How to Forge Financial Alignment
Amidst Economic Uncertainty

Jim Williams

Chief Marketing Officer

Bret Sanford-Chung

Marketing Consulting Managing Director

Jim Williams (0:07): Hello and welcome to today’s webinar on the CMO and CFO relationship, how to forge financial alignment amidst economic uncertainty. 

Jim Williams (0:18): I’m delighted to have you join us because it seems to be a very timely topic. 

Jim Williams (0:23): My name is Jim Williams. 

Jim Williams (0:25): I’m the CMO of Uptempo, the provider of software platforms to help people plan better, spend smarter, and execute with confidence. 

Jim Williams (0:34): And I am joined today by Bret Sanford-Chung. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (0:40): Hey, Jim, how are you? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (0:42): It’s good to, great to see you again, and I’m excited for this conversation. By way of introduction for the crowd… 

Bret Sanford-Chung (0:49): I am Bret Sanford-Chung, managing director here at KPMG, where I lead our marketing operations advisory practice within marketing consulting. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (0:59): And like you said, this has been a very hot topic with every one of my clients that I’m talking to on a daily basis, is really how we get marketing and finance sort of on the same page. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (1:15): Both for the efforts of efficiency and cost takeout, but also in the efforts of really knowing what market the value marketing is bringing to the table. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (1:26): So on both of those, it’ll be really good to dig into this and come to some conclusions. 

Jim Williams (1:34): Absolutely. 

Jim Williams (1:35): Like I said, it’s a very timely conversation. 

Jim Williams (1:37): It seems like every chat I have with CMOs, they’re talking about their relationship with their counterpart in finance and CFO, and a lot of that is around budget battles. 

Jim Williams (1:47): I’ll just say one last point here is that KPMG and Uptempo have formed a strategic partnership to take on this challenge and implement what we call marketing business acceleration, which is a system to help govern that relationship. 

Jim Williams (2:03): So let’s just go ahead and dive into it. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (2:05): Cool. 

Jim Williams (2:07): Well, the current state of the market, let’s start here. 

Jim Williams (2:09): I don’t think would be surprised if we call today’s market a bit frothy or challenging or constrained or whatever the case may be. 

Jim Williams (2:21): I won’t believe the point. We’re now looking at high-interest rates, drop in spending, mass layoffs, abutting financial crisis, etc., etc., etc., that has many, many organizations spooked. And when organizations are spooked, they tend to pull back on spend. 

Jim Williams (2:40): And that means there’s going to be a conversation between a CFO and a CMO. So maybe start us off, talk a little bit about that Bret. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (2:51): Well, I mean, you know, it’s been actually really interesting to see both sides of this, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (2:58): Marketers are doing their best to try and figure out a couple of things. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (3:04): First of all, how to get a seat at the strategic planning table, but also how to really get folks within the organization and the CFOs in particular to understand what value is being driven by marketing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (3:19): But what ends up happening because of a lot of the things we’re gonna talk about and siloed data, you know, the data sets that marketing is looking at are different than the data sets  

Bret Sanford-Chung (3:29): Finance is looking at. What ends up happening is marketing spends a lot of its time justifying its existence as opposed to actually doing marketing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (3:37): So it’s, it, it’s not the best situation, and I spend so much time with marketers who are saying, “I’m tired of trying to justify my existence. I want to actually do some marketing and then be able to measure it and prove that it has value as opposed to trying to, you know, utilize other data points to justify my existence.” 

Jim Williams (4:01): Yeah, that makes sense to me and it resonates, certainly reflective of many of the conversations I hear as well. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (4:07): What we’re seeing here is CFOs are making cuts where they can. They’re cutting, you know, what needs to be cut, what they think needs to be cut. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (4:16): But they’re only looking at half the picture because they’re looking at the data that they have as opposed to or in addition to the data that marketing is looking at. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (4:25): So because a CFO can’t, we sometimes say a CFO can’t cut what they can’t see, true. They also can’t manage what they can’t see because it’s not only about cutting, they can’t manage what they can’t see. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (4:39): And because the systems of marketing and finance are on silos, using, utilizing those siloed data sets that don’t ever overlap, it is very difficult for finance to make an informed decision about what they should be doing within marketing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (4:58): And it is not a transparent way to do business. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (5:02): Finance then has to sort of take marketing at its word, not necessarily always happening. So there’s really a lot of this going on where marketing and finance end up speaking at one another instead of to one another and really not getting done what needs to be done, and it ends up being a sort of defensive type of arrangement as opposed to a strategic arrangement. If that makes sense. You hearing the same thing, Jim? 

