In the current “batten-down-the-hatches” COVID-19 environment, in which marketing investments are under greater scrutiny and marketers are held accountable to so much more, it’s time to focus on the relationship between marketing and finance. If you’re a marketer, you need to be aware, especially in today’s climate, that the ties between them are more important and intimate—and therefore subject to sudden change—than even you know.
Their cross-functional relationship is critical, though often overlooked, not only because finance holds the greater power, but also because CFOs continue to take on a much more strategic role in today’s organizations. That’s why the CFO is a highly influential ally for a marketer, one who can provide power, flexibility, and a stronger voice within an organization’s leadership. If the CFO sees marketing as a cost center, the result is likely to be cuts. In the other words, you need to have this person’s ear in a big way.
It’s the responsibility of marketers to bridge this gap and, in turn, learn the language of finance so as to take action to position their work as an investment, not an expense. In that spirit, here are seven important tips to help marketers close the gap with finance.
1. Prepare Budgets and Seek Financing
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is underestimating costs. A budget is more than just a plan to finance projects, it’s evidence for the client that you have a clear idea of how you will penetrate markets, promote the brand, and help the company close deals. So as you assess your branding tactics, story, strategy, and other needs, do a strong and clear cost-benefit analysis and always be entirely transparent with the client.
You should also think through just how to finance your plans. Clients love this because it takes the burden off them and reduces cost. One common way to finance is through loans, which are available for small and medium-sized businesses as a result of the recent CARES Act stimulus. And if you’re dealing with a huge budget that the business cannot provide, then you should consider a secured business loan for this venture.
In any event, it always helps to have an explanation ready for how every marketing campaign will either 1. bring in profit 2. pay for itself if it ends up not being profitable or 3. fund itself regardless of what happens. This will be music the ears of any CFO.
2. Offer the Best Rates
Regardless of whether you’re the best in the business, if you’re rates are too high you’ll get clients fleeing you even in sunny economic times. But when, say, a global pandemic hits and the market becomes volatile, what you’ll need is a negotiable, fluid rate range that will help clients stay lean while also maximizing their ROI. In other words, if you’re used to demanding high rates, get used to handing pricing power over to your clients, at least for a little while.
All this is a busy way of saying: offer the lowest rate you can. When there are sudden widespread price drops there can be an ugly race to the bottom across the board. To avoid this, keep your pricing private while being entirely transparent with clients when the time comes. You don’t want to give them all the power, but you will have to hand over a little if you want to remain working. Plus, they will appreciate your willingness to work with them in a time of panic and uncertainty.
3. Analyze to Determine Competitors and Target Markets
Check the market for major or sleeper competitors, do an overall analysis, and show this to your client as a motivator. If a competitor has dumped tons of discretionary budgeting into pricey marketing, it will definitely show. Clients will, therefore, recognize what they have to do to compete. But all this depends, first and foremost, on nailing the target market.
As a marketer, your job is to ensure the products and services reach the market and convert to sales. This means that you will determine the target market. Depending on the products you’re selling, different forms of segmentation will work for you.
Begin by identifying the current customer base of your client, then determine the characteristics that are common among various audiences. After this, you should go on to analyze your product and services based on the profiling of the customers.
Once you’ve done enough analysis and identified the major competitors, you can determine a new target market based on demographics and other considerations. Those brands that have strong audience crossover will be your competitors.
4. Build a Network
You should develop a network marketing strategy. of your own. And it should include, obviously, finance people like CFOs.
The truth is that in marketing, the wider your network the higher the chances of you selling a service. To do this you will not just need a network of potential clients but also of other influential or relevant industry players. You’ll never know when you need their services. And you’ll never know when having a good relationship with the CFO at Company X will help you with Company Z. At the end of the day, all you really want is people to say good things about you, your brand, and what you do.
Overall, network marketing works as a multilevel approach where you market to your direct network who in turn market to their own market, etc., and in it goes down the chain. In this regard, it’s important to understand the factors that can make someone to choose to market your product.
5. Differentiate Yourself
Another key tactic is product or service differentiation. CFOs like to know that the people or firms they hire are special, loyal, and absolutely necessary to their bottom line. You can show this by demonstrating that they will get your services exactly nowhere else. Of course, this is easier said than done and requires you to actually have a unique product or two, like a tokenized cryptocurrency fund or a solar energy infrastructure asset portfolio. Not in those markets? Don’t worry.
Uniqueness isn’t just a material affair. If you’re offering something like a traditional, conservative portfolio, then be honest about that but focus on your ineffable personal qualities, the things make your brand one in a million. Then demonstrate why these are important to the client’s welfare.
6. Make Use of Social Media
Especially today, every marketer should be sharpening their digital skills. Online markets have exploded and, as a result, there’s a need to demonstrate that you have considerable power, skill, and experience with digital tools and social platforms. If you lack this, consider taking a course in digital marketing. Focus on social media. Take time and learn the best way to set your profile and promote the right messages on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, and elsewhere. Also, be careful about the recommendations you make on platforms like LinkedIn, as potential clients definitely look at this stuff.
Social media is great because you can show from the start just how cost conscious and affordable you are. Promote your website and other features on there, of course, but always be aware that social media platforms will probably be the first place potential clients come in contact with you. Make it count—and make sure your profile contains a clear element regarding pricing and cost.
7. Build Trust with the Right People
The most important tip I have for you is that you should always build trust with your market. Building trust begins with a proper and consistent story that you use to brand your company. A brand story is the what, why, and how of your brand.
And one big part of a good brand is the ability to quickly resolve customer complaints whenever they arise. This builds trust among potential clients and, most importantly, ensures that you’re always transparent and in good relationships with existing clients. CFOs like this and tend prefer those who maintain good relationships with former clients. Business insurance protects you from the financial consequences of your business activities that could adversely affect these stakeholders.
Marketing is a tough job! It needs to be done using the best skills and the most thoughtful application fo planning and transparency. These few financial tips can go a long way to ensuring that you become a client-pleasing and popular firm that isn’t just looking after its own bottom line but the client’s as well.
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