Aliens & Accountants

It's the year 2040 AD, Fáilte Ireland has just launched a Green Campaign to attract a new market of visitors from outer space. 


The intrepid Chief Marketing Officer is returning from Venus. She has launched a successful St Patrick's Day marketing campaign and the colour green has strongly resonated with aliens looking for an exotic holiday in colder climes with cooling rains. 

Entering the Earth's atmosphere her i-Craft suddenly hits turbulence. Instead of landing in HQ in Dublin she is forced to divert and ends up making an emergency landing in the middle of a field. Slightly dazed, Orla peers out of the window. Much to her relief she sees a well dressed man in a pin stripe suite walking quickly towards her.

"Hiya, thank goodness you saw me land," she says... relieved to have made human contact. "Am I glad to see you. Could you tell me exactly where this is?" 

"Certainly. This is a field planted with lazy beds at 3 foot intervals. It is surrounded by stone walls and has a small gate which I've just closed," he replies.

"Yes I can see that. But where exactly am I?" she asked slightly exasperated.

"You are in a 12 acre potato field down the road from a church on the old Ballintemple Road. It belongs to a farmer called Mr Murphy"

Suddenly the CMO has an epiphany and cries, "I know exactly what you do. You're an accountant"

The accountant is stunned and looks at her in total amazement: "How did you know that?"

"Because what you told me is completely accurate...but totally meaningless." 

This story highlights how marketing & finance see things differently. Is business about creating profits or creating customers? Is it about understanding costs or understanding context?

Einstein once said,

"Not everything that can be counted counts. And not everything that counts can be counted"

He was talking about the limits of mathematics to fully understands the universe...which ties in nicely to Orla's quest.

Finance people often regard marketing people with suspicion. They see them as big spenders with low accountability. They're deeply ingrained with an "if you can't measure it, it doesn't matter" mindset.

The thing is Marketing is part Art and part Science...and the art side...which funny enough is the driver of demand - is often pooh poohed because like a kiss it's not exactly measurable.

Marketing people get frustrated by the inward focus of accountants who count the past but often at the expense of creating customer value. As soon as the going gets tough accountants cut spending on research, advertising, innovation and new product development. 

This short term approach makes it nigh impossible then to get customers to know, love, trust admire, adore and tell other people about your brand. Creating desire drives demand and enables companies to sell more products at a higher price point.

To be successful companies need to break down the silos. Marketers and finance folk need to spend more time talking about what's possible, how to innovate and create greater value, growth and return on investment.

In some ways customer value and financial value are very closely intertwined. As Jean-Noel Kapferer succinctly puts it,

"Customer equity is the precursor to financial  equity. Brands have financial value because they have created value in the hearts and minds of customers" 

So yes Marketer's do create value and if you need research to prove it then read more here

Disclaimer: No accountants were harmed during the writing of this post. A couple may have been cursed but we still count some of them as our best friends. After all they pay our invoices.