Meetings suck. They're time for people to avoid doing actual work, stare blankly at each other, throw in generic comments to look like they're paying attention, and if you're lucky, maybe come out with some wicked notebook doodles.

Is that how people perceive your marketing meetings? I hope not, because they don't actually have to be that way.

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You could turn it into something that's actually useful by -- you guessed it -- creating compelling content! (Oh my gosh, inbound marketing concepts work in real life, too!) Because the thing is, as your team grows, it really is important for everyone to get in a room together and talk about what they've been working on in their corner of the world. So to ensure those marketing meetings aren't blocks of time your team dreads, take these tips for how to make marketing team meetings truly useful for your employees.

Components of Every Successful Marketing Team Meeting

Whether your marketing team meeting is a weekly event or a monthly one, this section will explain the content that should be there every single time. We also recommend creating a slide deck for each meeting that you project for the entire team to see so you can all follow along with each agenda item.

Set an Agenda

Speaking of agendas, set one. You should have a dedicated agenda slide for every meeting laying out three things:

  • What will be discussed in today's meeting
  • Who will be leading each discussion
  • How much time is allotted for each discussion

Take a look at one of our recent marketing team meeting agenda slides, for example:

marketing meeting agenda

Breaking out who is talking, the topic they're covering, and how much time they have to discuss it will help prevent the meeting from getting derailed and prevent people from delving into unproductive conversations that are best had at another time and place.

Review Important Metrics

Next, do a quick review of your most important marketing metrics. These shouldn't be niche metrics, like email unsubscribe rate, social media reach, or blog subscriber growth; save those for your monthly meetings where you review month-over-month progress. These should be the metrics your marketing team is measured on. In other words, at the end of the month, what metrics will tell you whether the marketing team succeeded?

While every business will likely review something different depending on their business model, here are some ideas for you:

The point of reviewing your team's important metrics is that they're what you're measured on as an overall marketing team. And if you don't all know how you're faring as the month progresses, individual contributors can't do anything to step up and help your team's numbers improve.

A Bit of Education

Marketing meetings should be a healthy mix of state-of-the-union content, and educational content. Each week, have a couple team members present briefly about interesting projects they've been working on. This serves two purposes: it lets people know what their team members do all day; plus, they get to learn something new!

Think about it ... wouldn't it be interesting for a blogger to learn a little bit about a PPC experiment? Or for a social media intern to learn about the results of the latest email A/B test? Sharing lessons from projects helps everyone expand their knowledge base, sidestep landmines if a project backfired, and implement effective new techniques that they never knew worked. Boom, everyone leaves your weekly meeting a smarter, better marketer!

Big Wins

A little bit of recognition is a good thing. Set aside a couple of minutes -- come on, you can't find 5 minutes? -- to showcase some of the amazing things team members or the department as a whole have accomplished. This could be anything from press coverage, speaking engagements, engaging with power players on social media, a smash hit blog post, an email that received unprecedented click-through rates ... you get the point. It's easy to harp on where you're falling behind, but a little cheerleading can help rally your team and remind them just how successful they can be when they put their mind to it.

Solicit Help

Everyone should have the opportunity to solicit help from team members during your marketing team meetings. The larger your team gets, the easier it is to work in silos -- but everyone has their own little super powers that sometimes go unnoticed. If there is a platform during every meeting for employees to share (if they need it) something they need a little help with, you may find others pipe up with a simple solution or resource that solves the problem.

There should also be a few minutes built into each presentation for a little feedback. If someone is presenting on the progress of an ongoing project, part of "soliciting help" may be getting feedback on what steps to take next. Is this project still worth pursuing? How should we measure the success of this project? Does anyone have a solution to a major roadblock?

So while there should be a few minutes at the end of each meeting dedicated solely to giving employees the floor to solicit help, time for feedback should be built into presentations if the presenter needs it.

Components to Add to Your Monthly Marketing Team Meeting

Monthly marketing team meetings might be slightly different than weekly team meetings, because many marketing departments run on monthly cycles. That means in addition to everything from the previous section, at the beginning of each month you have last month's numbers to review and the current month's goals to discuss. Here are a few things you should consider adding to the agenda during your monthly marketing meeting:

Review Last Month's Numbers

You know those marketing metrics you decided to measure and review in the first section? The ones that noted your team's progress throughout the month? Now's the time to see whether you hit your goals or not! If you hit your goals, do two things: celebrate, and explain exactly why you hit those goals. That second one is critical. Someone should explain what marketing activities strongly contributed to you hitting, say, your leads goal. That way you can repeat those activities this month!

The Nitty Gritty Retrospective

Your monthly meeting should also contain a review of the projects each employee (or if you're a larger marketing department, each team) worked on last month, plus the results they've seen. This is good for a few reasons. First, it keeps everyone accountable knowing that each month they need to stand up in front of their colleagues and explain just what they do all day. Second, everyone gets to learn from what everyone else worked on and become generally better marketers. Third, it helps everyone identify how individual teams are faring, and what projects they're doing to improve their own metrics.

For example, if you have a social media team, this is their opportunity to report on the success of every single social network they manage. How is their reach faring? How much traffic are those networks sending to your site? How many leads are being generated? Why are some networks more successful than others? Because your weekly meetings focus on more high-level, team-based metrics, a monthly meeting is a good opportunity to do a deep dive into the channels and metrics that enable the entire team to meet its goals.

How You'll Meet This Month's Goals

After the retrospective, each employee or team should also present on their individual goals for the month, and how exactly they will meet those goals. This is not the time to be generic. Teams should explain, point by point, everything they'll be doing during the month to meet the metrics they're measured by. For example, let's say the email marketing team is responsible for driving more reconversions this month. What exactly will they do to, well, do that? Well, that slide might have some initiatives like A/B test email copy with and without a P.S., an offers analysis to determine which offers convert at the highest rate, list segmentation experiments, tailoring lead generation offers to align more closely with personas to improve CTR ... the list could, and should, go on.

This is also a critical time in your meeting for feedback. Build in time during every presentation -- at least 5 minutes, more if you find you need it after a few meetings -- for each team to solicit feedback on their proposed projects. This will help individual teams from getting derailed on projects that might not help them meet their goals, or perhaps other members of the marketing team have fantastic ideas that the teams hadn't even thought of yet!

Tips for Making Everyone Love You

Now that you know the content to include in your marketing team meetings, let's discuss a few ways to make those meetings run smoothly. These are the types of things that, despite useful content, can make or break the usefulness of any marketing meeting:

  • Keep it on time. That means you start on time, you end on time, and individual presentations do not go over their budgeted time. I know it's hard, especially when there's a good discussion going on, but have a timekeeper who lets presenters know when they're coming up to the end of their allotted time. If you're vigilant about this, people will start to self-edit their presentation, and meeting-goers will self-censor their comments, only contributing what truly needs to be said.
  • Don't allow computers. Said the internet marketing company. Seriously though, only the meeting coordinator should have a computer to pull up the agenda and presentations. If others bring their laptops, you'll find people can't help but check their emails, get little bits of work done, and chat online, no matter how riveting the presentations are.
  • Give me a break. Your weekly meeting may only be 30 or 60 minutes, but your monthly meeting could take a lot longer. In that case, build in time for people to get up, stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, whatever. You'll start losing people's attention otherwise.
  • End every meeting with action items. Whatever you talked about during your meeting should be revisited briefly at the end of the meeting, preferably by the meeting coordinator. If you spend 20 minutes talking about how to solve your lead shortage problem at the beginning of your 90-minute meeting, there's a good chance some of the to-dos and initiatives trickled out of people's minds. Make sure there's someone taking notes throughout the meeting, and allot 5 minutes at the end of every meeting to review what people should start doing once they walk out of that meeting room.

How do you keep your marketing meetings useful, instead of a waste of time? What do you think should be excluded from marketing meetings?

Image credit: Charles Williams

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Originally published Jul 26, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017