How to market to your CFO

There’s an elephant in the C-Suite. 

According to a study highlighted by MarketingWeek, only 22% of CMOs feel they have a collaborative relationship with their CFO.  

This statistic signifies more than just different viewpoints due to roles with sometimes oppositional objectives. There's a massive disconnect in how marketing and finance departments communicate.  


Aligning marketing and finance on business goals

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The numbers don’t look good for marketers’ perceived fiscal responsibility. Only 7% of financial directors can exactly quantify what they get in return for their marketing spend and only 39% have confidence their marketing team will make smart commercial decisions.   

But it’s not all bad news for the marketing/finance dynamic. Over two-thirds of CFOs say they’re very willing to collaborate with their CMO peers. And 87% of marketers who do have a collaborative relationship with finance are satisfied with their ability to measure performance.   

It’s clearly worth pursuing a stronger relationship. After all, at their core, both finance and marketing are about making money for the business. Here are a few ways to turn that awkward elephant into a productive partnership. 

Champion joint ownership of business goals.
When objectives are shared between finance and marketing, it not only encourages better alignment of marketing strategies with financial goals but fosters a culture of openness and mutual respect. 

Quantify and communicate marketing’s value. Shift the narrative from seeing finance as just a funding source to recognizing them as a vital ally. Regular communication about how marketing initiatives positively impact the company's financial health is key. Sharing success stories and data where marketing directly increased sales or market reach can help finance colleagues see the broader impact of marketing efforts. 

Speak the language of finance. Develop an understanding of key financial metrics and learn how to present marketing results in these terms. Familiarize yourself with concepts like ROI, customer lifetime value, and cost per acquisition. This builds credibility and facilitates more effective conversations with finance colleagues. 

Build a strong brand narrative. Address the existing perception gap by clearly demonstrating how a strong brand strategy contributes to financial success. Articulate how brand awareness and customer loyalty lead to long-term profitability, reduced marketing costs, and increased market share to get buy-in on long-term initiatives. 

Finally, embrace transparent reporting. Maintaining detailed and straightforward reports that link marketing activities to financial results is vital. Providing regular updates on campaign progress and budget utilization will build trust over time.


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