Jim Williams (5:30): Yeah, it totally makes sense. 

Jim Williams (5:31): I mean, it’s this never-ending vicious cycle, right? 

Jim Williams (5:34): If marketers can’t prove the ROI of each item of spend, what’s in their budget and their plans, then from a CFO or a finance perspective, we’ll just cut across the board there. 

Jim Williams (5:47): We need to cut; that’s a big pile of money. Let’s take 30% off of it. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (5:53): Right, 30% off the top as opposed to being strategic about 10% here, 5% here, 4% there, 3% there. And that’s really what is happening. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (6:05): I hear it all the time. Marketers saying, “I just have my budget cut 20% just across the board,” but it’s because they don’t have the visibility or the transparency into the data to be able to have those strategic conversations with the Chief Marketing Officer. 

Jim Williams (6:20): Yeah. 

Jim Williams (6:20): Well, let’s talk a little bit about what we’re hearing from marketing because I ran just a very quick snap survey of marketing executives of both B2B and B2C organizations. 

Jim Williams (6:32): And like I said, snap survey, sample questions really, you know, four or five simple questions and it’s amazing. You know, the first two questions were, how would you create your expectations for this year? 

Jim Williams (6:43): And generally speaking, you know, more than half of the people that were surveyed are still optimistic about growth in 2023. 

Jim Williams (6:53): And even a higher number that still think they’re on track to hit their targets for the year, right? 

Jim Williams (6:58): So generally optimistic amid admits the frothiness, right? 

Jim Williams (7:02): And the uncertainty of this market general optimism coming from marketing executives. 

Jim Williams (7:08): But let’s contrast that against what’s actually happening with marketing budgets. Even though marketers seem to be still bullish about hitting targets, 

Jim Williams (7:21): And their peers on the executive team are bullish about the year ahead, there are real cuts happening. In this case, 92% of the people surveyed said there’s already been at least one cut to the marketing budget since the start of the year. 

Jim Williams (7:36): We’re not even through the first quarter, and they’re not insignificant cuts, and we are talking about 10-30% here. 

Jim Williams (7:43): You can see more than half of the people surveyed, they have to cut 10 to 20% of their budget already. 

Jim Williams (7:50): And so obviously, these markets are having an impact on marketing budgets. 

Jim Williams (7:55): And for the most part, we don’t think that marketers are prepared to defend that budget with the data that they need. 

Jim Williams (8:05): Yeah, as a result of this, marketers are gonna have to find a way to spend smarter, that of course is always the mission. 

Jim Williams (8:14): What are some ways we’re seeing here? 

Jim Williams (8:15): This is some data that we pulled. 

Jim Williams (8:18): Actually, it comes from Neil Patel. 

Jim Williams (8:20): He ran a very interesting survey of where marketing dollars are flowing. 

Jim Williams (8:25): And the first thing, of course, is we’re gonna invest in more content, right? 

Jim Williams (8:29): So, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising and brand awareness, the next best way to build your brand is by getting great content out there, remarkable content, great thought leadership. 

Jim Williams (8:43): So, that’s a big area that marketers are investing. 

Jim Williams (8:46): We talked a little about ads. 

Jim Williams (8:48): Almost everyone surveyed in that quick survey said they’re pulling back big time on ad spend. 

Jim Williams (8:55): Certainly from offline ad spend, but even cutting into digital performance marketing ad spend, that’s a 70% decrease. 

