Marketing: A CFO’s Perspective

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Ahh, my desk. I love being behind my desk crunching numbers, working on budgets, forecasts, and analytics. It’s safe, familiar, and my domain. I thought I had everything I needed to manage and help grow the business by making decisions based on financial charts, metrics and trends. Somehow, this wasn’t translating into a healthy pipeline or bottom line. I could not understand why, when we had a great product, a top sales team, and an internal marketing group in place. We’d allocated two-thirds of our sales/marketing budget to sales and one-third to marketing…what was I missing? One thing I know is that numbers don’t lie.

I started contacting some of my colleagues for advice on what they were doing to help drive meaningful growth in their own companies. In the process, a good friend asked, “Have you gotten out from behind your desk?” What? Why? He didn’t answer. Instead, he just challenged me to go out and network, not only with other CFOs, finance specialists, and accountants, but also with professionals in marketing and PR, and with business owners from different industries, as well.

Networking was a difficult one for me, definitely a daunting challenge, but I was up for a change. My first networking event felt like I was taking my first skydiving jump, but solo! I wished it had been tandem. After a few introductions and listening to elevator pitches, I realized that I had a lot to learn. There is so much more to growing a business than just having a good product or service, sales, and marketing. Needless to say, I fell in love with networking because of the “free” intelligence my peers and other business professionals were willing to impart.

Over the course of a year, I learned a few things that helped me better understand what is needed to successfully grow a business: a great product, and communication, communication, communication. You have to communicate to help “sell” your business. Success comes from making people want to know more about you and your company. You can have highly trained sales people, however, without the skills of a seasoned communications and marketing team to create informative and actionable content including blogs, videos, and articles to attract new customers, you will be restricting your sales team’s potential to perform at their best and achieve the company’s revenue goals.

Going back to my first love, budgets and spreadsheets, to have the best strategic communications team in place – notice I changed to “communications team” from marketing team – you’d need to hire additional staff to have all the necessary expertise in-house. A good content marketing strategy consumes a great deal of valuable resources. Every step of the process demands a specialized set of skills, from writing and editing, to PR and social media. The cost of hiring and continually training employees to keep up-to-date with rapidly changing social media platforms and market trends would eat away at the bottom line, big-time.

The best solution is to partner with a firm that has the skills and expertise in public relations, marketing, social media, and strategy planning, and which can bring different perspective and its own unique point of view to the table. A trusted partner company will leverage its external perspective into a foundation of credibility. Look for a firm that employs the best, brightest, and most experienced professionals in media relations, communications, and marketing, and that can help increase your organization’s business worth.

I called my good friend back to thank him for the challenge. I told him that I realized I stayed behind my desk not because I loved number crunching but because I was afraid of being a different breed – a CFO that embraces change and understands that numbers are only a small part of understanding the business. We need to get out from behind our desks to network, and to thoroughly know our teams, customers, suppliers, and other elements of the business.

Leave the marketing strategy to the experts. Your strategic communications partner will be there when you take the jump, and this time it will be tandem.