Marketing is a key function in building any successful organization; therefore, it requires assessing and hiring the right marketing director. The challenge when investing in marketing is there is no one magic marketing strategy for success. Rather, it is the continued execution and mix of marketing strategies that will help position your firm as a competitive entity.
When hiring a marketing director or marketing professional, it requires more than just posting a job description and hoping you find the right person to work on autopilot. It is about curating the outcome you want. This requires you to get crystal clear on your business opportunities, your capacity, and the exact skills needed for the role. You then need to develop your marketing staff.
1. Questions to Ask Yourself
- What results do you envision from a marketing investment?
- What are you expecting from a marketing director or potential hire?
- What are the critical marketing tasks needed that you cannot live without?
Many firms struggle with these questions because marketing encompasses so many different categories and strategies, including, but not limited to:
- Strategic Planning / Marketing Budget Planning
- Branding (Web / Print / Digital / Social Media)
- Niche Market Development
- Content Development / Education
- Market Research / Consumer Behavior / Analytics
- Public Relations / Philanthropy / Sponsorships
- Prospecting / Cross-Marketing Campaigns
- Client Appreciation / Client Events
When considering marketing candidates, most leaders have a set budget for salary and marketing expenditures. This can be a problem if you are expecting all the above abilities in a single candidate. The plethora of skills listed above may not exist in one candidate for the budget you want.
Oftentimes, candidates may come with experience in one of the above disciplines and therefore only think with that lens. Others may have a wide-ranging skill set with results to back-up their talents; but those individuals often command upper tier compensation. You need to be clear on what skills you cannot live without for this role. If it is the right candidate, they would be coachable and accountable to learning additional skills to elevate their role and abilities over time.
2. Marketing Investment vs. ROI
It is also important to consider that marketing tactics are not all easily quantifiable in terms of results. For example, if you execute a specific lead generation campaign, those types of activities allow you to measure if the campaign was successful. Other marketing tasks, such as developing a logo, are critical for branding, yet difficult to quantify in terms of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs).
Although lead generation campaigns or digital marketing may be easier to quantify in terms of metrics, that alone may not help you cultivate the personal side of client development. In service or advice-driven organizations, relationships still drive revenue.
Some marketing efforts also take time to gain traction. For instance, you may be a new leader who has taken on the reigns of a firm that needs to reposition itself – or you may be building a scratch operation. These efforts may take some time to build your brand and brand awareness to help support a sales or business effort.
3. Levels of Marketing Support
When hiring and selecting marketing talent, whether for an internal staff position or contracting with an outside vendor, there are typically 3 levels of marketing roles and support. Each of these levels come with varying compensation ranges, skill sets, and levels of experience.
LEVEL 1 – MARKETING ASSISTANT
Typically, this role is an entry-level position with a specific focus on supporting and carrying out marketing projects or initiatives that are defined by the firm. It is more of a marketing support and project execution role that encompasses basic administrative marketing tasks. To advance in this role, it requires specific mentoring, training and development, and exposure to higher level strategic thinking and best practices. Among the typical skills required in this role are detail-orientation, strong communication and writing skills, time management, basic computer skills, and the ability to work independently and interdependently within a team. Accountability and task management are critical skills needed in this role.
LEVEL 2 – MARKETING COORDINATOR OR MANAGER
A marketing coordinator or manager builds upon the skills in Level 1. This candidate will typically have at least a few years of experience in a marketing role – with specific experience in your industry being a plus. They should be able to comprehend the objectives of the firm and apply specific tactics and strategies to the firm’s target markets or goals. They would be managing and supporting strategies including lead generation or client development campaigns. They understand the value of a client and can measure analytics or market data to help ascertain the success of projects. They may support developing creative or social media content, image building for the firm, and can manage tasks without continual oversight. They should typically have more experience with communication and presentation skills. They may also work directly with outside vendors to support specific initiatives as needed. They may rely on input from your executive team but are able to work autonomously and drive their projects to completion on schedule. The critical skills needed for this role are project management and interpersonal skills, detail orientation, creative thinking and writing, and the ability to pivot strategies as needed for changes within the industry.
LEVEL 3 – MARKETING DIRECTOR
A marketing director’s talents are cultivated through significant years of experience in a particular industry or through a defined set of marketing and business development skills. They do not just manage tasks, they help set them. They are often brought in to help shape a firm’s business direction, along with developing and implementing the firm’s overall marketing objectives. They are a key member of the firm’s executive team, and as such, will carry a higher salary or performance-based compensation model.