Jim Williams (9:02): And the third is about working, as we said, smarter, right? You have constrained resources, you might be cutting into your head count, and in order to produce that content, many people are turning to the power of artificial intelligence. 

Jim Williams (9:15): We’ve all heard about the power, you know, the amazing aspects of Chat GPT and, and DALL-E. And there’s a huge amount of attention being put on using these tools to try and produce the same amount with less resources. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (9:32): Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of crazy. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (9:35): There are more and more channels and more and more ways that marketers need to just do the business of marketing on a day-to-day basis. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (9:44): But then, like you were just saying, Jim, there are all of these upcoming technologies that they also need to spend time and some money on to be able to stay ahead, not get disrupted, and do all of the things that marketers are supposed to be doing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:01): So how do they do that? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:02): And that is a question I get from clients every single day. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:07): How much of my budget should I be spending on new projects or new things? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:12): And how do I allocate time? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:14): How do I allocate people? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:17): And it’s really, again with these silo data sets that we’re talking about, a really difficult conversation to have because they kind of don’t know how high up it is. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:26): And also, the markets are changing and everything’s shifting. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:31): So it’s really important. There are a couple of different techniques that we’re seeing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:37): The first, of course, is scenario planning, good old-fashioned scenario planning, which I think we should probably all do a little more of in our lives. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (10:44): But, but it is really when you get back down to the basics, you need to plan for what you know is going to happen, but you also need to plan for the unpredictable, whether it’s a market downturn, things changing, or a new technology, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:00): So, it makes all of these things really crucial to do that scenario planning for if this happened, if-then planning, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:10): But also, the key budget owners, your stakeholders, need to be able to examine the pivot points and react to respond to them, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:19): So, if they start to see a change or they start to see something working over here but not working over here, they need to be able to shift with agility. And a lot of what I’m hearing anyway… 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:31): I don’t know if you’re hearing the same thing, but a lot of what I’m hearing is that marketers just don’t have that agility to be able to make intelligent decisions and say, “Oh, this isn’t working. So we will stop doing this and we will take that money and put it over here,” which is working, which will actually have a one plus one equals three effect on our budget, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:53): So scenario planning allows for that. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (11:57): But it depends on a lot of moving parts. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (12:00): It depends on a lot of data sets working together and it – those data sets, those parts of the organization – aren’t working together currently. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (12:09): So marketing, sales, finance, IT, all of marketing ops, data ops – all of those parts of the organization have to be looking at a single source of truth, and they’re not currently. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (12:22): So scenario planning becomes real hard when that’s the case. 

Jim Williams (12:27): Yeah, I would say that and other techniques too. Like a lot of our customers are talking about zero-based budget. 

Jim Williams (12:35): This idea, if you have a budget and it’s set at the beginning of the year and you could spend it as you need and shift dollars, etc., they’re moving away from that and moving to this more agile approach of, you know, starting at a period of time – whether it’s a month or a quarter or whatever the case may be. 

Jim Williams (12:49): What are your most important targets? 

Jim Williams (12:50): What are you trying to achieve? 

Jim Williams (12:51): What are your objectives? 

Jim Williams (12:52): How much money do you need to hit those objectives? 

Jim Williams (12:55): And that’s where the budget gets set and then it restarts again in the next period of time. 

Jim Williams (12:59): That can be incredibly discomforting for marketers for sure. 

Jim Williams (13:06): Like, and especially if Brett, they’re operating in siloed freeware systems. 

Jim Williams (13:14): Like the fact of the matter is marketers are still using spreadsheets to run the business of marketing. 

Jim Williams (13:19): How do you do the scenario planning? 

Jim Williams (13:20): How do you do zero-based budgeting? 

Jim Williams (13:22): How do you like if you have the insights that you need, how do you actually, how can you be agile and make a change to the plan relatively quickly? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (13:30): It’s just – it’s not scalable, it’s just not scalable. 

Jim Williams (13:36): So let’s move from here and talk about, you know, a big part of the challenge is frankly just the relationship between marketing and finance, right? 

Jim Williams (13:44): This gap, this persistent gap – why does the gap exist? 

Jim Williams (13:47): And what can we do to close it? 

Jim Williams (13:49): I think is a – is, is an interesting question and to kick that off, you know, marketing and finance are two different types of people. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (14:05): laughs Are they ever? 

Jim Williams (14:07): Yeah. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (14:08): Right. 

Jim Williams (14:08): They come from different places, they have different objectives. 

Jim Williams (14:11): It’s like we’re two completely different people because we are and that’s exactly true. 

Jim Williams (14:16): Financial and marketers use very different KPIs, they use different terminology, they come from different backgrounds. 

Jim Williams (14:23): We use this left brain right brain image to kind of convey the idea that, you know, someone that’s attracted to the… 

Jim Williams (14:31): So the career financed is very different person. 

Jim Williams (14:34): Typically that’s attracted to a career in marketing, right? 

Jim Williams (14:39): It’s not tons of room for creativity and finance and, and when there is, it’s usually a really bad sign, bad things come from that. 

Jim Williams (14:47): Whereas in marketing, it’s, you know, they want, as you said, get on to the business of marketing. 

Jim Williams (14:53): So that’s, that’s one of the challenges. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (14:56): That’s a huge challenge. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (14:58): But the what, what the other sort of disconnect or non-translation if you will that we’re seeing is marketing budgets because they’re run as manually as you were talking about. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:12): They’re just not compatible with the structure of how CFOs see the world and modern financial systems, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:20): So this is all done manually and with spreadsheets and a dance of spreadsheets that then get rolled up into a chart of accounts that recognizes none of that. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:35): So it’s looking at marketing as one big blob as opposed to looking like we were talking about before, at the different areas of marketing that may be working, some may be working better than others. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:47): Finance isn’t looking at it that way, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:49): So changes to marketing budgets need to be at a more granular level than the general ledger? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:57): And what does that look like? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (15:59): How do we make sure that marketing and finance not only are speaking the same language here, but are, are really looking at it from a shared goals, shared objectives. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:12): It’s not us versus them. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:14): We actually have some research that’s coming out pretty soon. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:19): It’s part of our five-part series of how the CMO can operate with the different parts of the C-suite. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:27): And the next report that’s actually the next report that’s coming out is about how marketing is operating with sales. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:34): But the report after that, we are actually in market now with the research is how marketing is operating with finance with the CFO these exact topics. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:45): So it’ll be really interesting. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (16:47): We should look at re-relooking at this once we have that data because what we are seeing or what we’re sort of teasing out of that data is that there’s a real disconnect in those objectives. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (17:02): And marketers are not understanding the mechanics of what the CFO is dealing with, of reconciling this general ledger. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (17:08): But then the CFO is not understanding what the marketer is dealing with, which is all of these manual systems and having to prove, you know, sting for their supper really. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (17:18): And prove that what they’re doing is working with a different set of data than what finance is using. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (17:25): So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an interesting getting them on the same page I think is a matter of that language that we talked about. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (17:33): That, that translation, but also shared objectives. 

Jim Williams (17:36): I agree. 

Jim Williams (17:37): And look, I love, I love the image on the slide because it drives home the point that is just a complete disconnect. 

Jim Williams (17:44): It’s almost, it really is like two different languages and there’s no Rosetta Stone, right? 

Jim Williams (17:49): So the way marketing thinks about their plans that cascade into programs and how those are funded line by line just completely doesn’t match up with how financial types look at the business and frankly how investors measure the health of the business, right? Is this, there’s just this mismatch and that is the fundamental problem that needs to be solved, right? 

Jim Williams (18:11): systems and CRM systems. 

Jim Williams (18:13): But there’s nothing that governs this relationship, this flow of data between two functions that run the business. 

Jim Williams (18:22): So that if we just move along, I mean that just kind of creates exacerbates this natural tension between the two groups and, and if you look at some of the data that comes out about CFOs. 

Jim Williams (18:35): This is another thing that came out of a report that was done by Cooper, which was super interesting. 

