3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

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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.