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Established 2009

Frustrated Marketers: Learn to Talk Like Your CFO

Marketers in charge of creating marketing plans, setting campaign budgets and executing on all of it certainly have good reason to feel frustrated at work on a regular basis.

From our experience as marketers – and as consultants who use data to support other marketers – we believe that three big sources of marketing frustration are:

1. Facing unnecessary difficulty in “selling” their marketing ideas internally to other company stakeholders.

2. Not knowing how and where to spend their marketing budget in a way that yields the best return on investment, leaving a nagging sense of uncertainty.

3. Being unsure about how to best track campaign effectiveness.

Our advice for overcoming these frustrations: to learn to talk like your CFO.

You see, any good CFO worth his or her salt is ultimately concerned with the bottom line. To do so, CFOs spend their time minimizing risk, freeing up capital for future investments, and keeping costs as low as possible.

As a marketer, you already know that your job goes well beyond thinking of a clever brand positioning strategy, creating a new logo, or putting together a viral video. You are increasingly being held accountable for your decisions in measurable ways. Just like a CFO. That is why it is helpful to learn to talk and think like a CFO. Rather than making ill-defined claims or opinions about your hopes for marketing success, the secret is to put numbers around everything. Why? Everybody likes numbers, and numbers are hard to argue with.

Whether you are trying to sell ideas internally, make marketing budget allocation decisions, or giving others reports on campaign effectiveness, try using the following types of CFO-inspired phrases the next time you reach out to others with your ideas:

“The expected return on investment for this campaign is 50%. We will have the actual ROI results in 3 weeks.”

“We are testing the effectiveness of this new marketing channel with a limited initial investment. Depending upon the results of this test, we will either kill it or expand it into more markets.”

“We have set up three new metrics that will allow us to track campaign success. The data for those metrics will give us the opportunity to decide whether to make a similar investment in the future.”

“The conversion rate for this campaign was 4.5%.”

“In order to reduce our risk, we are testing three different ad variations. We will later continue with further investment in the best-performing one.”

“Our campaign out-performed our target metric by 12%.”

“The numbers show that we had a 38% ROI on that campaign. We should do it again in the fall.”

“Based upon the assumptions stated below, we estimate the value of social media-driven visits to our site at $0.50/visit.”

The take-away is: by couching your marketing thinking and words in terms like “investment,” “risk,” “metrics,” and “numbers,” you are sure to win over far more internal supporters for your marketing ideas. The result? An estimated 250% decrease* in your daily levels of frustration.

* this statistic only an estimate; your results may vary

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