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Yes, I believe marketers can be entrusted to measure their own effectiveness and efficiency. They are the best positioned to do so. Finance does not have clear visibility into or deep understanding of each marketing initiative, and all the different ways a marketer measures the performance of these initiatives. From cost per lead, cost per sale, to attend, click thru and open rates, and ultimately MROI, there is an infinite number of metrics that marketing is responsible for, keeping track of, and measuring. Finance’s interest lies in the balance sheet, the income statement, the financial health and growth of the business. Although close collaboration is needed between Marketing and Finance to establish the budget and manage marketing spend, I don’t think Finance needs to be involved with or would have the context to help measure marketing programs at the level marketing does.

Chris Kenton

I think marketers still have a hill to climb in gaining the credibility to regulate their own financial measures. It's not so much an issue of trustworthiness as it is training. Too many marketers still talk about ROI as if it's synonymous with "benefits of success", or misquote technical terms and metrics in ways that reduce their credibility with the CFO. Unfortunately, most business schools are not helping out in this regard, with some schools blocking the introduction of financial classes in the marketing department. I don't think this is a situation where marketers can bridge the gap just by sitting down for a heart-to-heart with the CFO. The CFO has all the leverage, and little incentive to cede ground to marketers, much less educate them. I think this is a situation where marketers need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, crack some financial books, and start getting savvy about the business finance fundamentals they need to compete for a handle on the purse strings.

One other point. I think the focus on ROI is important, but not sufficient for marketers to gain board room credibility. At the end of the day, the vast majority of metrics that marketers are learning today are internal metrics of efficiency. Streamlining your cost of acquisition is fantastic. But you can be incredibly efficient at winning the wrong customers and leading the company toward a major catastrophe. What financial measures do marketers have today, beyond just measuring last quarter's market share, that help steer the company's market approach?


Thanks, Chris. You have shared an important perspective and highlight a problem many CMOs face. In too many organizations the CFO and CMO (and CFO and Chief Sales Officer) have contentious relationships. I agree that executive officers of a company should have an understanding of financial principles as well as other aspects of a business. In fact, it’s interesting that many marketing conferences are now adding classes about finance (finance for the marketing executive). I also believe, though, that good, supportive relationships across the executive team enable each person to use their particular expertise to help their peers. I believe this collaborative approach is important to long term corporate success. The CFO should consider him/herself as a service to marketing just as marketing often serves sales. In fact, all the different functions of a company have a responsibility to each other. I know that this is not the culture at all companies. But the companies that are most fun to work at, and tend to have long term records of success, foster an environment of trust and shared goals. The "level 5" leadership that Jim Collins espouses and has researched has some relevance to this topic: http://www.jimcollins.com/

John Dawson

There is no way that a modern marketing team can ignore ROI in their agenda. However there’s also the question of education. Too many marketing teams want to forget the past or get onto the next big idea - be it a logo redesign or shooting of a new commercial – when planning a new campaign.

Time to get real - if your stated campaign objective is to raise awareness of a product or proposition, you better be sure that a significant link exists between awareness and sales (and I’ve seen strong analysis questioning this very point).

Personally I like the ideas of companies such as Toyota or Diagio who set aside a specific and significant portion of their marketing budgets for test & learn campaigns where they pay a small premium to ensure results are easily measurable. Cost / GRP shouldn't always be the mentality when purchasing media or mailshots. If an agency or marketing team isn't willing to be measured, i'd question their commitment to the organisation they should be representing…. And if the CxO and CMO aren't aligned, one has to fear for the organisation as a whole.

Todd Zielinski

I think in today's highly competitive, growth driven markets, if a CMO can not and/or does not have the know how to produce marketing ROI, than that individual will most like not have a position for the long run. I think it's just recently I red an article from Marketing Shepera that said the average CMO's tenure is around 24 months. If that research is accurate, than you have to assume that marketers are having a difficult time linking marketing's direct impact to the bottom line (sales). To me, that's where the core issue lies. Now my background is purely from the B2B side, so my comments cannot really speak to the marketing ROI of a B2C environment. So in my opinion, the highly impactful question is what to measure (not who-as I believe the CMO is responible for their spending activities) and how it correlates to the direct impact of your businesses sales revenue. When looking at the market (whether it be small, medium, enterprise accounts), their is a gap that exists between marketings direct impact on sales. I see the hesitation of many CMO's on what to spend and in what areas. And you can place your bet's that this hesitation stems not only from the marketing and sales departments, but from the highest executives in the company. So how can one provide a repeatable, sustainably marketing infrastructure (process) that has a direct impact on sales revenue which can me measured and improved according to business plan projections/initiatives? If a CMO can solve that constraint, they will make a lot money!

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