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4 Ways to Improve the CMO/CFO Relationship

The CMO has the power to make the relationship with the CFO not only a beneficial one but also a highly collaborative one. Doesn’t a hand-in-hand relationship at the office work better than being adversaries?

Here are 4 ways a CMO can work more effectively with a CFO:

1. Gain Financial Intelligence

The CMO/CFO relationship can only thrive if each party has trust in the other. To make this relationship work, take the first step: demonstrate an interest in the CFO’s goals and an understanding of key financial measures of success for your organization. If you haven’t done so yet, take a course in accounting or finance to gain the knowledge to work successfully alongside the CFO and speak his or her language.

Convey in words and actions that your goals are aligned and that financial measures are meaningful to you, and your financial counterpart will gain comfort with your role in the C-suite.

2. Frame Ideas in Terms of ROI

Perhaps it is stating the obvious to say that the CFO cares about the bottom line. Less obvious to some CMOs: the importance of presenting marketing strategies and programs in terms of how they will impact the bottom line. When seeking company investment, it’s imperative to include key performance metrics (KPIs) and to discuss how accomplishing these results will contribute to company goals. Treat company money as if it were your own. This will put you and the CFO on common ground.

3. Collaborate

Your CFO is on your team, even though it may not always feel that way. Think of it as a yin-yang relationship, or two sides of the same coin. The CMO delivers on customer-centric marketing strategies, while the CFO focuses on the financial impact of these marketing efforts. To gain his or her support, be inclusive. Share ideas and strategies with your CFO in early stages of development (and in later stages, of course). Invite him or her to relevant meetings. You’ll find that the CFO will reciprocate.

4. Be Transparent

Transparency is key to making the CMO/CFO relationship work. Create visibility into the plans and performance of your programs, whether through shared documents, weekly reports or quarterly reviews. Include detail: why is the media budget being spent in a particular channel or with a specific technology provider; or how the ROI differs for each channel. Instead of being barraged by questions, provide the keys for your CFO to access the answers.

When it comes to the CMO/CFO relationship, there can be a lot of strain due to different thought processes, communication styles and priorities. But with just a little work, the CMO can create a strong, collaborative finance-marketing relationship to give any company an edge.