Jim Williams (18:41): You know, 90% of the financial types talk about this struggle, this disconnect that they’re having right on understanding the purpose of marketing and what the goals of marketing and how that creates a competitive edge and how that boosts sales and wallet share and improves the customer experience in a financial way in financial terms. 

Jim Williams (19:00): And one of the reasons for that is because they lack complete visibility when the CFO says, “Tell me how you’re gonna use this 6%, 7%, 10% of the revenue in a budget or an interview in order to hit your objectives.” 

Jim Williams (19:14): And the marketing team is not even using one spreadsheet to understand that, but maybe dozens or hundreds of spreadsheets or power points or other freeware, how can a CFO possibly have confidence that that money is being spent, you know, in a responsible way? 

Jim Williams (19:36): So I think what we call here just transition a little bit to like how do we solve this problem fundamentally? 

Jim Williams (19:43): And, and, and the problem really is when you look at it from the marketing point of view and we keep bouncing back CFO point of view, marketing point of view, the result of all of this is what we call the fog of marketing, right? 

Jim Williams (19:53): It’s a state of dysfunction that exists in many, many marketing organizations, even at some of the most sophisticated businesses in the world, like companies that you look at and say, “Oh my God, their branding is incredible, right?” 

Jim Williams (20:06): Their go-to-market is so sophisticated and unique. 

Jim Williams (20:09): Their products are amazing when it comes down to how they run the business. 

Jim Williams (20:14): It is actually a mess. You peel back those layers of the onion, you know… 

Bret Sanford-Chung (20:19): Bicycle cogs. 

Jim Williams (20:22): They have a great plan, and it’s been vetted, and the business understands it, gets marketed internally. 

Jim Williams (20:27): This is what we’re gonna do over the year because those plans exist in silo documents totally disconnected from the mechanics of the business. 

Jim Williams (20:37): You know, suddenly big, dispersed, geographically dispersed marketing teams go off in their own direction, right? 

Jim Williams (20:45): So everything starts to fracture, and then they’re trying to pull the results, the operational act and data back to understand the results of those marketing and the systems that are being used frankly, like I said, in a spreadsheet. 

Jim Williams (20:56): So it’s really hard to see at any given time what the state of the marketing plan is, whether it’s setting its objectives and you’re getting the return that the business expects from the well that the fog. 

Jim Williams (21:13): So what we are talking about here is a new approach, a new approach in some ways. 

Jim Williams (21:20): The best way to think about this is that we need to kind of implement a new operating model between marketing and finance or even an operating system, right? 

Jim Williams (21:29): Something that joins them, that the Rosetta Stone that allows marketing plans and budgets to be reconciled in an almost automated fashion with financial systems. 

Jim Williams (21:42): Something that ties the plans, goals, objectives, and programs to the financial reality, to the business plan and perhaps even downstream to the work systems, the systems that govern how resources like people and teams are going to be utilized to actually execute on that plan that doesn’t exist today, which is very different from the rest of the business you need to think about, you know, 15 years ago. 

Jim Williams (22:09): Most B2B organizations adopted in marketing adopted something called the demand funnel, right? 

Jim Williams (22:14): Which is like, “Hey, I got systematically create demand and convert it into pipeline, which converts into revenue, and there’s actually defying stages and there’s best practices and KPIs and benchmarks.” That doesn’t exist and how you run marketing in a financially sound way, and that’s what’s desperately needed today, this new approach. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (22:33): Totally agree. 

Jim Williams (22:37): We call this marketing business acceleration. 

Jim Williams (22:43): That’s the terminology that we’re using, and Brad maybe tell us a little bit about it. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (22:51): It’s actually really neat. You know, it’s this, you and I have been working on this for a while. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (22:54): It’s a joint vision between KPMG and Uptempo. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (22:58): We’re calling marketing business acceleration, and it really is a new way of solving this problem, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (23:07): And do all of these different techniques. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (23:10): But marketing finance need to be able to have reliable, accurate actionable, but integrated data so that they can make decisions together and they can make intelligent decisions together. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (23:25): So implementing this kind of a model allows marketing and finance to gain the control of the financial and fiscal control that we’ve talked about. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (23:36): But also to start to look what we were talking about before, start to utilize the same data in real time at the same time so that they can start to speak the same language and they can start to gain shared objectives so they can create that fiscal viability they need. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (23:57): But they also can be more strategic about where they’re going to cut, where they’re going to invest, how they’re gonna look at marketing together and the marketing budget together intelligently. 

