Aligning Finance and Marketing | Peter Mahoney

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This is a podcast episode titled, Aligning Finance and Marketing | Peter Mahoney. The summary for this episode is: <p>On this episode of Being Planful, Peter Mahoney, Founder and CEO of Plannuh, and podcast host Rowan Tonkin take a deep dive into the relationship between Marketing and Finance. What causes friction between these departments? How do we alleviate it? Tune in to hear their thoughts on how to get Finance and Marketing aligned, speaking the same language, and on track to becoming the strategic advisors to one-another that they were always meant to be.</p>
Finance and Marketing speak a different language
01:23 MIN
Raising marketing's financial IQ
00:47 MIN
Finance understanding the strategy
01:58 MIN
Understanding campaign level investment and return
00:55 MIN
What's causing friction?
01:26 MIN
Working side-to-side on plans
01:46 MIN

- Peter, welcome to Being Planful. Firstly, really great to introduce you to our FP&A audience, and for those that are listening, I'm joined here by Peter Mahoney, CEO of a company called Plannuh. He's author of The Next CMO, and we're gonna talk a lot of marketing financials today. So really pleased to welcome you to the show, Peter.
- I'm thrilled to be here, Rowan, and thrilled to be talking to some of my favorite audiences, my favorite friends in FP&A, who I've developed great relationships over the years as a coping mechanism, as a marketer. And actually by the way, this is a special dual purpose podcast, because we're recording on two sides, and we're releasing this as part of The Next CMO podcast too. So we will be doing the dual interviewing jujitsu over the next few minutes here, so I'm looking forward to that.
- Yeah, so if you get confused, I'm gonna be on the champion side of finance, and Peter's gonna be on the, he's also on Finance's team. And trust me, you'll learn this, but he's gonna represent the marketing audience, even though I'm the marketer. But Peter, you've run some really big marketing departments and that led you to found Plannuh, 'cause you saw a lot of the challenges around managing all of that kind of crazy budget, and really trying to tie, you know, strategy to execution through responsible kind of fiscal performance. Is that fair to say?
- That is, in fact, I spent the most meaningful part of my career from a marketing leadership perspective at about a $2 billion public software company called Nuance Communications. And it was interesting, Rowan, because I approached the CMO job there slightly differently from some others because I had spent the rest of my career at Nuance as a operating exec, as a general manager. So I was used to this mode of actually having to prove the value of things, and show my P&L, and my ROI, and things like that. And as a result, I developed a great relationship with their finance team, and a really great relationship, who's still a personal friend, and in fact, an investor in my company, with our former CFO, Tom Bowden, who was fantastic. And he was a great mentor to me, and really solidifying that CMO-CFO relationship, which I think was central to our ability to work together and optimize the performance of the function.
- That's awesome. And one thing, you know, for the audience of The Next CMO, I'll introduce myself, because we've just introduced Peter.
- I know, exactly. Who are you, Rowan? And who is Planful?
- Yeah, let's do that. So my name is Rowan Tonkin, I look after Marketing and Revenue Operations here at Planful. So Planful, is a, you know, we're the pioneer of cloud FP&A, so Financial Planning and Analysis. We're the application that your finance team would use to manage all of their planning, budgeting, forecasting, scenario management, cashflow forecasts, you know, all of those weird and wonderful use cases that finance sit there and do, and we're the application that really gets them off spreadsheets. And I know, Peter, that's what Plannuh does for marketers, right?
- Yeah, so you are the peanut butter to our jelly, is the way I like to think about it.
- Yeah, we have a really truly symbiotic relationship. Just by way of background, I've actually been a marketing technologist, sold into marketing as an organization for most of my career, and then I turned to the dark side, and became a marketer. And so now I'm learning all the lessons that I told everyone that they had to do, now I've got to actually do that job myself.
- That's great. And one of the things Rowan has done is really built an amazing brand. I mean, you actually drove the rebrand, right? Was that your baby? Or did you inherit the rebrand, and they brought you up, and they said, we need a fresh face for the fresh new brand.
- No.
- What was the order of operations?
