A key behaviour of brands with a strong effectiveness culture is language and communication, and between marketing and finance in particular, research suggests.

Marketing consultant Fran Cassidy ran discussion groups and workshops in England and Scotland, across a variety of brands (global, local, commercial and not-for-profit) and interviewed finance directors, strategy directors, heads of effectiveness and heads of strategy agencies.

“What we found out is that the relationship between finance and marketing is changing. For many it has changed beyond recognition and for those where it hasn’t, it’s going to change,” she told a recent conference. (For more, read WARC’s report: Brands need to create a language of effectiveness.)

There are two reasons why CMOs need to take notice of this shift, she argued. First, most management research will tell you that better collaboration at the top delivers better performance.

Second, the finance function has significantly changed over the last three to five years, as automation takes over many of the lower-level processes – general accounting operations, cash, revenue management – leaving finance executives more engaged in driving performance rather than simply reporting it.

“And, of course, if you’re interested in business performance you’re interested in marketing effectiveness,” Cassidy said. “My belief is that the expertise and credibility and influence of marketers can be matched also by finance – and the combination can be transformational.”

But the only way marketers can really have a productive conversation with finance is by using common language. “If you can’t talk financial literacy you are irrelevant, you’re not influential,” she declared. “That terminology needs to be agreed within an organisation.”

But finance also need to understand the language of customer decision-making as well. The notion of the sales funnel, for example, can assist finance in understanding how marketing works. “But in many ways it does suggest a sort of conversion ratio, a linear decision process, that in reality isn’t how customers make decisions,” Cassidy noted.

She also observed that marketing finance people – those who are already in marketing teams and helping them putting their business plans together – could usefully become more involved in agency discussions.

“Not at every stage, obviously, but at some of the key points. And I would argue that they’re potentially more accessible than even some of the CMOs at doing that.”

Sourced from WARC