Savvy b-to-b CMOs know that the CFO can be their most critical organizational ally. CEOs lean heavily on their CFOs to balance and optimize operational and financial business performance and position the company to investors. Accordingly, CFOs are often the CEO’s right hand and have a great deal of corporate longevity and broad influence over functional operations and budgets.
Many CEOs and CFOs see marketing as a cost center and slush fund with discretionary budget dollars that can be cut when necessary as performance and priorities change. Sound familiar? A strong CMO/CFO relationship mitigates this view.
CMOs must engage CFOs as a real business partner year-round – not just during planning and budget season. Establishing a solid relationship with the CFO will help the CMO redefine the perception of marketing from a cost center to a strategic investment and profit center, serving both leaders with more efficient and aligned corporate growth. To effectively engage and build a strong relationship with the CFO, CMOs should use the following five strategies:
Strong CMO/CFO relationships significantly benefit overall C-suite alignment. The CFO benefits through improved understanding of, and influence over, a key function that drives P&L growth, customer relationships, risk mitigation and corporate valuation – and the CMO can leverage the relationship to reposition the marketing function as a strategic investment and profit center driving meaningful contributions toward key corporate goals.
Alan Gonsenhauser is a Research Director of CMO and Marketing Executive Strategies at SiriusDecisions. He is passionate about accelerating growth, driving innovations and leading business transformations. At SiriusDecisions, he works closely with global chief marketing officers and sales and product leaders to drive positive organizational change and cross-functional alignment, benchmark against peers, and mobilize deployment of new marketing methods to accelerate innovation and growth. Follow Alan on Twitter @agonsenhauser.