- So on the second day of my tenure, we told the marketing team that we were doing a rebrand. The company, formerly known as Host Analytics, and Host Analytics, the two terms have changed a lot in the last 18 years, right? Hosting and analytics. And so we wanted a name that represented our audience, which are financial planners. And so if you ever Google the term "Planful", hopefully you'll find us. I know the team are doing a good job with that keyword, but additionally, you'll find that it means to be rich and plans to be methodical. And that's what we aspire for our audience, and we know that our audience aspire to be planful people.
- And I love the word, and I love the fact, I mean, having come from a company, and actually I rebranded, I renamed the company, Nuance. And I loved the idea of taking a real actually English word that had meaning that was related to what we're doing. We were a voice and AI company, so it was about sort of that human communication and the nuance of that. And Planful is really a great, great word, because not only is it evocative of what you do, but it really is something that is a aspirational kind of word for your audience, and ours too. And we like to think that we're helping marketers like you help their finance counterparts be planful and thoughtful of the way that they create a plan that's aligned to business objectives, and ultimately designed to deliver great outcomes for the business. 100%. So let's talk about some of that. You know, when we think about the relationship between finance and marketing, I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing finance counterparts. So I've not necessarily seen it myself, where I've been the recipient of that scorekeeper mentality from finance, that is a perception that exists out there. But when you talk to marketers and talk to finance, you sense some friction all the time. And I know both of our applications are designed to try and remove some of that, to kind of level the playing field for each other, and organize behind strategy. But during your time as a CMO, Peter, and now as you talk to marketers, what do you think the key reasons behind all of that sense of friction are?
- Yeah, there are a couple of things that drive that kind of friction, Rowan. There's one is language, and the other is really, purpose and objective. So the first thing is, just, they speak a different language. It's, you know, when you talk to marketing people, they use these crazy words that finance people don't always understand, and the same thing goes from the other direction, the marketing people don't understand what finance is saying. So they're often speaking past each other. So that's a challenge. And at a high level, if you think about it, they're trying to do the same thing in that they're both stewards of their functions trying to drive good business outcomes for the company. Marketing people look at it a little bit differently. Their job tends to be, to either create visibility or demand, or launch new products or things like that. But they're using resources, and the resources that they're using are applied at business objectives that they're trying to achieve. And part of the problem is that marketing people, again, they think, and they organize their information, and their work, and their data around sort of these broad themes and campaigns and activities, and finance people have to fit it into a different bucket. So part of the challenge that we see all the time is that finance people say, I'm managing this thing that's based on my chart of accounts, right? I got some departments, I've got some GLs, and I need to figure out how all of these add up into an overall operating plan, and how we operate, how it's working, what's hot, what's cold, et cetera. Marketing people don't even understand what those things are. They're looking at this saying, well, I don't care if it's GL676, or 428, and I don't care if I'm spending $100,000 on media versus $100,000 on a sponsorship. What I care about is there's a campaign, and I have an objective. And they feel like they're being crammed into this framework that is foreign to them. And I think that's one of the biggest fundamental things. And that sounded a little blamey to the finance people, by the way. I'll tell you the other side of this, the area where marketing people struggle. Marketing people don't, in general, have a strong enough financial IQ. And what they're not doing is thinking about the real business impact of what they're doing. So we really encourage marketing people to ask the, "to what end" question. So in other words, if you say, I'm doing this visibility campaign, well, to what end? I don't know, get visibility? No, there has to be a business purpose of that. To what end? I wanna get more people to come to my website. To what end? I want them to buy something. Aha, okay, we're starting to get there, right? You should be able to ultimately connect the things that you're doing, the activities you're doing to a financial outcome. And when you get marketing people to think like that, you get much better alignment, and reduce friction with their finance counterparts.
- 100%. You know, the multidimensional model that exists between cost center and campaign is one that, you know, it's really hard to plan against as a marketer, right? You don't ever think to plan against those cost centers because you're thinking campaigns, and tactics, and a tactic can often be a mix of costs. It could be a mix of print, it could be a mix of shipping, it could be a mix of gift and giveaways, and all of those end up as different line items in a cost center because finance wanna track it in that way, because we wanna track the expense timing differently, we wanna track when that expense should be booked against the business. And then additionally, what you really started leading into there was the fun conversation of attribution. And I don't wanna get into that now, but the "to what end" question is really important for finance to understand the strategy that marketing is trying to employ, because as much as we would love it, and every fellow Head of Marketing that I've ever talked to, we all want perfect attribution. It's not gonna exist. And finance want perfect attribution because they, you know, we live in the world of ROI, what did that return? So we've got to look at it in aggregate, and that's hard. That's hard for people to understand because they wanna understand at the line item level, what did it produce? Like we can look at line item production of the sales rep, or of a BDR, but you can't look at line item level production of marketing expense. And that's really difficult oftentimes for finance folks to literally give an organization a million dollars, $10 million, maybe a Superbowl ad level of spend and say, I don't know what we're gonna get out of this. That's a hard thing to do.
