Whenever budgets are under scrutiny, marketing is one of the first items on the chopping block. Those conversations are more difficult when marketing and finance speak a different language.
One of the most important target audiences that marketers need to learn how to market to is their own CFO.
I’ve always liked the brand management school of marketing training because brand managers typically “own” a P&L. They don’t just manage a budget line item — they have to consider the full picture of what goes into building a brand. This P&L mindset not only helps puts marketing expenses in context, it can often unlock unexpected marketing ideas.
“Cutting steel is a media expense,” Method co-founder Eric Ryan used to say when I worked there.
He was referring to the expensive steel-cut custom bottle molds that Method invested in to produce the iconic shapes of their hand wash and cleaning bottles. Eric saw Method’s bottle shapes as a form of media — how people discover the Method brand.
Technically, method’s expensive molds fell under CapEx, but it helped to justify the expense to the CFO by understanding the marketing value of these expensive bottles. They helped distinguish from competitor brands sold in cheap stock bottles.
This P&L mindset flowed through the organization. It helped us see that all aspects of the P&L should be considered as part of the marketing mix. And show clearly how every marketing expense tied to the rest of the business.
It helped teach me that marketers needed to learn to speak the language of the rest of the organization. And vice versa.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: