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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why finance professionals should be marketing experts too

At first blush, marketing and finance guys seem poles apart(atleast in Bschools). Right from their MBAspeak(the finance guy talks of ROE/NPV/ROI while the marketing guy speaks of brand recall/ad impressions etc), choice of electives('number work' against 'globe') and in personal likes(market watching v/s consumer mind reading); these two seem very different. But years down the line, there will be more similarities than differences. The brand manager would have learnt to build metrics and investment case for marketing investments(ASPM) while the finance guy would have learnt that marketing the product(Yes, even banking services are increasing becoming products!:() needs that it should be tailored to the investor profiles and needs(viz marketing fundamental!).

Some examples of marketing expertise needed in the finance world are
  • Important and expensive financial sales(capital market funding, debt financing, PE sales, selling to institutional clients) happen through small group interactions like pitches, road shows, hedge fund meetings etc. There, Marketing 101 fundae apply in abundance like investor segmentation, tailoring the message to the investor; as do design fundae(slide graphics etc). 
  • Even on the retail banking side, financial products are sold more like FMCG items where hope/trust/brand ambassadors/anchors are deployed with impunity.
  • Marketing research is needed to capture customer trends and preferences, so that payoffs can be created and sold accordingly. For example, if research shows that investors are becoming risk averse, they can be sold principal protected notes(a zero coupon bond+derivative combo).
  • With intangible assets increasing making up the bulk of mcap, the corporate finance manager needs to appreciate the drivers and meaning of branding, human resources accounting etc. 
  • Nowadays, corporate communication is integrated with marketing to present a single face of the company to external and internal audiences. Hence, the investor relations guy needs to understand those marketing/Corp Comm fundae to effectively get his point across.

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