Finance and Marketing Working Together

MASB Summer Summit 2015

MASB member companies are reporting a positive shift in the working relationship between marketing and finance departments.

“This is what MASB is really about,” said Rick Abens of Foresight ROI, who led a Marketing and Finance Pairs panel discussion at the August summit, “helping these two very different groups align on objectives.”

Travis Colvin, head of Marketing Supply Chain for Kimberly-Clark North America, related that change does not always happen uniformly: “In pockets of our organization, marketing and finance have a tremendous working relationship. In other parts of the organization, the relationship is much more challenged. And somewhere in between there’s a transactional partnership where both sides keep each other at arm’s length. The relationships between marketing and finance that seem to work the best are the ones where both parties recognize they need each other to achieve their desired outcomes.

According to Colvin, finance and marketing have to meet halfway. “Marketers bring tremendous value to the organization, which can be under appreciated by the finance community. On the other side, the finance community understands how and when investment decisions are made. Often times that insight is underutilized by the marketing community. Sustainable progress is made when both sides fully leverage the strengths of their counterparts.”

David Barclay, director of Quaker Foods Brand Finance at PepsiCo, said his company has gone from policing marketing budgets to collaborating with marketing. “I used to liken marketers to teenagers with their first credit cards. They’d start charging and they didn’t pay attention to the balance on their account. Our main focus was keeping the marketers on budget and not let them over or under spend.”

“Now there’s a much greater focus on the efficiency of spending, making sure we are spending as effectively as we can. We’re now starting to work with our marketing teams – the budget owners – to evaluate their annual plans and assess what they’re doing with those dollars and what return we expect to get.

Kerry Welsh, director of Global Marketing Analytics at Citi, said it was the recession that drove change at her company. “A couple years ago our Decision Analytics team said we can’t continue to look at brand health as our KPI [key performance indicator], we need a team that can monetize that return ad if you are looking to do the same thing, you should check out The Final Step here! Finance is now looking at every dollar against a certain threshold of return.”

It is recommended that businesses invest just as productively as working people invest in their futures for after they retire. Many people are investing money into all sorts of products and services such as Gold, Premium bonds or services from It is important that businesses also have easy access to a debt collection agency to ensure that any money they are owed is easily retrieved, allowing them to keep on top of their finances, and have no money being owed to them. Colvin also added that having a clear definition of ROI across the organization is super-critical. “ROI improvement through more informed decision-making is really what’s key, which involves much more than a focus on optimizing against a working vs. non-working investment target.”