On Alignment between Marketing and Finance

Many marketers are quickly approaching their favorite time of year. Okay, not really. I’m of course talking about budget time.

When I see the challenge that marketers face when it comes to getting their budgets approved, I wonder why it has to be so hard?

Last year, I highlighted a report by MarketingSherpa which concludes that marketers need to do a better job capturing and communicating their value.

According the MarketingSherpa research, “…only 17% of B-to-B marketers we queried were sure their CFOs understood the value of lead generation programs.”

Last week, I read a short BtoB article by Carol Krol that shows that this continues to be a challenge. Her article summarizes some new research by the Association of National Advertisers in conjunction with Marketing Management Analytics.

Krol writes, “The study found that a relationship between marketing and finance is often lacking. Sixty-one percent of marketers surveyed for the study said there is “some” cooperation between the two departments when establishing metrics and methodologies for measuring marketing ROI, while only 22% said there was “full” cooperation.”

Each discipline is vital to the success of the company and they must work together as team. But I believe that most of our colleagues in finance don’t fully understand marketing. It’s not a surprise that financial executives still view marketing as an expense, a.k.a. cost center, rather than viewing it as an asset that creates revenue.

As marketers we need to do more to educate our peers on the value of marketing. We need to act as one team and seek to understand each other better and learn each other’s language. Bottom line: it’s the numbers. So why not begin with that?

Also, I think financial executives should invest time to understand how their marketing team works by sitting in on meetings, observing marketing programs in action and participating in the planning process.

Marketing is tough and often financial people (those who haven’t done it) can’t fully appreciate the challenges of marketing in a vacuum. They need to get involved especially when they are supporting a more complex sale. Finally, I recommend financial executives seek to understand how well their sales and marketing teams are working together to generate revenue.

I think the late Dale Carnegie has a great quote in his perennial best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People that summarizes my point.

He writes, “I go fishing up in Maine every summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream; but I find that for some strange reason fish prefer worms. So when I go fishing, I don’t think about what I want. I think about what they want. I don’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangle a worm or a grasshopper in front of the fish and say: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?” Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

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