An Indecent Proposal - or how to get your way with Finance

  • Having put the relationship with Sales right, it is time to turn attention to Marketing’s other tormentor-in-chief, Finance.

    We all know that accountants are frustrated marketers. They are dying to have a close working relationship with us: not just on an intellectual level, but up close and personal with real physical contact. Finance might bang on about relevant metrics to demonstrate added value, but the real way to an FD’s heart is to consult him or her on advertising strategy or the need for a new logo. If all else fails, get naked.

    Maybe not, but it’s an entertaining thought.

    Tempting as it may be, there is no point in treating Finance as an alien race. The harsh truth is that financial management steers many boards away from pursuing a long term marketing strategy towards short term revenue generation and cost control. Marketers need a strategy of their own if they are going to get their way.

    In reality, accountants probably don’t want to get involved with the advertising message or logo, but there is good sense in involving Finance early in the planning process and getting them engaged with the strategy behind specific initiatives. Robust, jointly owned forecasts of future value and a willingness to review initiatives together will lead to Finance becoming an ally and business partner.

    And it is a partnership we need, for in the current climate, we need shared responsibility when faced with reduced profitability. Marketers must demonstrate good commercial and financial acumen, generating ideas that create financial value, not just creative satisfaction. For their part, the accountants need to recognise that short term sales are too blunt a measure of marketing ROI. Business growth is a long term, multi-dimensional strategy.

    As I said in a recent interview, requests for budgets need to be presented in ways that are aligned to the strategic goals of the business - an integrated strategy that builds the brand and moves prospects through a planned engagement process.

    If that fails, getting naked might still be an option, but let’s face it, high quality reporting, sharing of data and impartial analysis are likely to be a bigger turn-on for our bean counting buddies.

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