- It is. And the trick is finding the right altitude for measurement. So part of the struggle is marketers tend to measure things either at the 100,000 foot level, or the 100 millimeter level. And they need to find that middle ground. So 100,000 foot, they might say, well, my CAC payback is this. So that's really a great, it's a really important metric to understand your customer acquisition cost, but it tends to be a rear view mirror. What was it over time that it costs me to acquire those customers? And so it's a big aggregation thing, which is one way to sort of resolve some of the complexity. On the other end, you hear things like, well, how many downloads for that white paper? Or how many clicks for that thing? And the point is, there's a place in the middle that's really, really important for marketing people to understand, and it's at the campaign level. And so if they can understand campaign level investment, and campaign level return, then you can actually build, one, coherence into the plan because it's understandable, it becomes 20 chunks, and not 20,000. And then, two, it's more possible to create a much more accurate view of return on investment. And then the issue isn't how you define a campaign, and the problem that we have in the marketing technology space, and I know you did time there Rowan, so I'll blame you for some of it, is that marketing technology people sort of wrecked the definition of the word "campaign". In a campaign should be a strategic, thematically aligned set of initiatives that are designed to achieve a business result. What that means is that it is something that's gonna last for some period of time, it is comprehensive in nature, it's aligned in theme, it's not send an email. And of course, if you go inside the AdWords interface, or go inside HubSpot or Salesforce, they call that a campaign. It's not, it's a tactic. So people have sort of lost the thread on what a campaign is. And if you can get agreement internally on what a campaign is, and then aggregate again, all of the, aggregate all of the performance related, what are the outcomes at that level? And then really importantly for our finance counterparts, be able to measure what you really completely spent on that campaign, organized by that way, you mash those things together, and all of a sudden you can get campaign level ROI in a pretty accurate way.
- Yeah, and I think attribution tools have ruined a little bit of the fun too, you know, because we can get such granular level views that are in some ways, very confusing for people that have never interacted with them before. And so everyone is expecting perfect attribution. And to your point, the higher up the altitude we go, you know, it's not that important to know at the street, number box, letterbox number level, right? But you probably need to know at a zip code level, right, how things are performing. Zip code level is probably important, but street level, house number level, you know, room inside the house level, it's not that important most of the time, and you're actually running down a fool's errand as a marketer, if you're thinking that way. And for the finance folks listening, try not to push for that level either because the more that you push there, the more that you're going to suffer from analysis paralysis from the marketing team, and they're gonna struggle to give you the answer. They'll eventually get you an answer, but it won't be indicative of anything. It won't prove anything except that we magically got to a number.
- Yeah, exactly. And the trick is of course, finding the right way to organize your financial view in a flexible enough way, and that's why companies like Planful, and companies like Plannuh exist, of course, is to help people manage and render that information in a flexible way so that you can actually measure it at the campaign level. 'Cause the issue is that the tools that most financial professionals have are based on their chart of accounts and their standard way their books work. And if you try to cram everything into that model, it just doesn't work. And that's what causes some of the friction between the two. I did wanna bring up one other thing too, Rowan, that you mentioned a minute ago, which is a really big challenge between marketers. And I don't know how much finance people know that this is an issue with marketing people, and it's the idea of timing. So timing in accrual of expenses and recording them in the right fiscal period is something that most marketing people struggle with. And I can't tell you how often we have to educate our marketing users about the idea of, well you know, you actually have to spread that cost for that over the period where the benefit is derived. And if you prepay for that trade show, but the trade show is three months from now, that it'll actually hit that financial period, and you'll have these accruals and reversals. They don't understand it. And it's one of the things that, one of the things that causes a lot of friction with marketing and finance people, because marketing people will say, this is the money I think I spent and finance says No, the reports don't match up the same way. You spent something different. And there's this fundamental thing where I think every finance and accounting person on the planet knows the basic rules of accounting, but a lot of marketing people don't, and they don't understand, especially the concept of timing, and it's a real issue for them.
- Marketers tend to think of it more as a cashflow forecast. They tend to think of their budget as something that is timed on when the money is either spent or invoiced. And that's just because we've never had any of this finance training. So we think about it as our own real world, which is, oh, I paid for this event in this period, therefore I will record that event in this period because I'm thinking of my cashflow.
- Yeah, and of course, if you are in a early stage software company, or something like we are, we care about cash, so obviously cashflow is an important factor. But as you get a little bit bigger, and you need to actually make sure there's a a view of how you match to the actual accounting, then there's a real challenge for people, and that they really get stuck by that. So if you were to say, what could marketing people do, in your mind, to do a better job, to relate to, communicate with, work with their finance counterparts, what are the kinds of things they should think about?
- So it would be understanding what the business sentiment is around that incurred expense. So let's take an event, you know, we do here at Planful, we do an annual event, and we pay for some things well ahead of time, right? Six months ahead of time in some instances. And so getting that alignment on a couple of things. So firstly, if I generate any revenue from the event, is that gonna detract from my budget? Do I get to keep that profit? Or is that going somewhere else in the business? That's a key question you should be asking yourself if you generate revenue for many of your marketing activity, like an event, figure that out. I've been at organizations where it doesn't come back into the marketing budget, and I've been at some organizations where it does, and that's great. The other thing is, understand where the business, where finance needs you to incur that cost, because for a significant event, like an annual user conference, you wanna show the aggregate spend of that event in the period the event happens, so that it's consistent over time, because if you move the event, you wanna be able to show that that significant change to a board member, to an investor, to the street, has shifted from Q1 to Q4 or something like that, and they see the total cost of that expense move. Whereas if you're moving all the different individual line items, like, you know, buying the swag, which happens, you know, six months before, buying all of these things. So just level set with your finance team on what the expert, well, the marketers should be asking finance, how are we being measured in our expenditure? Right? How should we be thinking about that? The other question that you should ask your finance team is, one, around payment terms. Especially right now, it's a hot topic for finance folks, and I'm sure your finance team have probably told you that you need to move from, you know, net 15, to net 30, if not net 60, right? Cash is king right now, and they've probably told you, but understand the context. Understand why, because you'll need to relay that to your vendors, and you know, negotiate on behalf of finance. So if you get a directive from finance, use the simple question, help me understand why that is, right? And finance will generally take the time to explain it to you.
- Makes total sense. And by the way, Rowan, have you ever seen the movie "Being There", with Peter Sellers? And the concept of the movie is that there's this guy who's a, a guy who's lived in this giant house his whole life as a butler, and he's sort of the simpleton, but he says these very basic kind of things, these kind of platitudinous things, and everyone thinks he's a genius. That's kind of the way I roll. So I'm gonna say some very platitudinous things that are probably obvious to everyone, but I think they need to be said. So when you look at, in my mind, if you look at the most important kind of connection and alignment between finance and marketing people, it really starts with your goals. So what are we trying to achieve? And getting alignment between those expectations, between the marketing leader and the finance leader. So what's important for the company? And then what is my piece of that that I'm trying to do to help deliver on that company objective? So obviously, for most companies, growth, you either care about growth, or you care about cutting costs, right? There's other thing, right? So there's some overriding things. If you wanna, you know, grow increasing value over time, you gotta get better and better at doing things cheaper, or you gotta grow, or you have to do both. So how are you doing that? What's your role as a marketer? And then what's your role as a finance professional to facilitate that? And part of it is, one, if you can get alignment around that, what are you trying to do? And then what are the activities that you're building that are helping move the business forward to achieve those goals? So for marketing, maybe it's a leading indicator, like I'm building demand that's gonna turn into revenue. Okay, well how much? How does that relate to what our targets are, as an example. Pretty handy to know. And then, what's your expectation? What's the plan to get there? 'Cause we wanna be planful, to keep branding the name of this podcast, we wanna be planful to make sure we understand if we put together this series of steps, so that our underlying activities actually add up to the outcomes that we're planning to do, and then are the investments that we're making, in line with the outcomes that we're expecting to achieve? So if you can get alignment around that stuff, I think everyone is much happier. And even if it's a, even if it's not the number the finance team wants, if they say that, okay, you spent $5 million last year on marketing, and we need you to do it the same thing for next year. And you'd go, okay, well, if you can explain to the finance counterpart that the productive spend that we have, the stuff focused on campaigns, out of that five was maybe three. And of the $3 million, we got, you know, 30,000 leads. Which means that if I did my math correctly, it costs me $100 a lead to generate that, right? If all of a sudden you're saying, I need to do it for four, I need to cut it out of the demand. So all of a sudden I need to get like a 50% increase in the performance of my marketing, which is unrealistic. But you gotta bring them to the logic chain so that they can understand that there is actually a coherent plan, it's grounded in logic, and I think that's where people get stuck, because the finance people will often think, well, they're just doing some magic over there, and making T-shirts, and doing some website stuff. And the marketing people are saying, nah, they're going over there and working some spreadsheets and crunching some numbers. So you have to come together and just explain what you're doing, and explain the logic. And once you get people together, and help them understand what you're doing, I think people will get, will be doing a much better job when it comes to seeing eye to eye.
- I think, you know, from my experience, Peter, you have to build the model together. You have to sit down and build that, either it's a reverse waterfall model, or it's a production run rate model, which says, I'm gonna spend this, there's a lag effect, it's gonna turn into this over time. And for the finance people, it's not perfect. It never will be perfect. It's a model, models are never perfect. But if finance and marketing don't sit in the room together and create that shared model of, here's how we back into the number, here's how we get to this number, these are the realistic expectations, then, you know, the first question I asked you today, Peter, was, you know, how do we get so much friction? There it is right there, because the alignment to the goals and the method to which we get to the goals are completely non-transparent to both parties involved. So it's really important for finance people to dig deep into marketing's model because I can tell you, there's plenty of marketers out there that are not the creative types. They're just as numbers driven as you. Peter calls them in the book, I think you call them the scientists. Is that right, Peter?
- Yeah, yeah. So we actually encourage, I've got this philosophy that says that marketers should be more like scientists than promoters. And what we mean by that is that, what you should be doing as a marketer, or in business in general, right, what you need to do is think about, the way a scientist thinks is they develop a thesis, and then they design some experiments to test that thesis, and they run the experiments, look at the data, and they decide whether they were correct or not. So in other words, you might say, oh, my thesis is that if I spend money on this kind of activity, it's gonna generate leads that look like this. Great. Well let's build an experiment, and test it, and measure it. And some marketers are so focused on promoting, that they wanna say, look what I did, it's good. And they wanna sort of bend the data to prove that it was good. And the reality is it might be bad, but that's okay. It's okay if you design an experiment to understand if this particular activity will work for you, and once you've run that experiment, you've learned something from it. And maybe you can tweak a variable and try something different, but the point is that what marketers need to do more of is run experiments, measure them, show the numbers, and be honest with the numbers, and you have to have a culture though that doesn't punish people for communicating bad numbers. As long as they're done in a way that said, I'm running an experiment, we're gonna try this, we're gonna measure it, and we're gonna tell you what the result is, and we're gonna learn from it and see if this is a valid thing. So let me give you a specific example. When I was at Nuance, we had a direct consumer part of our business, and it was a great growth engine for the company in some ways, because fast decisions, you could quickly create revenue. And we had an idea that said, this was way 10 years ago, we said, hey, what if we did those kind of mall kiosks, right? Like Sharper Image does, or whatever you call those guys who do little things in a mall where you do a demo of stuff. What if we did that? That might work. That combined with some advertising. And we put together an experiment, and the CFO was a great partner. He said, yeah, let's do this. This is the way we model it. So we ended up spending a couple of million dollars on this. It was terrible. It did not work at all. And there are a whole bunch of reasons why it didn't work, but we tried, there was a thesis behind it, and we ran the experiment, and then we were honest with ourselves. So no, this didn't work. But you know what? These other things still do work. And it was the culture we had, by the way, people were still mad because we spent a couple million bucks on that thing. But in the end, the culture was that, we're gonna run an experiment, we're gonna be truthful with the results, and we learned something from it. We learned that because marketers are always looking for new levers that they can pull to drive growth. That's one of the things that gets marketing people really excited, and it's why most marketers don't do this but should, they should have a piece of their budget that's experimental. They should have, and it's a little vaccine for the finance professionals out there who say, nope, everything's gotta fit in a box. Everything's gotta tie out and be nicey nice. The reality is, what you should do, is you should have some, maybe it's five or 10% of your budget that is purely experiments. You should always be testing and trying new things that can help you to find the next opportunity for growth. And if it works, do more. And if not, that's okay because you know that that's not the right thing. But those kinds of investments are really critical to be able to actually find new sources for growth for a company.
