Growth strategy and the corporate land of milk and honey

Ed Marsh | Feb 18, 2015


Corporate silos and intractable conflict

Every company has planning sessions.  Mission statements are "Dilbert" moments on almost every conference room wall - irrelevant enough to be amusing, yet obligatory nevertheless.

But growth strategy isn't just an academic exercise.  As long as companies allow competing silos to exist they'll limit the value of strategy.  Whether it's between sales & marketing, or the classic face off between finance and marketing, it's a drain on energy that should be outwardly focused.  (Of course, there are others as well.  HR v. finance; operations v. sales, etc.  And they're all counterproductive.)

Beneficial conflict

What makes these conflicts so persistent is the different perspectives.  Different values and skills bring different folks to different specialties.  And companies need those different perspectives to balance corporate culture and ensure that decisions and policies consider multiple, valid points of view.

So while it's easy to lament silos, it's much harder to overcome them (no news flash there), and in fact, eliminating them would be undesirable.

BUT...every once in a while there's a unique opportunity.  A chance to align silos by unifying previously conflicting perspectives.  And if companies can achieve that, they've got a great opportunity to advance their growth strategy.

That's the opportunity available to traditionally adversarial functions of finance and marketing.

Mutual respect and accountability

In many cases respect for professional credentials has existed...but accountability has been missing.  And accountability is the essence of the finance role.  As a result, come budgeting time, marketing would toss out inadequately justified requests and finance would understandably, and strenuously, resist.

The interdepartmental antagonism has been understandable, yet unproductive.

It's also now unnecessary.

Changes in buyer behaviors, and available technology, have converged to provide insightful marketers real-time actionable data.  No longer must (or should) they execute long-term campaigns just hoping for some results - knowing that any results will be, at best, only indirectly attributable to their work.  Today they can immediately discern precisely what activities generated which dollars of profit (and which activities were unproductive.)

In turn that means that finance can no longer dismiss marketing's requests - as long as marketing comes to the table with a fully justified investment case tied to measurable, significant outcomes.

And finance can evaluate all investment requests using a consistent methodology - whether for capital expansion or marketing spend.

It's not that finance ever wanted to shortchange marketing - they just were loathe to waste limited resources.

A legitimate concern that marketing can now overcome.

Learning to collaborate

Of course in most companies this potential collaboration will take some work to fully achieve.  There are ossified attitudes and embedded practices which will have to be overcome.

The place to start is with an understanding of not only what's possible, but what's reasonably achievable.  Combine that with a common language, and some coaching from finance on how marketing can begin to compete for resources on an equal footing, and collaboration can take hold.

It's critical to effective implementation of growth strategy for B2B companies today.

Our eBook, "Business Executive's Guide to the Finance of Content Marketing" provides a great start.  And it offers an added bonus to finance execs - a list of ancillary benefits of this collaboration from more accurate forecasting to increased enterprise valuation.  Download your free copy here.

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