Northeastern University marketing professor Bruce Clark wrote an article titled Financial Analysis for Marketers.  He includes a diagram titled How We Get to Profit which pulls together all of the components he defines.

“Moving all the way to the left, we then have four levers to improve total contribution.”

Prof. Clark posted his first draft and requested feedback on Twitter, resulting in a thriving discussion which meandered beyond the scope of the original article.  Here are a few highlights.


(Matt Bergman)

“curiosity – in [contemplating] pricing increases to either 22.95 or 24.95 & giving research data for 21.95 & 24.95, are you hoping for folks to back into expected fall-off at 22.95?”

(Graham Robertson)

“I kinda thought in the real world, we don’t always have the exact research for what we want to do. So while the straight math for 21.95 vs 24.95 could work, we might need to make an assumption for what the volume might do at 22.95.”

(Matt Bergman)

“That’s what I thought & I love that you did it that way – push a little bit to really apply the concepts, well done!”


(Frances O’Reilly)

“Super resource and clearly written. Understanding the impact of price discounting on profit is also critical for new graduates. That 15% off the RRP has bigger than 15% impact on profit. Brand builders should not give away margin lightly. We build brands to increase margins.”


(Jon Bradshaw)

“Mostly useful for goods sold through a third party.
Retail Sales Value = shoppers money through the till.
Gross Sales Value = usually wholesale list price x volume sold to intermediary.
Net Sales Value = GSV less all discounts.

Distinguishing between RSV, GSV and NSV is a critical revenue management skill. I once did a project drilling into shopper behaviour at RSV level. Only to find out that the firm had bet the farm on discounts and NSV had collapsed

Gets a little tricky when discounts to third parties like retailers are paid both directly from every invoice and in timed rebates like a quarterly discount. In theory they all sit above the NSV line, after GSV. But we now enter a murky accounting world and I defer to my betters.”


(Tom Lewis)

“I tend to draw a distinction between: – financially literate, and – commercially astute The first can read a P&L etc

The second knows how to make money. There is some overlap in the middle, but the most commercially astute people I’ve met often have only basic financial literacy. They just need to know: will I make money if I do this?

I’ve also worked with very financially literate GMs who were commercially terrible. The reason, I think, is that finance is fundamentally measurement of results whereas marketing is actions that lead to results.”

Prof. Clark’s article refers to two books:

Financial Intelligence by Karen Berman and Joe Knight (2013).

Beloved Brands by Graham Robertson (2018). 978-1983625886

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