Are CFOs from Mars, and CMOs from Venus? Part I - CFOs, CMOs both Benefit by Developing a Partnership

How credible and accountable is your marketing team? Many companies struggle with a significant credibility gap between the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and their marketing counterparts. And it’s usually the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or VP of Marketing who is seen as the initiator of questionable commitments or requestor for budget with indefensible return-on-investment (ROI) assumptions. Marketing spends money, lots of it. But what is this spending actually buying the company? And who is accountable for the results and being proactive in presenting them?

According to a study conducted by Korn Ferry, the average tenure of the CMO is the lowest of all C-Suite titles. “Today’s customer-centric CMO role is exceptionally complex and requires the right balance of left as well as right brain skills, and very importantly, a differentiated set of leadership competencies,” according to Caren Fleit, senior client partner at Korn Ferry. It can be very difficult to find talented people that have these skills. One of the cases sited for shorter tenures is lack of organization alignment on exactly what the CMO is accountable for. The rotating door doesn’t foster long-term relationships. Instead, what we see is cynicism, reservation, doubt and even sarcasm. The fact is there is an increasing urgency for marketers to demonstrate their worth as key members of the executive team. According to Forrester, 77 percent of global B2B marketing decision makers cite their use of data and analytics to guide marketing decisions as one of their department’s top five weaknesses.

It doesn’t need to be this way. In fact, it can’t be this way, especially in today’s digital age. Fortunately, while for many companies the credibility gap is real, there are many companies where this is not the case. That is, marketing has earned significant credibility and has helped their companies grow and grow significantly. To get there requires an organizational comprehension of what constitutes good marketing and how to execute and measure it.

Many CFOs haven’t been equipped with such an understanding. They haven’t witnessed it. It’s generally not a topic or class in their accounting and finance coursework. Many simply see marketing as period expense, a cost center. The next two parts of this paper will share some basic principles and ideas to equip the CFO with skills to better understand marketing and ask the right questions of their VPs of Marketing or CMOs. Skills that will improve communication, commitments, and ultimately, top-line financial performance.

The 2ndpart of this three part series, Are CFOs from Mars, and CMOs from Venus?, which covers mastering market fundamentals for CFOs will be available the week of July 13th.


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