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Finding the marketing sweet spot for the Finance Department

There’s always been a palpable tension between CFOs and marketers, but now research conducted by Marketing Week, means it’s quantified. And the reason why is probably clear in this one stat:-

76% of finance executives cannot put a figure on the financial return generated
by a company’s marketing.

In the world of marketing, metrics are everything. We’re obsessed with digital and measuring the amiability of our brand’s social life. The industry’s media, commentators and ‘experts’ are constantly banging on about qualifying our actions and campaigns… yet somehow it seems to be missing a key stakeholder – the money holders!

In management terms, marketers are great at talking and full of self-belief (a fact which belies the discrepancy between marketers and finance executives’ views in the charts below).

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There is no question that marketing, as the articulator of inspiration, is the natural home for innovation and creativity in most organisations. But if the talk isn’t converted into tangible outcomes, and by tangible I mean results that a board can get their head around not just the comms fraternity, then it won’t inspire commercial confidence (hence 43% of finance executives didn’t agree that the head of marketing has a strategic influence over their business).

Marketing tends to be one of the biggest outlays in an organisation, and as such it needs to be justified not indulged, worth it, not worthy. Knowing the marketing spend is not the same as knowing its value, and speaking brand is no longer enough. We need to speak business and especially “returns”.

The importance of getting this right is both self and brand serving. The research found that less than half of organisations studied had marketers on the board and it’s not a big leap to connect this with marketing’s inability to instil confidence in the discipline’s merit as a business function and cost base. There is a clear link between market-centric companies and performance, and between brand and share value. But just because we as marketers know this exists doesn’t mean we can rest smugly on our laurels. We need to prove our relevance along with our commercial credentials week in week out. To communicate our plans, our results and our analytics, and to do so to the broader management including finance.

We need to be critical of ourselves and see our strengths and weakness through others’ eyes. And we need to ensure we communicate a commercially-based brand strategy, and not just disparate disciplinary tactics. Because in order to be more quantifiable and accountable, marketing needs more synergies than silos.

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