Making Friends With Finance

MentorIt’s not uncommon for the finance and marketing functions to be at loggerheads in the office. Whether it’s about the wisdom of embarking on an expensive new marketing effort or finance professionals refusing to share the praise for positive financials with their peers in marketing, conflicts can abound. While Lincoln Martin amusingly compares the two functions to the Starks (marketing) and Lannisters (finance), a la HBO’s Game of Thrones, it generally isn’t the case that finance people don’t like or trust marketing people. It’s often an issue of poor communication. Marketers are in a good position to leverage their communications skillset to help bridge that gap.

The Communication Gap

There’s definitely a need for greater collaboration between the marketing and finance functions.  According to a 2015 Forbe’s article by Roger Trapp, “Increasing marketing spends in response to changing customer demands and channel proliferation in a digital world must be justified by effective measurement methods.” He points to an Ernst and Young study where half of the responding CFOs said measuring return on investment from marketing was a priority—but only 13 percent said the agendas of finance and marketing were completely aligned.

This suggests the need for better two-way interaction. CFOs and other finance executives do not always understand how best to evaluate the returns of a marketing project; marketing professionals don’t always understand how to demonstrate the value of what they’re doing to financial leadership – how to speak to those leaders in the language of numbers and return on investment.

Building your Internal Network

The first step in bridging the finance-marketing gap in your organization is just getting to know who you’re working with. Do you know the finance team in your office? Do you socialize with them outside of work or talk to them in the hallway? If not, collaborating internally may come with some challenges. This doesn’t mean you need to be best friends with a token finance person. But it’s good to develop meaningful internal relationships in order to be able to answer some more important questions: What does Carol from marketing do? How can Juan’s team help put some numbers behind my marketing proposal?

Strengthening the Relationship

In a Forbes article Steve Olenski wrote about strategies for increasing collaboration between the finance and marketing functions focusing on a few tips related to transparency, building trust and touting successes. For example, don’t sweep mistakes under the rug, share your success stories with finance, and be financially responsible with your marketing spend.

The finance group and the marketing team often have different perspectives on things and see different sides of marketing efforts. Finance may be focused more on cost, and marketing more on revenue, when it comes to those efforts. But there is obviously value in both viewpoints. Collaboration between these two groups can help drive shared goals and provide great benefits for the company as a whole.

What can you do within your organization to help build better relationships with the finance team?


For More Information:

How to Talk Social Media to Your C-Suite

How to Sell Social Media to the C-Suite

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