Dear CFO: An Open Letter About the CMO-CFO Relationship

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One outspoken marketer gets candid about communication breakdowns, budget worries, and viable solutions.

 

If you had the chance to voice your concerns as a marketer to your finance team, perhaps even your company CFO, what would you say? Would you talk budget concerns, lack of resources, department silos, maybe even some new ideas on how to improve communication between CMOs and CFOs.

I had a chance to connect with Matt Dopkiss, CEO and founder of Dynamit, a data, design, and technology company to try and find some solutions to some of these concerns as we head into 2015. In a candid Q&A interview, I realized that Matt had written a sort-of open letter to CFOs—and marketers—that could possibly help close the gap between these departments; a letter that, perhaps ,would even open a dialogue.

Here, in his own words, is his take on the challenges and potential solutions in the New Year.

The battle between marketing and finance is as old as business. When times are good, marketers secure budgets and march forward. And when times are bad, marketing budgets [I feel] get the first and deepest cuts.

“It doesn't make any sense,” marketers grouse. “If revenues are down, shouldn't we invest more in marketing?” And [in my opinion] they're right, of course. If businesses actually believed in their marketing investment, they'd double-down in the midst of a sales slump. But—too often—they don't.

Why? CFOs don't trust marketing ROI.

There are two major reasons that CFOs do not trust CMOs. First, marketing suffers from its own vernacular. Marketers talk about impressions, TRPs, sentiment and clicks. The problem for the CFO is simple—they listen and process, but they can't translate these ideas back to dollars. To the CFO's mind, these metrics have no value.

Second, marketing ROI calculations are not credible. Marketers report on ROI, citing returns and measurements that sound like fantasy to the serious-minded CFO. Marketers fail to justify the rigor of their ROI calculations. And, often, the CFO is right—these calculations are deeply flawed.

And so, the cycle continues. Businesses make investments, CFOs fail to understand the return, and marketing budgets get chopped.

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