend and ROI. Use top of funnel metrics sparingly (e.g., ‘impressions’ or ‘eyeballs’).

  4. Avoid spin – you should give equal weight to what is ‘working’ and ‘needs improvement’. Your investors should understand that not everything will work first time and are instead looking to see that you test and learn at pace.

  5. If something ‘needs improvement’, be clear on your plan to get it back on track.

  6. Avoid historical description of activities and instead give a forward view of initiatives.

  7. Make sure your CFO is comfortable with how you are using financials – if an investor sees a discrepancy in the numbers this will be a distraction.

  8. Step back and think about your key messages.

  9. Run it through with a board member beforehand e.g., the Chairperson.

  10. Ask for feedback after your presentation.

  11. If asked for additional analysis, avoid them becoming regular slide unless necessary - otherwise your 10 slides will quickly become 20+ (I speak from experience!)

Every company and board will be different, with established ways of working and preferences – so make sure to seek guidance from your CEO, chair and potentially investor ahead of preparing your board update. I hope that the above structure will help you to go into your first board meeting feeling prepared and demonstrating that you’ve tried to put yourselves in the shoes of your board colleagues and anticipate what they are seeking to understand. Have a try and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your feedback.

If you’d like to discuss how you can understand and improve marketing performance for a private equity-backed business, please Contact Me.

All views expressed in this post are the author's own and should not be relied upon for any reason. Clearly.



Subscribe to get my ideas as they are published

Thanks for subscribing - I normally publish ideas at the start of each week.

bottom of page