How to Get Buy-In from Upper Management
for Your Marketing Plan
Marketing and upper management speak different languages, often resulting in neither getting what they want.
Marketing typically focuses on brand awareness, generating quality leads for sales and retaining current clients. This is inarguably a bank marketer's job. So why is it that senior managers are so reluctant to embrace programs designed to accomplish these goals? Surveys of chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) indicate that Marketing presentations tend not to address the one thing senior executives care most about — quantifiable return on investment (ROI).
An extensive study conducted in 2012 by the Fournaise Marketing Group* revealed a major disconnect between the Marketing Department and a typical CEO. Here are some of the study's findings:
- CEOs do not have the level of trust and confidence in their Marketing Department that they do in their CFO.
- 80% of CEOs feel that marketers are disconnected from the financial realities of their organizations.
- To earn their trust, CEOs say, Marketing execs need to pay more attention to key sales metrics and provide a measurable correlation between Marketing spend and the resulting gross profit.
- Some 75% of CEOs believe marketers don't understand the true meaning of "results," "ROI" and "performance."
A 2011 study conducted by the CMO [Chief Marketing Officer] Council looked at what the CFO needs from Marketing. Since a CFO's primary job is to minimize the CEO's financial worries, it's no surprise that CFOs are looking to their Marketing team to provide a cost/benefit analysis for each Marketing initiative.
Since the CFO typically reviews Marketing plans before they are presented to other senior managers, industry experts suggest that Marketing execs include the CFO in the process of developing Marketing initiatives. Not only will such a strategy increase the CFO's buy-in to an initiative, it also can substantially increase Marketing's ability to employ in its plans the language of ROI and other financial concepts that is relevant to CEOs and other senior executives.
How to turn upper management into marketing advocates
A 2012 article posted on the Marketing Executives website, " 5 Steps to Align the Offices of the CMO and CFO**," suggests that Marketing execs view their corporate counterparts in Finance as key stakeholders in any Marketing plan. This mindset ultimately will help Marketing to be viewed as a revenue generator rather than a cost center. In addition, involving the Sales Department in the process of developing the Marketing plan is wise. This will help ensure that the plan highlights its impact on sales revenue so that CFOs can more easily comprehend how the Marketing plan can both increase sales and enable a Sales team to sell more efficiently. The article emphasizes that the CFO can either be a Marketing Department's advocate or adversary, depending on how much confidence the CFO has in the fiscal benefits of the proposal.
Here are the five steps the article recommends:
- Collaborate with Finance to plan
- Map Finance and Marketing speak
- Create a (or find your) Finance liaison
- Leverage the data expertise and data culture of Finance
- Start thinking like the CFO: revenue and profits
CMOs looking to a brighter future
While there remains a challenge for marketers to be recognized as an integral part of their organization's "A Team," the situation appears to be improving.
According to the CMO Council's 2012 "State of Marketing" report, released in December, 2013 is being coined "The Year Of The Marketer." Says Liz Miller, Vice President of Operations for the Council: "CMOs are gradually becoming strategic business planners and, as such, many are acquiring ‘a seat at the board' of their companies.
"Marketers are now a seasoned group," she says in the report. "They are battle-tested."
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*The 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, based on interviews with more than 1,200 large corporate CEOs worldwide, conducted by research firm the Fornaise Marketing Group and published by Voytech.com, July 2012.
**"5 Steps to Align the Offices of the CMO and CFO," CMO Council 2011 State of Marketing report.
***Marketing Effectively to the CFO, CFO Research Services
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