Jim Williams (24:12): Yeah. 

Jim Williams (24:12): So, let’s talk about these domains. 

Jim Williams (24:15): Like this concept of marketing business acceleration, I referred to this a bit earlier conceptually, right? 

Jim Williams (24:20): But we believe that there are four key areas of marketing today, the business of marketing that do not run on modern software systems at all. 

Jim Williams (24:30): And that creates this fog of marketing and a lack of visibility and the inability to pull data and justify spend. 

Jim Williams (24:39): The first, of course, is planning. The planning process in many organizations is a bit chaotic and a bit haphazard. 

Jim Williams (24:49): I guess you could say the reason for that is frankly, many marketers today weren’t even schooled in how to do marketing, much less how to do marketing planning. 

Jim Williams (24:58): Right. 

Jim Williams (24:58): Like that’s the last thing you learn, many people will learn the business market and they come up because, you know, I’m a creative thinker and I know how to run campaigns and then, you know, how to run automation systems and then, you know how to do digital marketing, you know how to run and doesn’t mean you know how to do a strategic plan for an enterprise organization. 

Jim Williams (25:17): So most plans today are a bit haphazard, and they end up in power points and put in some file somewhere for people to refer to. 

Jim Williams (25:24): Occasionally after a long second is budget financial management. 

Jim Williams (25:29): We just talked about it even let these very large organizations. 

Jim Williams (25:31): You are still relying on spreadsheets, dozens of spreadsheets, to run the finances of marketing, to manage millions of dollars at very large organizations, those spreadsheets, of course, don’t connect back to the purchasing systems, the financial systems that the CFOs use. 

Jim Williams (25:51): So that’s a major problem as a result of that, you have no idea where you are against your plan, committed spend, etc., right? 

Jim Williams (25:59): The reconciliation process sometimes can chew up 20% of the time period that you’re trying to analyze. 

Jim Williams (26:05): Right, in a month you could chew up three or four days trying to reconcile budgets for very large enterprises. 

Jim Williams (26:12): I talked about connection to work management systems, meaning systems that actually govern how your plans are going to be carried out. 

Jim Williams (26:20): The people involved, the teams, the deadlines, the milestones, et gcetera. 

Jim Williams (26:24): Those systems are totally disconnected from the plan and the finance, right? 

Jim Williams (26:28): So even if you had insights that said we need to change, of course, we’re not gonna hit our targets. 

Jim Williams (26:35): We need to be agile, we need to pivot. 

Jim Williams (26:37): There’s no way to trigger those changes in downstream work. That just takes too long. You know, it’s like you always use the analogy of trying to turn a container ship using your arm as the rudder. It takes a long time to turn that though. 

Jim Williams (26:54): And finally, performance management again, where your plans are totally disconnected and when your budgets are disconnected from where you sometimes measure your results, right? 

Jim Williams (27:05): Whether that’s e-commerce systems or whether it’s in POS systems or whether that’s in your B to B in sales force where you measure your pipeline and you measure your revenue, those aren’t connected in any way to the plan and certainly not to the spend. 

Jim Williams (27:19): So how can you ever get to return on investment on a line by line basis? Most markets can’t do that. 

Jim Williams (27:27): We need to unify that with this operating model. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (27:30): Yeah. 

Jim Williams (27:31): Ok. 

Jim Williams (27:32): So how do you unlock marketing’s potential with this new operating model? With marketing business acceleration? 

Jim Williams (27:37): Well, any operating model, whether it’s something called the demand funnel or you could talk about account-based marketing or you could talk about customer experience management, right? 

