Why CFOs Hate CMOs

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To get to the top of large companies, you have to be more than just good at what you do — you have to be good at organizational politics. And part of those politics is developing relationships across functional lines, and being tactful when functional conflicts arise.

Now that you know why I have never been, and could never be, a senior executive in a large organization, let’s move on to the more important point here: A senior exec in one function is usually loathe to admit publicly that a senior exec from anther function is a bozo.

So you won’t hear this publicly, but CFOs think CMOs are bozos.

Now, if you think that I don’t know that this is a generalization, and that it’s not true in every case, go back to reading your social media moron blogs. You don’t belong on this site.

There are probably a million reasons why CFOs think CMOs are bozos, but I can only come up with two (without exerting mental energy):

  1. It’s true.
  2. They have different sets of values.

CFOs are quantitative by nature, and they value quantitative precision. In the world of finance and accounting, things have to add up correctly. If you tell the world you did $1 million in sales this quarter, the transactions in your accounting system better add up to $1 million.

Quantitative precision is a foreign concept — or perhaps, an optional concept — for many CMOs, apparently.

At least that’s what I’m left to conclude based on a study reported in MarketingVox:

“A February 2012 survey of 329 marketing executives revealed that the majority had seen positive bottom line results from social media. Those executives whose companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a ROI nearly twice that reported by companies with a lesser engagement, of 7.7% vs. 3.9%.

The benefits were particularly strong in:

  • Improved marketing/sales effectiveness
  • Increased market share
  • Improved product/service quality
  • Improved brand/stock value

Almost 70% reported a spike in sales, from customers using social media to talk up the brands. This somewhat passive “brand advocate” approach fosters trust and credibility with prospective customers and consumers. Suppliers too act as brand advocates, and 67% of respondents agree that adds value to a brand. Finally, 54% believe that allowing employees to speak out attracts talent to the companies (consider the highly-visible Google and Microsoft blogs).

Still, the value is highly subjective and difficult to measure. Nearly half of those surveyed agree that an impediment to social media campaigns is the lack of standardized metrics for ROI. Facebook “likes” can be measured for quantity, but measuring brand lift from those likes is still elusive.”

My take: The lunacy of this is of epic proportions.

On one side of their mouths, bozo CMOs said that their organizations achieved 7.7% ROI from social media, and out of the other side of their mouths, admitted that “value is highly subjective and difficult to measure.”

Plain and simple, there’s no way that the ROI numbers reported here are accurate:

  • Did the survey define time frames for the ROI calculation?
  • Did the survey provide definitions for what costs to include and exclude for making the ROI calculation?
  • How, exactly, did the survey define “marketing effectiveness”?
  • How did the respondents define market share? Dollars? Volume? How was “market” defined?
  • What CMOs actually measure product/service quality?

Plain and simple, the CMOs who responded to the survey made shit up.

And that’s why CFOs hate CMOs. CFOs get fired — and can even go to jail — when they make shit up. CFOs resent that CMOs not only make shit up, but that they then get asked to present their bullshit at conferences in Las Vegas and DisneyWorld.

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