Some combinations just go together well as polar opposites. They are distinctly different from, yet often attract, one another. North and south, fire and ice, good and evil are all classic examples. Marketing and finance is another. Marketing is driven by passion and human nature. Its output equals its success. Its results are born of ideas. At the other end of the spectrum is finance; driven by calculation and procedure, with success measured against forecasts. Organizational and operational success; however, require both and therefore a relationship exists. Unfortunately that relationship is often thought to be one of dysfunction.
A Great Place for Opposites to Attract
When marketing and financial operations work more closely together, they are more understanding of each other’s purposes and needs. When they work in an integrated environment, at a point where their paths naturally cross, agility and results are improved. The marketing supply chain is that point. It is where budgets go from forecasts on paper to tangible marketing materials that drive the revenue that translates into bottom line results.
Much like marketing, finance and accounting means something different to every organization. Sometimes even more so as laws and regulations often dictate the financial and accounting functions and roles that must be present. Because every organization varies, we will explore finance roles in the marketing supply chain from a broad perspective.
The chief financial officers, chief accounting officers and chief auditors of the world – are not likely to be interested in the day-to-day functions of the marketing supply chain. They will be interested in the big picture and the overall results. Return on marketing investment is an area that seems to be getting more interest from today’s finance executives. Interest and visibility at this level are important as they demonstrate recognition of marketing’s move from cost center to driver of revenue. Metrics and KPIs that show outcomes directly tying marketing materials to increases in audience share and revenue are important points to communicate to finance executives.
Finance and Accounting Managers and Staff
There are many potential roles within finance and accounting beyond those considered to be in the C-suite. These are the people interested in the day-to-day touch points between finance and the marketing supply chain. Comptrollers, controllers, certified public and managerial accountants, auditors and bookkeepers all potentially interact with and contribute to an organization’s marketing supply chain. Because marketing supply chain spending is done with the intent of eventually driving revenue, the marketing supply chain actually impacts finance and accounting at both ends. Everything from accounts payable and tax accounting for freelancers to budget planning and annual audits are points of interface with the marketing supply chain for finance managers and their staff.
So Why Is There Often Such a Rift?
Even to the most analytic or strategic of marketers, the world of finance and accounting is likely to seem alien. An accountant and a brand manager may both understand the importance of, and even respect, each other’s work. However, dealing with the mechanics outside of one’s own zone of operations will almost always seem to be a hassle. Paying the bills, cutting the checks and keeping budgets in perpetual motion is pretty important to keeping the marketing supply chain machine up to speed. Without finance everything could grind to a halt. Organizations seeking to improve impact and results are wise to keep finance involved as part of the marketing supply chain.
The Right Involvement in the Right Amount at the Right Place
We already understand that an organization’s marketing supply chain can stretch far. It can also call for involvement from various roles at erratic times. One-size-fits-all solutions don’t work for keeping finance roles involved when and where they need to be. Project management software, purpose built for the marketing supply chain, provides what is needed to keep finance and accounting people involved in precisely the right amount and place.
Communication is vital. The more marketing and finance roles are connected, talking and sharing information; the more they come to understand each other. The more they understand each other, the less generalized interaction will be, leading to a more productive relationship.
Data is one of the ways that the gap between these roles can be bridged within the marketing supply chain. Remember the mention of finance execs looking at marketing efforts as the revenue drivers they are as opposed to the cost centers they have been? Data is the driving force behind it.
When the people involved in the marketing supply chain can see what is going on within it, the unfamiliar becomes less imposing and more understandable. Transparency leads to an understanding of all of the different processes, sharing of successes, shared accountability and increased efficiency in the future.
There is often no better way for any marketing operation to win hearts and minds within the organization than through efficiency and cost savings. If cuts need to be made and there is a choice of an operation that can demonstrate its level of voluntary efficiency and cost savings and one that can’t, which operation do you think will see the cuts?
The Marketing Supply Chain Field Guide continues in the next installment with a look at the sourcing roles found in many organizations’ marketing supply chains. Join us then and check back regularly for more.