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Client Advice

How to hire the right marketing director for your company

By Peter Wharton

Headhunting for a marketing director is a particular passion of mine as I had made my career working in this field before setting up my recruitment business.  

Any marketing director for any company obviously has to understand all marketing functions from traditional marketing - product management, events management, press relations, communications, channel marketing, demand generation, as well as digital marketing - social media, community management, content management, web sites SEO and so on. The list is endless!

Depending on the level of the complexity of the product or services a technical background can be important but obviously being able to identify the target end users and know how to communicate effectively to them is critical whatever the solution being marketed.  At the end of the day, they all have to consistently deliver outstanding work and impressive results and at a minimum make the numbers and so has to instinctively find and generate sales growth where others can't.


One criteria often over-looked though when hiring for a company is what are the different skill sets required if working for the HQ reporting to the CEO, or having responsibility for a region or country. These two roles require very different mindsets.


1. If the marketing director is going to report directly to the CEO then this person has to have a proven track record in building brands and defining strategy to meet the short and long term business objectives of the company. For my clients it will usually be an international role, so setting the strategy for global implementation.  The marketing director must be able to fly at 30’000 ft and see the bigger picture, moving the different pieces of the puzzle in place to define an integrated global long term and then shorter term plans. They will then need to be able to present to and obtain buy in for the plan from the rest of the executive team and possibly the board of directors too, and then manage his or her team to execute flawlessly globally.


2. If the marketing director is reporting into the regional VP with a dotted line into the CMO their strength has to lie in adapting global strategy into effective regional marketing plans.  They will need to have a specialist knowledge of their region, be able to localise the global positioning, messaging, and campaigns and execute very detailed marketing plans with precise key success factor and KPIs for their local markets. But most importantly they have to be happy with adopting and fine tuning the predefined global strategies otherwise they will be frustrated with the lack of creativity of not taking the lead and defining strategy. If they can’t work within these guidelines they will eventually become frustrated and leave, but worse for the company, not efficiently drive the local business to meet the revenue and margin goals. 


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