Lies your CFO told you


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Have you ever heard these before?

1. Marketing spends money like a drunken sailor
2. When revenue gets tight, it is time to cut marketing
3. Customers would have bought anyway

I am sure that there are many more lies but these are three of the most common objections that Marketing faces from Finance, particularly from the CFO. How you counter these objections can make the difference between leading the charge or following behind cleaning up the waste.

1. Account for those pennies
The best way to show Finance that you are accountable is to be accountable. Track spending closely, and show Finance how you connect spending to results. Get them involved in how you measure your programs, before you actually do the measuring. And don’t, don’t overspend without permission – that is the best way to show Finance that you just don’t care.

2. Take control (with control groups, that is)
The only way to incontrovertably demonstrate the incrementality of your marketing programs is to set up random control groups beforehand. When you have finish your test program, you then compare the results to the results of the control group. Do not be surprise that some of the control group bought anyway – they always do. But the difference in percent of customers purchasing, combined with the increase in spending per transaction for your program group compared to the control group, will give you a hard ROI number that will withstand Finance scrutiny. Make sure to keep using control groups, even when you rollout the expanded program – you never know when Finance will ask that question again.

When you have proven that your programs drive incremental revenue, you have the magic bullet against random acts of budget cutting. All you have to say is that Finance can cut the marketing budget if they are ready to cut the revenue number as well. After all your programs represent ROI and incremental revenue, so any cuts in marketing will reduce profit – you cannot escape it.

3. Time is on your side
Track individual customer purchase history of time. Then show how the recent purchase changes the customer’s patterns from before. If you have segments in place, then show how program participants migrated from one segment to another, or moved from a low-value tier of a segment into a higher tier. Then study the customer for several months following the program, to demonstrate that the behavior the program caused was out of the ordinary for that customer.

Combine a pre-post analysis with the incrementality work from number 2, and you can demonstrate results your CFO can take to the bank.

But the battle isn’t over.

All the best efforts on your side will not stop Finance from taking “pot shots” at marketing. Even after you prove out your results. Change happens slowly. Don’t lose patience, but keep proving results, and bringing them forward before they are requested.

Then you will find additional responsibility and impact “lying” there for you to claim. :)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (, a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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