E-marketing insights
for B2B bankers from Vince DiPaolo
FPS | The Experts in Loyalty-Building Financial Communications
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June 2005
Tailor marketing efforts to grab CFOs’ attention

By now, we've all heard the term "customer-centric." It's perhaps the most critical attribute to successful B2B marketing. It means getting inside the heads of your target readers—knowing their needs, wants, challenges and priorities.

Let's do that now for today's CFO.

Big-picture focus

Due to new technologies and accounting software, CFOs are now free to focus on the bigger picture, the long-term bottom line. They now often find themselves in the role of second-in-command to the CEO. In order to fill this expanded role, the new CFO must have a greater comfort level with the emerging technologies that can make the responsibilities of accurate forecasting and strategic planning less daunting.

CFO Publishing Corp. has perceived this need, launching CFO IT, a new quarterly IT publication written specifically for financial executives.

Demographic make-up

According to surveyed CFO Magazine readers, the typical CFO is male (82%), 35-45 years old, holds a CPA and an MBA, and has risen through the ranks of finance departments.

In the same survey, CFOs said they most commonly purchase or authorize procurement for the following products and services:

  • Accounting/auditing
  • Budgeting and planning software
  • Performance management systems
  • 401(k) providers
  • Insurance
  • Risk management
  • Health group benefits
  • Technology services
  • Legal services
  • Outsourcing

How do you reach them?

Though authorized to make major purchasing decisions for their respective companies, studies have shown that typical CFOs are very unlikely to respond to traditional advertising of such products and services. In fact, they can feel bombarded by solicitations that miss the mark in addressing their priorities, such as clear data on managing assets, liabilities and risks.

In a recent interview with MarketingSherpa, a media company for marketers, Caroline Smith, Director of Marketing for CFO Magazine, says CFOs are thirsty for knowledge and that salespeople who are prepared and savvy enough to provide it will be the most likely to get their business.

Finding the pain

Ms. Smith says the top three issues that CFOs face today are compliance, communications and financial planning. Providing helpful information on topics like these can help you relieve the CFO's pain and gain his loyalty, she says.

CFOs want information on issues like risk management that affect their industry’s long-term financial success, she says. They also continue to look for better ways to communicate with and lead their business and financial teams. The salesperson who can deliver this kind of relevant information, in a concise and direct format, will be the most likely to get the attention of today’s CFOs and gain a shot at earning their business.

Keep it simple

Ms. Smith's research also indicates that CFOs want printed material with large fonts formatted for both easy reading and printability. Slick, four-color graphics and "splash campaigns" that may work in other arenas don't play well here.

CFOs are busy executives who will read informative materials in their off hours, often while traveling on planes and trains. Materials that are easy to forward by e-mail are particularly useful, as sharing information with colleagues via e-mail is also a common CFO practice, she advises.

Four solid marketing tactics

In its extensive report on how to successfully market to CFOs, MarketingSherpa also cites the following four tactics as being most effective:

  1. Executive reports and white papers. CFOs appreciate succinct reports and executive level research materials.
  2. Telephone communications. While cold calls aren't particularly effective, a phone call placed after sending such a report may be well received. This is, of course, providing that you know something about the targeted CFO, what issues his company may be facing, and how you can help solve his problems.
  3. E-mail communications. E-mail can work well if it's to the point, with easy-to-read copy that offers CFOs high-value information. Stick to the facts. If you provide what CFOs need, they'll pay attention and may buy from you. They don't wish to be "sold," however.
  4. Events. According to Ms. Smith, the same no frills, high-value approach should be taken when holding a successful CFO event. Use A-list speakers, preferably from research companies, and stick to topics that are top of mind.

Lastly, learn how to talk to a CFO in his language. To seek an insider's level of understanding, a couple books you might want to read are Finance for Dummies and The Portable MBA. Attending CFO association meetings is another good strategy for better understanding CFO challenges.

Some useful resources on the Web include:

 . . .
FPS regularly works with financial services companies to maximize the impact of their client communications, including e-mail and online communications. To find out how we can help you develop effective strategies for communicating with corporate financial executives, contact FPS President Vince DiPaolo at 847-501-4120 or [email protected]. You can also write him at the following address:


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