Will Chief Marketing Officers and CFOs Ever Get in Sync?

Though both sides says it's important to be allies, the relationship between CMO and CFO is often shaky.
Iris DorbianJuly 16, 2014
Will Chief Marketing Officers and CFOs Ever Get in Sync?

In the past few years companies have placed a greater priority on marketing, branding and marketplace positioning. As a result, the chief marketing officer (CMO) has assumed a role of elevated importance, one whose contributions are inextricably linked to the company’s bottom line.

What this means, according to an article on MarketingProfs.com, is that “CMOs, like any member of the C-suite, need allies and alignment to succeed.” Enter the CFO. Or not. CMOs and CFOS continue to eye each other warily.

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chief marketing officerIndeed, the overwhelming conclusion of a survey conducted this past spring by corporate trade firm Active International was that the CMO-CFO dynamic is viewed as significant by both parties but only to a certain point. The study found that a majority of CMOs (77 percent) and CFOs (76 percent) believe that being in sync with each other was “extremely important.” Yet, at the same time, only a minority of each group (45 percent) said that “misalignment” has some negative impact on the company’s success.

Two other notable findings:

  • Even if a CMO and CFO are similarly aligned when it comes to business goals and initiatives, a CFO’s words will invariably carry more weight than a CMO’s, said the study. Because of this, writes, MarketingProfs, “if CMOs want their agendas and priorities to be heard by CEOs, having CFOs on their side helps.” With CFOs remaining, on the average, longer in their jobs — 10 years — compared with CMOs, whose average tenure is 4 years, says MarketingProfs, “being in sync” with the CFO is key to achieving objectives.
  • CFOs think CMOs fail to link marketing campaigns to return on investment. The study shows that CFOs don’t have a lot of confidence in their marketing counterparts, with only a paltry 12 percent of CFOs saying that CMOs are “excellent in connecting marketing initiatives to ROI.” Twice as many CMOs say the same of their CFOs. “That is likely the result of marketing’s less quantifiable results,” notes MarketingProfs. “It can be difficult to measure a marketing program’s effectiveness in a meaningful way, especially quarterly.”

Image: Thinkstock

Source: What CMOs and CFOs Really Think About Working Together