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How to market to your CFO

The entrance to the British Library’s latest exhibition on writing is marked by three artefacts: an Egyptian figurine, a label for an Egyptian mummy, and a Mesopotamian clay object. All dates from 2000 years ago or more. And together the items articulate the three reasons why humans developed writing: communicating, naming things, and accounting. Yes, marketing and finance have long been bedfellows.

But they are uneasy partners. A Cranfield School of Management survey of FTSE top 500 FDs found that they saw marketing directors as “unaccountable, untouchable, slippery, and expensive.” And on the face of it, marketing and finance sit at opposite ends of the board table: one saves money and the other spends it.

That shouldn’t be the case as each function needs the other and a partnership is one of the most effective ways of improving efficiency and ROI.

How to improve the relationship? First, co-build an ROI model with the Finance team. This can help both teams to make better decisions addressing customer lifetime value, improving the rate of product adoption, reducing customer churn, and lowering acquisition cost.

Next, report on the outputs of marketing to your CFO on a regular basis. Not everything in marketing is measurable of course. Good marketers balance the long-term with the short-term. And if you create objectives for everything you stifle creativity, the bed-rock of marketing. I’m reminded here of the story of Bjarni Herjolfsson, a man from Oslo who is hardly now a household name. But he could have been. Bjarni was the man who almost discovered America. But he sailed on past it in 986. Despite the pleas of his crew. Why? Because his right objective was to reach Greenland. Objectives for everything stifle curiosity. But you do need some objectives and you do need them to be measurable and to report on them.

Third, equip your finance team with your marketing content, so they know the stories you are telling. Use the team as a further sales team. That way they get to understand the job that you are doing in marketing. Perhaps the finance team can also help create content and thought leadership too.

A recent EY survey suggested that CFOs thought that their collaboration with CMOs was improving. A recent Allocadia survey of CMOs also reported a growing connection with Finance. That’s all good news. We are all in this together after all.

Categories: b2b b2b marketing KPIs strategy

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Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across technology, and business services and professional services sectors.

Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is chair and co-founder of the Business Marketing Club ( - a network of B2B marketers. In 2019, he was named one of the top 100 B2B European marketing leaders ( He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at

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