How to Make Your CFO Fall in Love With Marketing

By Ian Blake on 8 April 2015 at 16:44:00 BST


As we’ve touched on in other entries in our blog, convincing upper management the importance of marketing, and justifying various marketing methodologies with hard data, isn’t the most straight forward thing to accomplish. 

In many cases, marketers must augment their thinking entirely when pitching practices like search engine optimization (SEO) or inbound marketing to decision makers within their business. As convinced as you may be about a certain methodology’s value, it takes more than one marketer’s opinion to win management over.

Often, the toughest person to sway is a company’s CFO; the gatekeeper between the drawing board and fiscal reality. In the late 1800s, marketing pioneer and merchant John Wanamaker once remarked how he wasted half of his advertising (and marketing) budget, but didn’t know which half. 

Justification for marketing spend has always been a sensitive matter, which is why CFOs are naturally wary toward investing in new concepts; it’s difficult to trace a company’s marketing dollar, and even more so to generate reliable, tangible figures on ROI.

Marketing Methodologies with Clear ROI

At least, this was the case with traditional, outbound marketing efforts. New methodologies, born in the advent of the digital revolution we call the “Information Age,” make gauging actual ROI for marketing spend a reality. Automated marketing software, analytics tools and conversion data provide a clear mapping of the buyer’s journey, while backing up ROI with all the information a marketer needs to grow their business. 

With strategies like inbound marketing, the source of your company’s business is defined, as are the most effective elements in converting leads into customers. This is the value you should hit the hardest to make your company’s CFO fall head over heels in love with your new marketing direction. 

Metrics like cost-per-lead, close ratio and cost-per-click make it easier for marketers to support the ROI of their efforts, or what could be the ROI for their marketing dollar should the CFO approve of the investment.

It’s much harder, on the other hand, to discern exactly where your marketing dollar ends up with traditional marketing methodologies. In fact, sometimes it’s even difficult to measure returns themselves, as there’s no insight into the conversion process (you don’t know who accessed or saw what, how they responded or what they did to move forward with your business).

This information is central to inbound, and a large element of how it works as a marketing methodology. Buyer insights are inbound marketing’s strongest suit, and often the final straw in winning your CFO’s heart over to the true value of marketing. 

Evaluate Current Marketing Spending

When approaching your CFO with new marketing concepts or investments, use your existing spending to your advantage. What kinds of returns are you currently seeing for your marketing strategy, and how will the new methodologies you’re investigating improve these returns? 

Compare your current marketing metrics with industry standards for practice like inbound; standards your company could be achieving if the right marketing strategies were pursued. Highlight any particularly troubling metrics, like poor cost-per-lead or slow conversion rates, which could otherwise be corrected with inbound marketing or other strategies. 

To put things into perspective for your CFO, include key performance indicators (KPIs) primarily concerned with cost or ROI. For instance, consider bringing up how cost-per-lead via inbound marketing is over three times less than for outbound, for companies with 51-200 employees, or how B2B marketers can save over €20,000 annually by prioritizing inbound over outbound. 

When it comes to winning over CFOs for a particular marketing strategy, backing yourself up with tangible, real-world data is absolutely necessary. Pair this information with a focus on ROI, and clear tracking of your marketing dollar, and CFOs will be much more open to investing in holistic, inbound marketing strategies designed to generate business organically.