What Characteristics Should I Look for in a Marketing Leader?

What Characteristics Should I Look for in a Marketing Leader?

What Characteristics Should I Look for in a Marketing Leader?

No Goals No Career

When Hiring a Chief Marketing Officer, Look to Match Their Qualities to Your Business Needs.

 

Executives understanding of the importance of the marketing function has certainly progressed in the B2B sector as technology tools increased the ability to showcase return on investment and map the client journey.

Data analytics and artificial intelligence can mine your CRM and lead generation systems, providing a wealth of forward-looking information. Your marketing leader can analyze the data and provide your executive leaders and Board with critical, time-saving information for your business that can be incorporated into your strategy, leading to enhanced market position.

But when it comes time to hire a Chief Marketing Officer, many companies fail to look for the individual’s attributes that will match the needs of their organization, and instead, include a wish list of everything the company wants to accomplish, leaving the rest of the C-suite to wonder why the person they hired can’t succeed.

You need to start with creating a clear job description based on your business strategy.

What strategic aims are trying to accomplish over the next 5 years? Is it brand building? Revenue growth? Expansion of offices? Expansion of existing client services? This determines the type of marketer you hire – you need to couple the Marketing Leader’s capabilities to your organizational strategy and business needs. Trying to ask them to do everything is a recipe for disaster.

Marketers’ skills are strategic, tactical and creative. Finding a unicorn with all proficiencies is rare. Determine what kind of skills your organization needs – today – in your Marketing Leader.

For simplicity, I grouped the marketing leaders into four major leadership categories, highlighting a few pros and cons of each.

The Marketing Strategist

Marketing-Strategist-LeaderThis leader looks at a business plan and sees where marketing can make the most impact. They provide vision and clarity on how marketing can help improve business today and tomorrow. They can translate this into meaningful numbers for the CEO and provide data analytics to support marketing programs and demonstrate success.

These strategic thinkers move quickly and aren’t afraid to try new things and will pilot new programs, learning from them and scaling up from there. They believe if you fail, you should fail fast and learn what from it. Don’t fear failure!

Their biggest strength is flexibility. They can change and modify plans as needed, getting teams engaged and excited to “go with the flow.” They can also be your biggest advocate and brand ambassador, motivating others internally and externally. They view everything through the lens of the client/customer experience. The Strategist wants to improve that experience and keep them engaged.

 

The Marketing Tactical Expert

Marketing-Tactical-LeaderThe Tactical leader is an expert in the multiple functional roles of marketing, such as branding, public relations, CRM, email marketing – and was in many of those roles over the years. They mastered many of the skillsets and can still do the work if needed. This is the “roll-up the sleeves” type of person.

They have a high degree of knowledge which allows them to mentor others and provide training to the whole team. You know that if you give them a project it will get done. They are marketing experts – the implementers and “doers” – and are particularly valuable to smaller firms and start-ups.

 

The Marketing Operations/Administrator

Over the course of my career, this is the most frequent type of marketing leader I’ve seen. This individual will structure, organize, put reporting into place, and have the marketing staff shifted to maximize efficiency.

Marketing-Operations-LeaderHowever, unless they also have Strategic skills and are able to tie their marketing strategy to business goals, they are short-term fixers.

This isn’t to say that you don’t need a Marketing Operations individual, you do!

You simply need to find a leader with complementary traits – Operations and Strategy – or hire an additional individual to handle those elements separately.

 

The Creative Marketer

Creative-Marketing-LeaderA Creative leader has a mind that sees your target in the marketplace and thinks, “how are we going to grab their attention and turn them into a client?” They are great at putting together impactful campaigns, finding new technology, and diving into digital mediums to target and segment your audience. They will lead your staff into new territory and excite them to work for your company.

Contrary to popular belief, not every marketer is creative. In fact, I’ve found that unless you are hiring specifically for a creative individual, most are not. So, don’t take it for granted that you will have a Creative marketing leader, and if you do – treasure them!

 


Now, you may find a marketing leader with both strategic and tactical skills, or strategic and administrative or any of the various couplings. As you interview candidates ask their approach to projects, opportunities and how they lead their team. This will indicate the type of behaviors they have and help you determine if they are the right fit for your business’s needs. Don’t expect to find someone with all attributes – hire for what your specifically need. Unicorns are rare or impossible to find for a reason!

It is not always easy to find and hire a Chief Marketing Officer. But by determining what your company’s business goals are, you can determine which kind of leader or mix of marketing leadership attributes you need to thrive.

3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

No Goals No Career

Choosing a marketing leader is far too important to your business to waste time hiring the wrong one.

