At the Cannes Lions a few months ago, Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar and CFO Sachin Mehra gave a joint talk on the CMO/CFO relationship called “Happy Tension.” Raja described the typical dynamic this way:
“It’s shocking that less than 40% of the finance people think that marketers can make sound commercial decisions, leaving the remaining 60% on the negative side.
“But this is reciprocal. Less than one-third of marketers feel that finance people understand marketing and they are making decisions based on knowledge.
“As a result, neither marketing guys know what the finance people do, nor the finance guys think that marketing people really know how to make proper decisions and hold themselves accountable.”
The CMO Council reported last week that only one in five CMOs described their relationships with CFOs as “collaborative.”
The same study found that of the rare CMOs that do have a collaborative marketing-finance partnership, 87% are satisfied in the ability to measure marketing performance.
I think that gets at some of the root cause of the disconnect. In talking about marketing performance, CMOs are from Mars and CFOs are from Venus. Too often, they don’t even speak the same language.
Recently the Digital and Marketing Association (DMA) reported some insights from how marketers described results for the more than 1,000 marketing campaigns submitted for DMA awards since 2017. The DMA found that marketers used a “bewildering” number of metrics — 170 in total — to measure effectiveness. The DMA categorized 41% of the submitted metrics as “vanity metrics” and only 6% as “business metrics.”
If even the marketers that make up the DMA struggle to make sense of how marketers describe the results of marketing campaigns, it’s easy to imagine the “bewilderment” of finance, when so few metrics used are “business metrics.”
Raja touched on this in the Cannes talk:
“Many times we don’t do our own diligence properly as marketers when we have been given the responsibility by the company, we have an accountability to demonstrate the results that we are driving. We need to connect the dots between marketing actions and business outcomes, not just in terms of marketing metrics, but we often don’t connect them because many times we don’t even care to measure.”
This creates an opportunity for marketers who can learn to speak the language of business, and help bring along the entire extended cross-functional team in the business.
Of all of the target audiences that marketers have to consider, some of the most valuable are other functions in the business itself.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: