"Everything in marketing is measurable," Pat LaPointe of MarketingNPV states in an article entitled, "Building Blocks," which recently appeared in Marketing Management magazine. [You can download the article from the MarketingNPV wewbsite following free registration.]
The article focuses on the 10 things that your chief financial officer should know about "measuring the financial return form marketing investments," a subject that will also serve as the topic of a webcast Pat will be conducting on August 21 called, Is Your Marketing an Expense...or an Investment?. Anyone who has ever struggled to convince the folks in finance, or other business leaders for that matter, of the value of a particular marketing expenditure should tune in.
Ironically, the term "value" is often the trickiest sticking point in discussions between marketing and finance.
Having served my career in an organization whose stated philosophy is that, "revenue is proof that we are providing value to customers," I understand both the perspective of finance, for whom that statement is a given, and the challenge for marketers, such as myself, whose activities certainly aim at increasing revenue but which only do so in a highly mediated way.
Marketing activities, from promotions and direct mail to blogging and events, can often have unanticipated results and a fairly long tail. Generally accepted accounting principles, on the other hand, seek predictability (e.g., "over this specified amount of time this investment will yield this return based on these assumed risks and conditions"), and regular timeframes like quarters and fiscal years. Given these differences, and they aren't the only ones, it's not surprising that finance folks get frustrated with the seeming elasticity of marketing's notion of "return," and marketing folk think that finance people just don't get how marketing "works."
Pat LaPointe's perspective is that these gaps - cultural, terminological, and otherwise - are overcomeable if people are willing to maintain an ongoing dialogue about shared goals, respect mutual differences, and take the time to agree on common principles of measurement that satisfy the needs of both parties. Do you wrestle with these issues come budgeting time or in board meetings? If so, you should find out more by checking out the webcast on August 21.