CMOs and CFOs have always been at odds with each other but today, this odd couple needs to find a way to collaborate for the sake and survival of their enterprise.
The Marketing and Finance department have always been at odds with each other. While the CMOs job is to spend, planning for the company’s investment, the CFOs’ job is to save as much as possible. Even though CMOs believe their department is an investment for their enterprise that drives revenue, their peer CFOs see the marketing department as an extra expenditure.
Moreover, since the marketing department requires a significant amount of investment from the company’s budget, CFOs tweak it as per required. This often results in demoralizing the marketers who feel their work is misunderstood and under-acknowledged.
A study conducted by Neustar/Forrester revealed that over 190 marketing and finance decision-makers said that it is critically important for their marketing and finance to be aligned on business objectives that include revenue growth and profit margins. Despite this, only 15% of C-suite executives said their team marketing and finance teams work together well, to achieve their shared goals.
In today’s volatile economic climate, enterprises, both large and small, struggle to survive the blow of pandemic. Even though the COVID-19’s effects are slowly receding, the effects are going to last for a while. Hence, it is time for CMOs and CFOs to step aside their differences and see the post-pandemic to lay a foundation and forge their relationship for the enterprise’s success.
Below are a few approaches they can try to strengthen their relationship, for the business good of the company:
Speak the Same Language
The emergence of martech tools and measurement capabilities has drastically changed the marketing environment. Digital-first has become the new language of the marketing world. Similarly, the finance department that acts as the guardian of the company’s treasure has evolved with time and has built a tendency to say “No.”
Understanding the trends and advancements in each other’s world can serve as a good beginning for forging the CMO-CFO relationship. Sharing trend data, news articles, opinion pieces, research reports, and much more can help to speed up the insights and appreciation in each other’s world.
CMOs and CFOs can take a step further by inviting each other to their respective departments for meetings as well as organizing training sessions.
Take that a step further: Invite one another to speak at your next department-wide employee meeting, or organize a mini-training session. Two particularly valuable areas for internal training are – improving financial literacy among marketing leaders and increasing customer understanding among finance leadership executives.
Aligning the Metrics
Marketing departments often dabble with black-box metrics or vanity metrics based-on brand equity, total impressions, influencer engagement that they love. They are often the only ones who can effectively decipher the language of customer data. The inability to understand this language of marketing, results in CFOs losing the confidence and trust in the marketing jargon.
Going forward, marketing metrics must adopt the standard language of business, i.e., accounting. It focuses on the core business outcomes such as revenue, profit and share price. From investors to employees, every person can grasp its nuances. And using it for marketing metrics can increase the confidence of CFOs, thus ensuring that they will back a marketing campaign’s investment.
Seeking Collaboration Opportunities
Seeing the criticality of today’s economic crisis, CMOs and CFOs should strive to seek out collaboration opportunities, and work to team up on as many projects as they can. This will help to culminate trust and understanding, and also provide opportunities to break down stereotypes and misconceptions.
Also, such cross-functional collaboration will force them to move out of their comfort zones and respective silos, and focus their efforts and attention to achieve enterprise-wide goals.
2020 has been the year of extremities, a year of breaking general notions. Likewise, today’s CMOs and CFOs should actively participate in breaking down this stereotype and present a front that they work together, to collaborate for the success of their organization.