Make the Most of Your Annual Report

An annual report is a detailed overview of your company’s key moments and metrics from the past year. It should provide a summary of overall performance and finances, formatted as a kind of “Year in Review”. Reports can get a bad reputation for being data heavy, lengthy and fairly dull projects – but we want to convince you that this doesn’t need to be the case! Done right, a report can offer so much more, and can provide a great piece of marketing for the business. Here are B1’s top tips for creating an effective annual report:

Give the Inside Scoop

An Annual Report essentially offers an “under the bonnet” glimpse at the inner workings of your business. You may want to look at profits and expenditure, future plans, employee treatment, an executive or CEO summary, and a comparison of data to previous years.

Whereas many people may take standard methods of marketing with a pinch of salt, reading an organisation’s annual report feels different as there is an implicit honesty to them. Readers are getting a sneaky peak behind the scenes of your business – so give them what they came for!

Be Transparent

Whilst you should definitely emphasise the positives and use the opportunity to celebrate the year’s achievements, don’t cover up any imperfect data. So long as nothing dodgy is going on, then some imperfect metrics are OK! Transparent businesses build trust, and your donors, members, or clients want to know where their money is going and how you are working to constantly improve this.

Remember also that Annual Reports are for you and your employees, as well as the public. Identifying areas for improvement is an important reason to carry out these reports. Use this data to establish aims and objectives for the coming year with your company, and make sure you all work to hit these targets. This will improve your overall business, make employees feel involved, provide the business with a focus for the following year, and hopefully give you some great improvement data to show off in next year’s report!

Communicate with Your Network

Annual reports can be combined with an Annual Newsletter. Open the report with an executive summary from the business director, and celebrate the achievements of the year.

The Annual Report is also a great opportunity to give gratitude and thanks to your donors, customers, members, employees, or volunteers. If you can back this up with data to demonstrate the impact that different people have had, then this can advertise the effectiveness of your business, and encourage people to continue offering their support, time, money, and efforts.

Be creative with the page format and use colour, and design elements to better convey key company stats, rather than overwhelm the reader with boring graphs and charts.

Sell the Business

Not literally – just be positive! Demonstrating achievements throughout the year is one way to make the most of Annual Reports. Good reports will tell the world (and remind you!) exactly what you do, why you do it, and how successful you are. Three key points to consider are:

Your story:

– Use this as a chance to get across the story of your business, leading up to the achievements of this past year.

– Think about your goals and the future of the business. What do you expect and what do you want?

Your impact:

– Social impact – what do you do for the local or wider community? Are you or any of your employees involved with a charity?

– Environmental impact – are you moving towards being a paperless company? What changes have you made over the last year to improve your environmental footprint?

Your value:

– How does your business benefit your clients/customers/members/donors.

– The value of your product or services as a whole, to consumers and to the whole of society.

Your personality and culture:

– Express your professionalism, philosophy, and unique working culture.

– Show off what you do for your employees, what the benefits of working for the business are, and how you ensure a fair and open working environment.

Make it Visually Appealing

Use your Annual Report as an opportunity to show off your business’ creativity, personality, and awesome brand identity. No one wants to read a text and data heavy document. Be creative with the page format and use colour, and design elements to better convey key company stats, rather than overwhelm the reader with boring graphs and charts. Many companies now publish their reports online, so consider making your report primarily digital and interactive. This way, it will have a broader reach and enable the reader to interact with the report in a different way from a printed document.

All in all, annual reporting doesn’t need to be boring, time consuming, or complicated. B1 have designers to create visually compelling reports, and the experience to present key information as clearly and interestingly as possible. We will work closely with you to establish your objectives, achievements, and personality, creating reports you can be proud of, in both digital and print. Check out our most recent creation and glowing testimonial below. Contact us to find out how we can breathe life into your next annual report.