Hiring a marketing director can help you plan and oversee your firm’s marketing vision, resources, and budget, while determining strategies to bring your firm’s value proposition to market. A strong marketing director will possess excellent presentation skills and deliver measurable business results to support the firm’s revenue. They become positioned as an opinion leader and advisor through their knowledge of industry markets, consumer behavior, and analytics. The critical skills needed for this role include all of the skills required in the above levels, but with additional emphasis on strategic thinking, leadership, and knowledge of strategies for your industry or business model.
A highly skilled Marketing Director will help you answer the following questions:
- Where is the ball going in the industry?
- What resources will the firm need to capture opportunities?
- How do we position our firm to serve different niche markets and sectors?
4. The Hiring and Selection Process
To determine what level of marketing support is right for you, it may require engaging an experienced consultant who has personally hired and developed numerous marketing directors within your industry. Many of the skills required for the different marketing roles cannot be fully ascertained by reviewing a resume. It requires a careful set of interview questions and techniques to gauge a candidate’s true abilities and perspectives in your marketplace.
The right consultant will often be brought in to help interview candidates and guide you through the hiring, selection, and training process. You may be looking solely at whether a person is a good fit for your team’s culture but misdiagnose if they are the right fit for the overall role you need.
5. Developing Your Marketing Talent
Regardless of the level of marketing support you choose for your firm, you still need to be cognizant of developing your marketing staff, so they remain valued members of your team. There is a difference between talking about what you want done vs. sharing your perspectives on why these tasks are important to the firm’s objectives.
This may require sending your team to industry conferences or giving them the opportunity to work with a consultant to elevate their skill set. It is recommended to allow them to sit in on strategic planning meetings, so they understand how and why specific business decisions are made. It is about helping them gain exposure to the needs of your industry and the clients you want to serve.
In terms of communication, when you schedule regular check-in meetings with your marketing team, they need to be on a consistent, regular schedule. Weekly meetings are their time, not yours to cancel or skip. Your marketing team is often waiting for that meeting so they can walk through upcoming tasks with you and get their questions answered. Further, a consistent meeting helps foster accountability on all sides so tasks are accomplished.
Consistency goes beyond just holding a weekly or daily meeting. It is also following through on agreed upon strategies vs. changing the strategies from week to week. Leaders who are constantly changing their focus or lack clear vision will often suffer from employee retention issues or productivity losses. It is important to follow through on agreed upon action plans to build trust and gain momentum with strategies and results.
Brainstorming different ideas is great, but your team needs to be clear on what they are accountable for and being measured by. If the message or your expectations are constantly changing or unclear, you will not get the desired result. In fact, it may cause your team to get frustrated.
Oftentimes, when a marketing staff member is falling short, they may not know how to do the job or are not capable of doing the job. That is a recruiting and selection problem. Other times, the employee may not know the expectation, they just know the job. That scenario can lead to a staff member who falls short of their goals; yet never knew what the goals were. That is a leadership problem, not your staff’s problem.
8. Setting Clear Expectations and Performance Plans
It gets exciting when your marketing team realizes they are working towards a valuable business outcome and are motivated to do so. Clear expectations, performance plans, and leadership are key. It is about helping your team gain clarity on the industry you are in. Your responsibility as the leader is to help them grow in their role and as a professional in the industry. Sharing your perspectives of the industry helps them tie marketing tactics to a desired result.
Every employee is going to be motivated by something different. Some employees are motivated by money, some want to elevate their skills, some want to contribute to a team and be appreciated for their efforts, and some simply want to work in a collegial environment.
The goal is to get to know what motivates the individual members of your marketing team. Your expectations need to be clear and so do theirs.
The Bottom Line
Your investment in hiring a marketing director or professional can help deliver increased ROI for your business and a more powerful brand presence in your marketplace. With effective marketing talent and strategies in place, you can uncover and position your firm in specific niche markets to which you have an affinity.
The real benefits of hiring a Marketing Director include:
- The capacity to uncover new markets that you are best suited to serve.
- Increased ROI from existing markets.
- Deeper, more significant relationships with top clients.
- Enhancing your client experience.
- Brand awareness and increased visibility.