Previously, I wrote about marketing leaders aligning themselves with the chief information officer. That worked, didn’t it? Well, you can thank me later. (For the record, I’m a sucker for fruit baskets.)
The road to chief marketing officer stardom doesn’t end at the CIO’s office, though. You should consider making another stop a few doors down (or boxes across on the organization’s flowchart) to talk to someone else who can help in making the journey a smooth one. That’s right, it’s time to make another new friend—the chief financial officer, or CFO.
So, why should the lovable, well-liked CMO pair up with the by-the-books, by-the-numbers, budget-buzz-killing CFO? While it may seem like an unlikely duo, the CMO-CFO pairing could be a team for the ages, the Turner and Hooch or C-3PO and R2-D2 of the 21st century business world. Now, there’s a buddy movie I’d pay to see.
But seriously, why the CFO? In a recent study by Active International, 77 percent of CMOs and 76 percent of CFOs indicated that the alignment between the two departments is important for business success. A Marketing 2020 survey showed that where the CMO’s department works closely with finance, more than 40 percent of respondents outperformed expectations. Thus, the CMO-CFO pairing is crucial.
There are a lot of intricacies to having a relationship with the CFO. The CFO not only holds the purse strings, but also determines success or failure for any of your marketing efforts. In that regard, the CFO is the judge, the jury and the executioner. It’s paramount to remember that the CFO is a friend, not an enemy, and that the CFO is working for the greater good of the company, just like you, but from a different perspective.
Let’s face it; our relationship with money is complicated. The CMO role is unique in that it requires both personnel and budget to execute the office, whereas most other departments only require one or the other. But that’s also the beauty of our job. What other position exists where you get to spend money? I mean, millions of dollars? Mark Zuckerberg’s personal shopper, maybe? U.S. senator, yes?
With that spending power comes, yes, great responsibility.
“Successful marketing is as much about disciplined budget management as it is about effective communications and customer engagement campaigns,” Jane Rodmyre Payfer, chief marketing officer of Ergotron, explained to me. “Establishing trust with the CFO, building a relationship with him/her, will mitigate, if not eliminate, the commonly held belief that marketing is the black hole of discretionary spending for the company. “
Since the CFO controls the budget, the CFO has a lot of sway in the executive boardroom, especially with the CEO. So, getting the CFO to understand your needs and objectives can go a long way in getting the tools and dollars you need to be successful. In fact, some would argue that it’s the most important part of our job.
Editor’s note: Read Part 2 of “The Marketer’s Top C-Suite Ally,” where David shares five ways to connect with a CFO.