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How Finance Directors & Marketing Directors Should Work Together To Grow A Business

Post written by David Reid (Contributor)

There’s always been a fair bit of tension between the marketing team and the finance department.

Everyone assumes that finance directors just want to save money and all the marketing team wants to do is spend it. This can lead to some pretty intense meetings and a few strong-worded emails as both teams fight it out…

It’s like a boxing match with both sides believing they will win.

Typically, this means both sides lose.

Finance isn’t happy with the amount of money being spent – and marketing doesn’t think they’re getting enough.

But what if there was another way? A way in which both sides can win.

Collaboration between finance directors and marketing directors is vital for keeping both teams happy, and more importantly, to keep growing the business.


It has to come from the top down

Creating an understanding and alliance between marketing and finance will never happen unless the respective directors work together.

Finance and marketing directors should meet regularly to discuss budgets, give updates on projects, assess any changes and talk about future projects.

Seeing senior members getting on helps to foster a collaborative attitude between other team members. It would help if you reminded your teams that they are on the same side, the side of the business.


Put yourself in the other team’s shoes

Photo of finance directors shoes

It’s no wonder that finance and marketing don’t really get on.

Generally, finance roles tend to attract logical left-brained people who understand numbers and sums with defined quantities. While marketing roles typically attract right-brained people who do well with creative concepts and less defined results.

Though in these days, marketing people need to be left-brained too, as digital marketing success is much more reliant on being able to gather data, analyse the results and adapt for further success.

With two very different personality types, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal. But creating a shared understanding of what both teams are aiming for is crucial to a business’s success.

It’s key to get both teams to talk to each other, so as well as separate meetings between the directors, the teams should sit down together every month to talk through any issues and ensure that there is no confusion.

When it comes to generating an open dialogue between the teams, it helps to see things from the opposite perspective.

Marketing should help finance to see that their work is about long-term brand building and customer loyalty and that it doesn’t always equate to figures on a spreadsheet. Finance needs to show marketing their short-term quarterly targets and explain that they have to consider all business areas.

If the directors can get their teams talking and trying to understand each other’s aims, you open the way for true collaboration.


Everybody wins when finance and marketing work together

Once marketing and finance are on speaking terms (that alone is something to be celebrated), directors can start looking at how working together towards a shared goal will benefit the overall business.

The most immediate benefits for the company are a great team spirit and a friendlier office environment. When two teams aren’t at war over the budget, you can foster a good team spirit and also ensure everyone is on-board to help the business grow.

Photo of marketing team and finance team

Aside from a happier office, collaboration between the marketing team and the finance department can have positive results on a business’s revenue. When marketing and finance are on the same page, working to the same budget and fixed deadlines, it’s easier to see a return on investment and growth.

Let’s suppose the marketing director can learn from the finance director on how to examine and analyse marketing spend with a more critical focus on return on investment and direct financial results.

In such a case, they will be able to help finance understand where the money is going. If finance can see these results of the marketing activities, then they are more likely to increase the marketing budget willingly.

In fact, by collaborating with finance, marketing teams are often forced to think about long-term strategic plans in terms of direct business growth.

Finance may also give valuable insight into which areas of the business need more attention so that they can grow, or focus on the areas which generate constant revenue streams – this all helps the marketing team to focus their efforts.

This can result in new creative marketing strategies, and for finance, they can look at the longer-term health of the business and start thinking of marketing spend as necessary investment, rather than a frivolous waste of money.

This also creates an overlap between the customer’s needs, which marketing caters to, and the company’s needs, which finance has control over.

For the long-term sustained growth of a business, this overlap is key to ensuring consistent incoming revenue without overspending.


Collaborating for business success

Once you have marketing and finance working from the same page, the business can focus on more important things.

The time the finance team used to spend checking and disputing the marketing budget can be spent looking for areas that could benefit from a marketing push. Marketing can spend less time worrying about proving their campaigns to finance and more time coming up with creative new strategies.

Effective collaboration between both teams not only helps improve the business’s internal culture, it also helps future-proof the business.

With everyone working towards a common goal and aware of other aspects of the company, sustained growth is everyone’s aim.


Going to the pub helps

This is the important bit… It all starts with the marketing and finance directors.

Teams will follow their leaders, so if both directors are on good terms and are continuously communicating and sharing common goals, the others will follow.

A few trips to the pub together probably wouldn’t hurt either! (it’s ok, the finance director can put it on expenses).

Photo of marketing directors in the bar

Compromise is the key to making this working relationship a success. But just as every part of the business has to compromise sometimes, so should marketing and finance.

Keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight!

Just as business growth takes time, so does growing a professional relationship. The main thing is ensuring everyone is working towards the same goal – which is growing the business and safeguarding jobs.

If everyone is united in their goal, the methods of achieving it are negotiable.

Open dialogue, realistic expectations and leaders who set an example, are all critical factors in ensuring marketing and finance work together for the business’s success, rather than fighting like cat and dog.


Do you have the right people in the right seats?

As someone who has been involved in marketing for over 20 years and who has sat on the executive board of £multi-million companies – I know what it is like to fight with the finance director.

They never seem to have any budget available, except when it’s something they want to buy or the MD/CEO wants. There are times when I’ve looked at them thinking “you are strangling this business, we need to invest to grow”. And of course, in my mind, marketing should be considered an investment, not a cost (if done correctly).

So ask yourself, do you have a finance director in place who wants to grow your business? or do you have someone who counts every penny and is holding your business back.

Perhaps it’s time to seek the advice of an experienced FD who sees the future and not the past.

Likewise, and this is something I am passionate about, do you have the wrong marketing team in place. I’ve seen many businesses who promote someone from the admin team into a marketing manager or marketing director position and they are clueless.

Or perhaps you have recruited graduates (at a lower cost to save money) and you think they can do every form of marketing which will transform your business overnight. I’m sorry to say, but that rarely works. If anything it is a waste of time and money.

This might be the time to speak to a marketing director (external marketing agency or consultant) who has helped businesses grow from nothing to £100 million per annum turnovers.

I’ll leave you with that thought…


A favour

If you know someone or a company where their finance directors and marketing directors are at each other’s throats – do them a favour, share this post.

About David Reid (Contributor)

David is the CEO of a digital marketing agency and marketing training company. He is also a marketing expert witness for the Courts. David helps businesses by looking at new ways to use marketing to achieve growth and has helped 1-2 person start-ups grow to £100 million pa turnover.

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