Monthly Archives: June 2015

Your CFO and CMO Must Become “Bilingual”


Prominent proponents of diversity in the workplace acknowledge that the unique languages spoken within different professions (departments) can become more confusing and divisive than the differences between genders, generations, races and cultures. Maybe that is because gender, age, and race differences provide more visual cues for each of us to make the effort to understand what someone else is trying to tell us.

Some of the most volatile judgmental disagreements I have witnessed in my 40+ years as a business growth strategist have involved Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). During one strategy clarification assignment, I witnessed pretty much the same heated discussion in English, Mandarin, German, Japanese and Yiddish. The energy and anger was similar to when people of different religions argue. Maybe that’s the way to think about it. Marketing and Accounting are different religions.

Being able to discern emotional triggers and then actually craft messages that not only sparks attention but prompts action is better than any drug for enthusiastic marketing professionals. That is the currency of marketing. When that magic happens, they KNOW they deserve their company’s sustained support. In this world of hundreds of thousands of daily marketing messages, getting attention and prompting action is fragile. Nothing is more frustrating to marketing people than achieving what feels like a miracle and then their own company doesn’t support them and doesn’t promptly offer to finance more or pick up the speed. When marketing people have experienced that intense surprise, disappointment, discouragement and rejection they can sound unreasonable, distrustful, resentful, entitled, ungrateful, unrealistic and even selfish.

Please reread the previous paragraph. Let the emotion of the words in.

Marketing professionals are not all angry, demanding or unrealistic. Cooperative interaction with a respectful CFO can prevent all of that from ever developing. The proactive CFOs with whom I have had the distinct pleasure of working, recognize that at the core, CMOs and CFOs want the same things. You both want more market share, increased net profit, a more nimble organization and more cash. (Who doesn’t need more cash?)

The perceived difference between CMOs and CFOs often lies within the areas of CONTROL (budgets) and METRICS (measurement). Too often, CEOs and CFOs inadvertently hold the CMO accountable for increased REVENUE when that is the purview of the CHIEF SALES OFFICER (CSO). As a reminder, the sales department is the primary client of the marketing department. By sparking interest and prompting action (eg. inquiries), marketing delivers warm leads and qualified prospects to SALES who then do their magic to turn qualified prospects into buyers.

Over the past 6-7 years, many corporations have made great progress because their CFOs and CMOs have been asked to have regularly scheduled focused working sessions to establish or update the values of each warm lead and each qualified prospect. That effort is worth its weight in gold. As you know, that effort also requires patience and a willingness to translate marketing-ese and accountant-ese so you understand and appreciate one another.

And now that work must go even further due to shorter attention spans and higher expectations that shrink the duration of warm leads and qualified prospects. There is a much shorter window of opportunity to step up marketing to produce more warm leads and qualified prospects &/or keep them warm…and less time for sales to turn those leads/prospects into buyers. A value must also be assigned to pacing.

It is exciting when a corporation’s CFO and CMO can agree upon metrics that will trigger immediate increased investment when/if the marketing department achieves magic … sparks attention and prompts action…delivers enough warm leads and qualified prospects. The benefits go beyond increased net profit. The effort also pays off in increased job satisfaction and appreciation for one another’s professional colleagues.

Growth Strategy Tip


I sought her services to assist in overall strategy of my business, as well as marketing. I took the steps that Aldonna suggested and found them very helpful. I was highly satisfied with her services.

Terry Brock
Achievement Systems, Inc.

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