CEOs can best achieve business success by harnessing the combined expertise and skills of the company’s C-suite. Yet, to move at a fast enough speed to keep up with the accelerating business environment, it is imperative that the entire team is on the same page – meaning that alignment within the C-suite is critical to a CEO’s success.
A recent survey from Active International, CMOs & CFOs: Collision or Collaboration, spotlights this issue as it relates to the CFO–CMO relationship. While 76 percent of CFOs and 77 percent of CMOs believe that alignment is highly or extremely important, only 45 percent of each group thinks that misalignment has a moderate or higher negative influence on their company’s financial results. Despite the latter perception, companies whose finance and marketing teams are in sync generally perform at a much higher level than those with disjointed efforts, according to the Marketing 2020 survey.
The survey also reveals that even when prioritizing areas in which they do align, the counterparts do not see eye to eye. Both indicate that they are most aligned when it comes to the overall direction of their business. However, it’s in the details where this alignment falls down. CFOs believe that they are most closely aligned with their CMO on financial priorities, while CMOs think they are most aligned with their CFO counterpart on business development initiatives.
And while different perspectives and ways of thinking between CFOs and CMOs can generate innovative ideas and solutions, extreme opposing views can prove detrimental to overall productivity and business growth.
How can CEOs support cooperative work between the CFO and CMO so that their strengths combine?
First, CEOs should encourage active communication between CFOs and CMOs to eliminate potential blind spots. Both positions deal heavily with finances – CFOs examine and manage them, while CMOs impact them – so sharing these details is vital.
Next, CEOs can help CFOs and CMOs find commonalities. The counterparts typically use different tools, methodologies and jargon on a daily basis. By encouraging CFOs and CMOs to integrate their approaches, or at the very least language, CEOs can create a more streamlined and efficient atmosphere.
Finally, CEOs should work with CFOs and CMOs to commit to long-term success. CFOs may have to report financial updates on a quarterly basis, which can be difficult if a CMO’s marketing initiative takes many months to deliver a substantial ROI. In these cases, CEOs can help identify shorter-term marketing successes for CFOs to report.
Alignment within a company’s C-suite can be the difference between a successful company and one that is merely getting by. It is crucial that CEOs work with CFOs and CMOs to create an atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork. While the resulting conversations may not be easy at first, they will likely be the means to a new and improved working relationship, workplace atmosphere and business performance.
Active International’s full report, CMOs & CFOs: Collision or Collaboration, which further details the survey’s findings, is available for download here:
About the Author
Jim Porçarelli brings 25 years of strategic marketing and advertising experience to Active. He is responsible for leading the company’s global strategic initiatives and chairs the Executive Leadership Team. Prior to joining the company in 2006, he was COO and Chief Client Officer at MediaCom (WPP). Jim won the Cable Advertising Bureau’s Ad Man of the Year for his work with Kraft Foods and was part of the core team that created MediaCom in the US, driving annual billings to $4.5 billion. Before MediaCom, he was Chief Media Officer at DMB&B (now Publicis), where he led a team in the development of global business including Anheuser Busch, Procter and Gamble, and Mars/Masterfoods. Jim also serves on several civic and not-for-profit boards.