- And let's be clear because I think this is a really good example, Peter, of what we talked about at the start of the podcast, which was alignment on terminology. What you're talking about with experiments is not optimization of existing tactics, like AB testing, experimenting between, you know, a little tactic mix between paid social and paid digital. What Peter's talking about is a campaign level experiment, and being comfortable with five to 10% of our budget being available to do campaign level experimentation, because it's really important, and finance people do know this, that marketers are consistently optimizing and trying to find incremental improvements in the tactic mix, whether that be, you know, on digital channels or, you know, testing a new offer in direct mail, or testing something else in some branding exercises, always testing. But that's different than an experiment. And really important to think through that when you're talking, A, marketers, when you're talking to finance folks, you need to communicate that. You know, this is an optimization versus an experiment. What do we mean by the two? These are the things that we mean. And because if we don't articulate that, at the end of the initiative, that's where you get the marketer, the promoter that Peter is, the analogy for me there is, you know, a restaurant that asks you to judge them only on their dessert. Everything else was terrible, but the last thing, the dessert, the dessert was fantastic. That's gonna overcome the really terrible service, the really terrible cocktail, the crappy entree. You need to judge everything by the sum of all the parts, and that's what the scientist marketer does, but they also say, hey, that cocktail we made, that was a bit of an experiment. Was it any good? Turns out it was or it wasn't.
- Yeah, it doesn't mean that it's a whole bad experience. That's one thing. So the thing that you mentioned a minute ago, Rowan, I think was really, really thoughtful. The idea that marketers and finance professionals should be working side to side on their plans. And I think that that's probably an area of development for both sides of the fence here is just working together in a different way and not falling into that, we're gonna throw it over the wall mentality. And I know that in when I was running a bigger market in an organization, what we did that worked really well is I included our finance business partner as part of the core CMO staff. And it was just part of what we did. And it was an investment in educating her to make sure she was always up to speed with what we were doing, why we were doing it, when things didn't work. And she became a great advocate for us through the finance organization, because she knew it demystified everything. It wasn't like, oh, they're doing some crazy thing. They want this money to do something that no one's ever thought of before, or hasn't had any rigorous analysis. She knew that it's something we've been thinking about, and working on, and testing, and measuring, and things like that. And on the same side, she could bring to us an appreciation for what the finance professionals were trying to do from a plan perspective, from a long-term strategic planning perspective, what was important to them, what were the financial goals that the company had that we could support as far as driving efficiency in our long-term operating model, in that kind of two way relationship, and really embedding in each other's teams was really important to drive a better communication and relationship between the teams.
- That's fundamental, and not every finance team has the pleasure of having enough business partners to go around in that kind of way, Peter. But the thing that when you can do that, firstly, you need to start from a place of positive intent, right? You can't start that conversation from mistrust, which I think finance and marketing, and the perception of finance in many organizations is from a place of score-keeping mentality and that creates distrust. What if I share too much with finance and they slapped me over the hands? So for the finance folks, we want that level of help. We didn't study financial finance, we didn't study economics most of the time. Some great marketers have but a lot of marketers haven't got that experience, and so they need the help, but they're starting from a place of mistrust. And so you have to build that trust. And the only way to do that is to earn it, and spend time with the team, and hopefully you get that seat at the table, and CMOs are willing to do that because it does create that harmonious relationship. And you can then influence organizations, whether it's marketing, or whether it's sales, or whether it's, you know, an operations team with those fiscal guardrails that Peter was talking about, right? Like some organizations might have, you know, positive EBITDA goals and other people may not. And so those fiscal guardrails are really important in terms of how the business spends its money over time. And you can shape that narrative over the course of a quarter, a year, or multi-year periods.
- Absolutely. And it's interesting that you mentioned that around what the profitability goals are, as an example. So sometimes the marketing team doesn't understand that. They don't understand that the long-term, sort of investor relations view of the company, is you're either gonna look at it as, hey, this is a long-term growth opportunity, or maybe it is a operational efficiency model where you're gonna continue to refine it, or some combination of those things. And understanding what's the overall strategy driving the business from a financial perspective, it's really helpful for the marketing team to understand that so they know they need to continue to be more efficient over time. And it's funny, this at one point in my career really hit me because I realized that at one point that, oh, I can't expect to grow my marketing investments in line with revenue growth exactly. Because at some point, we have to actually show that we can do it more efficiently. And it kind of hit me and I thought, oh great, we're gonna grow 30% next year. That means I'm gonna get 30% more to spend in marketing. That's not especially the case. And the reason is, that maybe we were forward investing to drive that growth, and then at some point, you need to start to migrate toward the perpetual model for the business that you're getting to over time, which means you're gonna have to find what's the trajectory of that curve of spending that you're going on. And communicating that to the marketing team is really important because sometimes, I know personally, especially early on in my career, I just didn't understand. I didn't know that that was important. I wasn't thinking strategically enough. So communicating that to the teams is really important so they get what's going on. And just like the marketing people need to communicate to the finance team and say, this is why it's important, what we're doing, this is the purpose, the finance team needs to communicate strategically from a financial perspective. This is why the company is doing these things, this is why this is important. And then I think you'll find that their counterparts in marketing will get on board.
- So Peter, we're coming up to the top of the hour here, and I think we've covered a lot of great topics. I wanna ask you one final question for the finance listeners. What's one thing, and you may have covered a few of them on this call, but the one thing that you wish finance people knew about marketing.
- One thing that finance people think about marketing. I think they should understand that marketers think in campaigns, not by the chart of accounts, and campaigns actually have a purpose, and a set of expected outcomes. So if they can start to communicate to their marketing team in the form of campaigns, and not make them try to fit within a rigid GL structure, I think they're gonna be much happier. So understanding that concept is really important.
- That's excellent. Anything that you want--
- By the way, I have to ask you for our listeners, for The Next CMO listeners, we have are a question that we ask everyone, and it's great to have you for this discussion, Rowan, because not only do you deeply understand the whole world of corporate financial planning, but you also are a marketing leader. And in one of the things we like to ask, because our audience is comprised of both current CMOs and aspiring CMOs, and people like me, I call it a recovering CMO. So what advice would you give to the CMOs or aspiring CMOs out there?
- Mine is, well, I'm gonna go with one of leadership, and it's one of just leading with empathy. I think, you know, it's something that the pandemic has really created for a lot of folks, in that we need to be far more empathetic and understanding of our team. And the best way to do that is to be really transparent. So, you know, those aspiring leaders and current leaders, you know, there's many different types of leadership. You can be directive, you can be consultative, you can be participatory, but whichever one you choose to be, make sure you're empathetic with it, because I think you'll get far more out of your team than you would think.
- That's great advice, completely agree. I appreciate that.
- All right, well, to both of our audiences--
- Alright, so we're both ending, right? So I have an ending, and you have an ending. So we'll fix that, I'll do that in my thing afterwards. So thank you for having me by the way, and I guess I should thank you for being had. I'm not sure how that works.
- Well yeah, thanks for allowing us to both share our common knowledge in one session and not having to record this twice, and cue both of our outro music. Hopefully we don't mix it up here.
- Exactly. Maybe we should mix them together and have a like a mashup or something. Fantastic, great talking to you, Rowan. Thanks.
- [Rowan] All right. Thanks Peter. Cheers mate, bye.


On this episode of Being Planful, Peter Mahoney, Founder and CEO of Plannuh, and podcast host Rowan Tonkin take a deep dive into the relationship between Marketing and Finance. What causes friction between these departments? How do we alleviate it? Tune in to hear their thoughts on how to get Finance and Marketing aligned, speaking the same language, and on track to becoming the strategic advisors to one-another that they were always meant to be.