A solid relationship between marketing and finance can go a long way to help drive business results – but that’s easier said than done. Marketing spends money, finance invests it. However, organizations that find ways to successfully integrate finance and marketing are more nimble, successful – and happier teams.
When marketing and finance teams don’t work together effectively, companies run the risk of an “us versus them” or, “our numbers versus your numbers” situation, which is an unhealthy relationship.
From a marketing standpoint, this can be very frustrating as the team may have worked diligently on a robust marketing plan that needs funding, only to be shut down at the 11th hour by finance.
And from a finance perspective, being asked to spend money on a marketing campaign without a guaranteed forecast is a tall order to fulfill. Often, funding needs to be moved around, and reports need to be adjusted/updated to finance the project.
Having both teams collaborate often and early can make for a happy and healthy relationship that improves the bottom line. Collaboration and communication as well as sharing in successes can bring to light new insights as both teams form a better understanding on both sides. Several examples of companies effectively leveraging this approach are shared in this recent Marketing Week article.
For instance, at the job search site, Monster, a dedicated finance partner is assigned to marketing teams. He or she is an integral part of the team and helps to add greater clarity from an ROI perspective.
With finance at the heart of the process, the department is now able to contextualize better the decisions made by marketing team’s and see those decisions expressed in a data framework that is related to the business.
“When I joined Monster one of the things they were struggling with a little bit was that the finance guys could see big costs going into marketing and they were not entirely sure how to quantify the return… Most CFOs want to grow the business and invest money in the right places, so if they can see that there is a tangible value there and understand how that value transpires it helps them make better decisions and they feel more comfortable in dealing with marketing spend.” – Andrew Warner, CMO at Monster
At the Energizer Group, finance physically sits alongside sales and marketing, which puts the team in a central position to better support business functions.
“…The way I see it, a good finance manager is someone who will make our lives simpler and think about ways to simplify our projects, because the last thing we want is for the financial planning to be a hurdle.” – Richard Podevin, segment director (EME) for personal care at the Energizer Group
Along with collaborating on annual budgets, Podevin’s team works with finance on ongoing budget management and the analysis of ROI.
“We work together on a daily and weekly basis. We have a monthly budget meeting where myself and my team meet with the finance managers to make sure that the purchase orders are raised as planned and the plan is circulated as agreed… I also have weekly cross-functional team meetings, which the finance manager attends, to ensure information is shared within the company.”
Regarding additional ways marketers can improve their relationship with finance, this recently updated HubSpot article shares a few excellent tips.
Instead of treating finance as a “piggy bank” in which conversations are centered solely on how much money is needed to support a new marketing campaign, consider the CFOs goals and concerns first. In other words, think of your CFO as you would think about a “buyer persona.” What keeps the CFO up at night? How does he or she like to make decisions? What problems does he or she face on a regular basis?
By considering and better understanding the view of finance before you ask for money, CMOs can better present their business case in a way that will help solve their buyer personas needs.
Also, learning to speak the same language as a CFO can go a long way. Most CFOs love numbers. Concepts that seem abstract to them, such as branding, reach or engagement, could possibly make them uneasy.
However, by speaking more in specific cause and effect terms, for example, “If I spend X dollars on this, I will get X dollars in revenue,” then you can better set yourself up for success when seeking additional funding.
How Collaboration Sessions Should be Conducted
Because these cross-functional conversations involve money, and often require visual explanations, meetings/collaboration sessions should take place in-person, not via a series of emails or phone conversations.
However, if an in-person meeting is not feasible, teams can leverage video conferencing for that same face-to-face interaction. This allows teams to hire the best talent regardless of location while still having visual collaborative encounters. Plus important documents can be shared and reviewed together, while instant messaging allows ad-hoc banter amongst teams.
On the subject of collaboration, this article talks about how CFOs and their teams can play an active role in creating a collaborative culture, and make decisions that benefit the company as a whole using video and other collaboration tools.
All in all, a successful relationship between marketing and finance will make any organization stronger, more flexible and most importantly – successful. Forming a positive relationship between marketing and finance works for everyone, and collaborating often and early can be the first step to success.