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While marketers love to complain that finance doesn’t understand them, the onus is also on the marketing community to understand the objectives of the finance department, said Anne-Gaelle Gonet, head of procurement Asia at the British Council, in a panel at Campaign360 titled “The marketing and finance therapy session”.
Forecast accuracy is a critically important element in such discussions between the two groups, according to Gonet: that means marketers need to actually deliver the numbers they say they will. However, there are also problems with these numbers themselves: “The issue I have seen is that only 35% of people actually trust data,” said Gonet, referring to a statistic revealed in new research by Campaign and Kantar on ‘The Business of Marketing’. “You have a challenge — you need to convince these guys to unleash the money with data they probably don’t trust. I really hope the data and trust will improve in the future.”
“Not being sure of the metrics of measuring success makes the discussion [between finance and marketing] even more sensitive,” agreed her fellow panellist Dominique Touchaud, associate brand director, fabric care portfolio, greater China/APAC at P&G, who referred to the panel discussion as being “like marriage counselling” between the two sides. “I don’t know why we don’t understand each other because we have so many meetings!”
'Governance is underrated by a lot of agencies, and procurement can help with that' - @ShufenGoh_ talking to @robertsawatzky about the #marketing/finance conundrum #Campaign360 #advertising pic.twitter.com/SlXaz3a4LX— Faaez Samadi (@faaezsamadi) March 5, 2019
“Finance guys think marketing doesn’t understand their perspective and marketing says the same,” said Touchaud. “But once you understand the objectives, marketing becomes a tool to get to those objectives.” Touchaud references a former manager, who used to say: “‘I’m not paid in likes, we have to sell stuff.’ If we don’t sell stuff, it’s everyone’s problem.”
“It feels like we are always doing therapy for clients between finance and marketing,” concured Shufen Goh, principle and co-founder of R3. From her perspective, one of the problems feeding into this disconnect is that marketing doesn't always tell their story as well as they could. “Everyone understands sales… but there’s a layer of KPIs beneath sales that marketing is responsible for, that is not widely understood by CFOs. Perhaps marketing hasn’t done that good a job of explaining that.”
Goh also commented that the “wrong” measurements are often still being used in these discussions, which doesn’t help understanding. “A lot of our clients are still using a model developed in the days when a lot of the budget was going to TV... There’s no lack of will, but I think there’s a lack of creativity in how you use numbers to tell the story.”
Bringing the agency perspective was Kyoko Matsushita, APAC CEO at Essence. While she remembers issues between finance and marketing from her time brand-side (she worked at Sony and Gree before joining Essence), Matsushita says that more visibility — a slightly different beast to ‘transparency’ — is what they seek agency-side now. “Even if there’s transparency, visibility is not there when it comes to financials on the client side,” said Matsushita.