Jim Williams (27:46): They come with a couple of key ingredients and the first and most important is this idea of a maturity model, right? 

Jim Williams (27:52): Continuous improvement. 

Jim Williams (27:55): And so marketing business acceleration offers that too, right? 

Jim Williams (27:58): It’s this notion of three kind of layers you’re trying to attain right? Three levels you’re trying to attain as a marketing, the first which we refer to and we use this word so many times is visibility. 

Jim Williams (28:10): You know, you can’t manage what you can’t see. Bret, you said that right? 

Jim Williams (28:14): The first thing about connecting those four domains together in a system is to give visibility or transparency across the marketing team and into the financial, the finance team as well. 

Jim Williams (28:25): And once you have that visibility, it becomes much easier to activate your programs and campaigns to move at speed that the market desires, right? 

Jim Williams (28:34): Like, but the first one that gets there typically wins in markets and it just takes too long for large organizations for this highly chaotic process to actually get to market. 

Jim Williams (28:46): So velocity becomes really important. 

Jim Williams (28:47): And finally, we think it’s kind of the pinnacle of this maturity model is agility. 

Jim Williams (28:52): And that’s actually using the data you collect, the metadata, and everything else, that performance data, to make decisions about when to change direction and be able to do that quickly. 

Jim Williams (29:03): So that’s really what we call the maturity model behind marketing business acceleration. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:12): So that’s, you know, it’s so interesting, Jim, what you were just talking about in the maturity model because we’ve seen it, you know, with clients. We’ve actually been implementing marketing business acceleration as a concept and as a program with clients. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:30): And it’s working. We just actually finished an engagement with a very large industrial manufacturer who had serious issues. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:39): I mean, their marketing organization, they have three different business units. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:42): So I mean, that’s pretty typical to begin with, but three different business units that completely operated in silos. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:50): And so because the business units operated in silos, of course, the marketing organizations operated in yet another set of silos. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (29:58): There was very disjointed budget management even within those silos. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:03): But like we were talking about before, lots of spreadsheets, not a lot of integrated technology. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:09): And what they really wanted to do was bring all of the business units and all of marketing onto a single source of truth into a single technology platform that enabled this type of vision and view across the business. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:26): And then of course, because everything else was so manual, there was no formal agency process to manage their agency spend. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:37): And they didn’t really have a lot of transparency in it within it, even within the business units, never mind across the business units. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:45): So we went in, we redefined…you know, it’s interesting, this is not solely the technology solution, right? 

Bret Sanford-Chung (30:53): There are processes and contracts and a lot of other things and a lot of other aspects of change management that have to go on and similar to this. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:03): So we redefine their business and marketing processes, how they actually get things done within marketing. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:10): We helped them reassess their contracts with their agencies to make them a little bit more accountable, actually, a lot more accountable. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:17): And we enabled that marketing spend management tools selection. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:22): We actually helped them with the tool selection. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:25): And then they went with the technology platform Acadia to help them with these new processes, these new ways of working, getting it to stick and actually creating the single platform across all of the different business unit marketing organizations. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:45): So we enabled that transition from siloed and an organized process to a more centralized, transparent, visible, and actionable system. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (31:56): And we evolve that manual, time-consuming process you were talking about before, Jim, this spring, sheets, and PowerPoint into a more dynamic and agile system. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (32:06): But most important for the CFO we’ve been talking about is we enabled an estimated savings, annual savings of between two and $4 million by implementing this system. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (32:20): So we didn’t cut anything else; we saved between two and $4 million by implementing the system. 

Jim Williams (32:28): Yeah. 

Jim Williams (32:29): Super impressive. 

Jim Williams (32:30): I’ve heard a little bit about the story and in the inside about this, and what stuck with me is just how big the gap in understanding of the budget there was between the CFO and CMO. Like, it was astounding how big of a gap there was in visibility between what the CMO thought they had to spend and what the CFO thought they had to spend. 

Jim Williams (32:50): It’s interesting. I’ll tell you one other quick story, and then we’ll wrap it up. 