 

Ask 20 CEOs about the responsibilities of a Head of Marketing, and you’ll receive 20 answers, all varying in scope and the position’s ultimate accountability. How is it that, in 2020, one of the most critical functions in an organization, especially for B2B companies, is still so misunderstood?

Understanding of the importance of marketing has certainly progressed in the B2B sector over the past five years as technology tools have increased the ability to showcase return on investment and the client journey.

There are three simple steps to take to hire and ensure a new Head of Marketing will be successful in their role:

    1. Match your Marketing Leader’s skillset to your business needs
    2. Look for high Emotional Intelligence
    3. Set clear expectations and timelines

Building a Foundation for Success

When companies need to hire a new Head of Marketing, it is crucial to improve executive and Board-level understanding of the essential role marketing plays in the success of B2B firms.

First, we have to clear up some of the confusion over the role.

Marketing is the engine for the client’s experience and the unseen passenger that travels with them on their journey.

Marketing is not a siloed department. It is integrated and embedded within your organization and it provides services that touch every aspect of the client’s journey. From their initial introduction to the company, to the website, to the mission and vision of the firm, and its client survey, to expansion of services and thought leadership tailored to them.

So why do many B2B companies keep marketing from the table when it is time to talk business strategy?

After your client service team, your Head of Marketing is the person closest to your clients. It is crucial to include them when defining your business strategy. They have insight to share on what topics and services your clients are most interested in and have the data to back it up.

Data analytics and artificial intelligence can mine your CRM and lead generation systems, providing a wealth of forward-looking information. Your marketing leader can analyze the data and provide your executive leaders and Board with critical, time-saving information for your business that can be incorporated into your strategy, leading to enhanced market position.

If you don’t have the technology or a marketing leader that can get you this information, read on.

Let’s begin with the Three Simple Hiring Steps:

1.  Marketers’ skills are strategic, tactical and creative. Finding a unicorn with all proficiencies is rare. Determine what kind of skills your organization needs – today – in your Marketing Leader.

Too often job descriptions for Heads of Marketing include a wish list of everything that a company wants to accomplish, leaving the rest of the C-suite to wonder why the person they hired can’t succeed. You need to start with creating a clear job description based on your business strategy.

What strategic aims are trying to accomplish over the next 5 years? Is it brand building? Revenue growth? Expansion of offices? Expansion of existing client services? This determines the type of marketer you hire – you need to couple the Marketing Leader’s capabilities to your organizational strategy and business needs. Trying to ask them to do everything is a recipe for disaster.

For simplicity, I grouped the marketing leaders into four major categories, highlighting a few pros and cons of each type. My next article will dive deeper into each of these categories and the kinds of marketing leaders you will find with traits of each.

2. Look for high Emotional Intelligence. Find a great marketing leader who can manage up to the executives and down to their team.

It’s critical that you and your executives “connect” and “speak the same language” as the marketing leader you want to hire and that your overall communication styles match. Make sure everyone involved understands what this role needs to accomplish and how they are going to interact and work with your leaders.

But, don’t forget about the marketing team itself. No one in your marketing department wants to work for a bully. Have your recruiter talk with people who worked with the marketing leader you are looking to hire.

Having the respect of those who work for your leader is important to getting the most out of your team members. I once had a boss who was sugar sweet to the executives, and when they left, would start yelling at us. Needless to say, no one wanted to be there, nor did they stay long.

A great marketing leader knows how to adapt their style to work with executives as well as with their team.

My mentor told me when I first became a manager, “Treat those you manage well. Teach them, challenge them, care about them as a person. If you do it well, they will work hard for you, make you look good, and not want to disappoint you. In the process, your team, you and the firm will end up doing well.”

I’ve lived by that. And as a result, had low turnover and have individuals follow me from job to job. Why? I care and I want them to learn how to be better marketers. This is a crucial quality to look for when hiring a marketing leader – if they lead, will anyone follow?

3.  Choosing the right marketing leader is important. Once you have, agree to a timeframe for implementing the new marketing strategy.

You hired the right person. Congratulations!

Now, don’t micromanage them. Let them be the expert you hired them to be. Agree to a marketing strategy that makes sense for your business, let them explain why it will work, and allow time for it to do so, with all stakeholders agreeing to the timeframe.

A lot of the future success of Marketing depends on the buy-in of the company’s leadership and their own willingness to play their role in being good brand ambassadors and business developers. Make sure you are supporting and backing your Head of Marketing so that they succeed.

 

It is not always easy to find a Head of Marketing. But by determining what your company’s business goals are, you can determine which kind of leader or mix of marketing leadership skills you need to thrive.