Red on Marketing Blog

Guesses, Fibs, & Reports: The 2 glaring problems with end-of-month reporting

At a Silicon Valley PR agency where I used to work, end-of-month reports were a giant combination of legitimate (albeit pretty late) information, guesses, and fibs. At B2B Communications, clients view results directly, as often as they want.

In the late 90s I worked for a Silicon Valley PR agency that launched business to business technology companies. If you were a client, you'd have received long reports at the beginning of each month, recounting activity in 15-minute increments and results over the past 30 days.

Naturally, as an employee of this agency, I was required to provide detailed end-of-month reports. So after 300+ hours of delivering client services each month, I spent 20+ hours preparing reports.

The goal: cost-justify retainer dollars by linking every activity, every action, to a concrete result.

"Makes sense," you're probably thinking, "that's what I'd want if I were investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultants."

I know. Cost-justifying does make sense. But I was absolutely terrible at end of month reporting.

Guesses and fibs

For one thing, when your job is to foster relationships (eg editors), not every activity ties to a tangible result. Not even close.

For another, I had gaps in my records. I did not record what I did during every 15 minute increment. So to come up with what I had to send, I guessed. And worse... I fibbed. I still feel guilty about it, 20 years later.

And that was just at the individual level (me). A higher-up had to roll individual reports together.

On paper, we were sublimely efficient pitching drones.

And some months we truly did do great things. Great things like helping our client form a relationship with the chief analyst in their niche at Gartner Group. Like getting on the cover of Business 2.0. Like winning a plum speaking opportunity at a prestigious conference.

Other months, not so much.

If you got one of these agency reports, what would you have done with it? Take the self-assessment with a grain of salt. And turn attention back to key performance indicators that executives care about, like potential deals with customers and VCs.

Agencies controlled key information - and that information was power. Moreover, the information was pretty far after the fact.

The right marketing system ensures accountability

If you are our client today, you don't get rosy self-assessments about last month's activity. Instead, because we'll make sure you have right marketing system in place, you can see marketing results pretty much in real time. You choose when you get what information about results, and you get the information directly - unvarnished.

For example:

  1. Have we succeeded in getting your book to market (like with Greg Carroll's Mastering 21st Century Enterprise Risk Management)? Look for referrals and conversions to starting increasing on the same day.
  2. Have we earned you press coverage (like Fiona helped Innovationship land in Forbes a couple of months back)? That will show up in good inbound links and an uptick in downloads and meeting requests, starting the hour the article appears.
  3. Did we help you make powerful landing pages and emails about a new video series (as with the When Will It Burst series produced by Jeff Hopkins)? You'll get a sense of click through rates within minutes of sending.
  4. Is a particular tweet or LinkedIn post getting shared by your prospects and clients?Likes and shares can happen in seconds...

Opt for extremely granular, as-it-happens reporting if you want. Or choose to get just the highest level of info once a month. Or set granularity and frequency anywhere in between.

So, there a live web cam in the hen house now. The fox has disappeared. And us chickens can concentrate on the real work: laying eggs.

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Topics: Performance