Jim Williams (32:54): We work with a company called Splunk, and more specifically, a woman named Marlene Chan, who’s the marketing business operations director of Splunk. 

Jim Williams (33:03): What a great name that is, marketing business operations, great title. 

Jim Williams (33:07): We know Marlene really well because she’s used our product at a couple of different organizations now, and if you don’t know Splunk, it is a company that absolutely exploded, like super-fast growth rate in the tech sector. 

Jim Williams (33:23): Why? 

Jim Williams (33:23): Because they provide the fundamental tools that cybersecurity analysts use to determine whether or not there’s been a breach. As you can imagine, over the last 10 years, a lot of people need that technology. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (33:37): Yes. 

Jim Williams (33:37): So, super-fast growth and yet again, a very sophisticated company, well-known brand, highly respected, rapid growth, you know, marketing money, and spend management was simply all over the place. 

Jim Williams (33:51): It was done on spreadsheets. 

Jim Williams (33:52): It was hard to get visibility into what was left in the budget in any given period. 

Jim Williams (33:56): That reconciliation process was slow and painful. 

Jim Williams (34:00): It was funny because she spoke recently about how much improvement they’ve made because they, she would talk about how different program owners budget. 

Jim Williams (34:10): All the owners would come in and be really proud of like getting within 10% of their projected spend by the end of the quarter. 

Jim Williams (34:17): And she said you add up that 10% here and 10% here and 15% and 4%, you know, you’re talking about $100,000 that’s getting left on the table. 

Jim Williams (34:25): They’re not being deployed to further grow the company. 

Jim Williams (34:29): So they, she’s completely transformed it by putting in a spend management place and starting this journey towards what we call marketing business acceleration, which is, as you said, it’s not software, it’s actually a system, right? 

Jim Williams (34:44) It’s an actual operating model which is critical to understand. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (34:48) Very cool. 

Jim Williams (34:51) So I think with that, we’ve had a great conversation but I really enjoyed it. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (34:56) As am I. 

Jim Williams (34:57) Yeah, yeah, I like again, we’re, I think we’re at the beginning of a, of a wonderful journey together with KPMG and up tempo. 

Jim Williams (35:04) And you can see why there’s a very big problem in the marketplace today. 

Jim Williams (35:09) A lot of people feel the pain but never think that there’s a way to solve it. 

Jim Williams (35:13) Like that’s just the way things are done. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (35:15) Solving it’s “too hard”. 

Jim Williams (35:16) Yeah, it’s too hard. 

Jim Williams (35:18) And, you know, you talked about enormous savings with the client you talked about and I talked about enormous savings in today’s market. 

Jim Williams (35:26) What could possibly be more important than sound financial management and marketing to make the case for a lot of other things. 

Jim Williams (35:33) So, you know, key takeaways. 

Jim Williams (35:38) Number one, if you haven’t had a conversation with the CFO and your marketing, you’re probably gonna have one given the market that we’re in. 

Jim Williams (35:46) Sound management and marketing is absolute of your budget is absolute critical, critical priority. 

Jim Williams (35:52) And it’s not just about saving dollars all the time. 

Jim Williams (35:54) Sometimes it’s about saving your credibility or even more saving your career. 

Jim Williams (35:58) You gotta be able to speak the language of finance with executives in your organization if you’re gonna run on marketing. 

Jim Williams (36:06) So, thank you for watching. 

Jim Williams (36:07) I recommend that you come check out and learn a little bit more about this model. 

Jim Williams (36:11) We’re talking about called marketing business acceleration. 

Jim Williams (36:14) This is a link right here on the slide that you can see. 

Jim Williams (36:17) And otherwise, Bret, thank you so much for your insights. 

Jim Williams (36:22) I appreciate it. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (36:23) Always a pleasure. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (36:24) Take care Jim. 

Jim Williams (36:25) Thank you. 

Bret Sanford-Chung (36:26) Bye bye bye. 


Jim Williams

CMO, Uptempo

Bret Sanford-Chung

Marketing Consulting Managing Director, KPMG