The relationship between marketing and finance is arguably one of the most important within any business. Traditionally perceived as an adversarial tug of war between marketing on one side spending the money and finance on the other trying to save it, this relationship has evolved into a modern marriage of equals.
This new look relationship is being forged by closely working teams which possess a shared vision for the business and an appreciation of each other’s specialism.
Closeness very much starts with location and physically bringing marketing and finance together. At job search site Monster there is a dedicated finance partner for marketing who acts as an integral part of the marketing team, helping to add greater clarity from an ROI perspective.
“When I joined Monster one of the things they were struggling with a little bit was that the finance guys could see big costs going into marketing and they were not entirely sure how to quantify the return,” explains CMO Andrew Warner.
“One of the things I’ve found through my career is generally, if marketing build ROI models to prove the value of marketing in isolation, it’s always going to be treated with scepticism. There’s the risk it could sound like marketing saying ‘we’re doing a great job’ and finance saying ‘really?’ So then you end up in a them versus us situation.”
To correct this Monster created a cross-functional team to build the ROI model, with finance at the heart of the process. This was a valuable exercise as it helped finance contextualise the marketing team’s decisions and see them expressed in a data framework that related to the business.
You’re never going to win in a ‘them versus us’ situation, or ‘our numbers versus your numbers’. It’s a very unhealthy relationship to be in.
Andrew Warner, Monster
“Most CFOs want to grow the business and invest money in the right places, so if they can see that there is a tangible value there and understand how that value transpires it helps them make better decisions and they feel more comfortable in dealing with marketing spend,” says Warner.
UKTV went as far as bringing a member of the finance team into their latest media review in order to ensure every department was comfortable with the decision being taken and felt embedded in the process.
Not only did the finance person work through every pitch, she also had an equal voice when it came to choosing a media agency, the same as the director of media or marketing and creative.
“She gave really great insight, she asked great questions and she was a really useful person to have on the team,” recalls UKTV CMO, Zoe Clapp.
“Rather than us coming to finance blank with this list of ‘here’s what we want to do, give us a chunk of money’, finance had been all the way through the process and we found that really helpful. That made us come to a better and more rounded decision.”
Richard Podevin, segment director (EME) for personal care at the Energizer Group, agrees that bringing finance on board at the beginning of any project only helps to simplify the process.
“It makes the work more free and simple. The way I see it, a good finance manager is someone who will make our lives simpler and think about ways to simplify our projects, because the last thing we want is for the financial planning to be a hurdle.”
At Energizer, finance physically sits alongside sales and marketing, putting the team in a central position to support the other business functions. As well as collaborating on the annual budgets, Podevin’s team works with finance on ongoing budget management and the analysis of ROI.
“We work together on a daily and weekly basis. We have a monthly budget meeting where myself and my team meet with the finance managers to make sure that the purchase orders are raised as planned and the plan is circulated as agreed,” Podevin explains.
“I also have weekly cross-functional team meetings, which the finance manager attends, to ensure information is shared within the company.”
Forget ‘us versus them’
The outdated view that marketing and finance are pulling in different directions is something many progressive brands are actively seeking to shake off.
“If you’ve got an adversarial finance versus marketing relationship, and finance ultimately are the people who are reporting on the financial health of your organisation and driving decisions that determine where investment goes and where cuts get made, then marketing is going to struggle,” Warner acknowledges.
“You’re never going to win in a ‘them versus us’ situation, or ‘our numbers versus your numbers’. It’s a very unhealthy relationship to be in.”