Should the CFO Run Marketing?

TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 - Day 3Since Twitter put their CFO in charge of marketing this has been a hot topic. Some said it made sense, others said no way. Part of the issue is “what is marketing?” In a post last week, I noted this is a core issue for too many companies who allow marketing to be measured by something other than growing profitable revenue.

Twitter itself via its CFO, cum CMO, tried to explain it. And more recently a writer took the position that it made perfect sense since how marketing is managed today needs to change from even 10 or 15 years ago. Well just because Marketing has been mismanaged for a few decades doesn’t mean we need to turn it over to the CFO. Companies need to get back to understanding the true role of Marketing (as opposed to Marketing Communications).

He makes four points:

  1. It’s all about data. No it isn’t and data can be valuable if you can use it to find insights that you can move to action.
  2. Twitter is focused on performance marketing in 2015 because they don’t need to focus on brand building. They have a well-recognized brand. Great, but everybody should be focused on performance, and by that I mean profitable revenue growth. What else matters? Building your brand needs to create profitable revenue growth, unless you are trying to sell the company … soon.
  3. He claims it is the age of mar-tech. That is Marketing must understand the ROI of everything they do. Really, when was that not actually true? Ok, to be fair, if CMOs are not held accountable for ROI, they can ignore it. But whose fault is that?
  4. Breaking down silos is good. Agreed, but companies that combine Marketing and Sales under a single exec still had silo problems and found that great CMOs were rarely great CSOs and vice versa. So how, exactly is making the CFO the CMO going to help?

Bottom line, as we have noted in our book, Value Acceleration, Marketing (as we view it) is the real source of competitive advantage. Why make it someone’s “extra” job?


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