How to Mitigate Your Risk in Hiring Your Next CMO or Senior Marketing Executive

marketing executive search agency

Say you needed to hire a new senior marketing executive for your business, and you need to do it fast. This is a pivotal moment for your business; choosing a top marketing leader with the right skills and leadership can completely transform your organization and drive better marketing ROI for years to come.

If you’re a marketing leader, you probably have an idea of the kind of person you need to bring in.

But what if you’re a CEO, President, Owner, Head of HR, or someone else without a close perspective on marketing? Do you know where to start?

Hiring a new marketing executive can be a complicated, risky venture; that’s a major reason why CMO turnover is so high. Without truly knowing how marketing has changed over the five years and the power of modern marketing team and what it can do for your business, it’s impossible to write an effective marketing executive job description, let alone confidently recruit the right person.

Fortunately, business leaders have a valuable resource that can minimize the risk of a weak hire: marketing executive search agencies. If you work with an executive search specialist who has actual, hands on marketing experience themselves, you’ll get access to critical perspective and experience that puts you in the best position to recruit a leader capable of growing your business.

Why It’s So Hard to Define the Right Marketing Executive for You

retained marketing executive search

Marketing has changed more in the past five years than it did in the previous fifty.  This has made it hard for top marketing executives to stay current and virtually impossible for non-marketing executives.  If you are not current on marketing, how do you hire top talent?

That’s the core of what makes describing a senior marketing position so difficult and finding someone to fill it so risky. Marketing is changing fast; how can someone outside of marketing know what to look for? There are so many hard questions to answer:

  • What are the primary KPIs for this role?
  • How can marketing strategy improve our business strategy and innovation?
  • What organizational change do we need to support the latest changes in marketing?
  • How strong of a change management executive do I need?
  • How much should I pay this marketing executive?
  • Is technical expertise or leadership ability more important for this job?
  • What marketing background would best equip a person to handle this responsibility?
  • What problems will this person need to fix?

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The Secret Weapon Business Leaders Have for Defining Marketing Leadership Roles

Need help describing your ideal marketing executive? There’s one valuable resource that often goes overlooked: retained executive search firms.

Of course, a top executive search firm can help you hire an executive. But they can also serve as a resource for explaining what a good marketing leader is capable of and evaluating the kind of person who would be best suited for your business. A top marketing executive search professional might even be willing to consult with you on this for free, without any additional obligation.

If you choose to work with a marketing executive search partner, make sure to look for these traits:

  • They’re specialized in marketing leadership. Marketing requires a practiced eye to spot and hire top talent. That can’t happen if your executive recruiter divides their time between marketing and other business disciplines.
  • To take it a step further, they should be former marketers themselves to really understand how to separate “A” players from everyone else.

Let the Experts Find the Experts

Finally, some silver lining.

You might not know much about what’s going on at the cutting edge of marketing. That’s okay–it’s not your responsibility (though hiring a strong marketing executive certainly is).

Most people in charge of running a business–even extremely successful executives–have little experience with marketing. For instance, take a look at this report on what background Fortune 100 CEOs come from. Marketing isn’t even close to the top of the list. Like many business problems, you just need a best-in-class partner to help you overcome an uncommon challenge.

fortune 100 marketing executive search agency

Image from N2Growth

These people are no doubt bright, driven, successful leaders. But you certainly wouldn’t expect someone with a career in Finance or Operations to understand how to measure and improve customer experience, or maximize the value of Search Engine Optimization, or develop a social media campaign that drives new sales.

However, you would hope that they’d have the wisdom to understand when they’re out of their element and know when to get help.

More Recommendations from the Top Retained Marketing Executive Search Firm

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