In the 1992 best-seller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, author John Gray argued that men and women have fundamentally different psychological make-ups that drive miscommunication and can lead to dysfunctional relationships.

Marketing professionals and their nonmarketing counterparts, particularly those who come from a financial background, suffer from a similar problem.

The consequence of the dysfunctional relationships that emerge within a corporate setting is substantially reduced profitability. Unfortunately, it is often the marketing professional who becomes the scapegoat for the sub-par performance.

That is why marketers must learn to speak in financial terms.

The Root of the Problem

Gray's book argued that the fundamental differences between men and women affect how the genders think, how they react to stress, what their expectations are relative to communications, and so on. In many cases, these expectations are so different that it may seem men and women come from entirely different planets. To make the relationship more functional, Gray asserts, men and women must each understand the cultural context of the "planet" on which their life partner grew up.

Like men and women, marketing professionals and their nonmarketing counterparts may also seem from different planets. Marketing professionals' natural interests, training, and—most important—their language may differ significantly from their nonmarketing counterparts'.

The language gap causes anxiety on both sides. Marketers are frustrated as their budgets and strategies are contested, and they worry that the C-Suite perceives them as the source of the problem rather than a resource for solutions.

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image of Heather Fitzpatrick

Heather Fitzpatrick is the founder of MarketFitz Inc., a management consulting firm focused on helping companies measure and improve returns on marketing investments. A CPA, she is the author of Marketing Management for Non-Marketing Managers: Improving Returns on Marketing Investments.