In our 20+ years matching top marketing professionals with open job opportunities, we’ve found that most of them aren’t motivated primarily by money–other factors like growth potential, responsibilities, and who they get to work with tend to rank higher.
That said, elite marketers haven’t worked so hard through their careers to do it for free. If you want outstanding talent (and you should), you’re going to have to offer a competitive rate for it.
Demand for advanced marketing skillsets and proven experience in the field is at an all-time high, but the supply of qualified talent hasn’t kept up. And today’s top-performing marketers know their worth because they are capable of quantifying their results. These factors have led to a steady increase in compensation for top marketing talent.
It’s wise to want to have a fair offer to make for a great candidate in your marketing executive search. But you also don’t want to be in a position where you’re paying far more than necessary. With so much variation in marketing executive salaries and compensation over the last several years, how can you know where to begin?
Formulating an ideal compensation package for any given role can be tricky, but overall is not that difficult if you know where to look and approach it with the right help:
A Specialized Marketing Executive Search Agency
Depending on your business size, you probably don’t hire many marketing executives. Even the largest organizations with active brands and marketing departments wouldn’t typically expect to bring in more than a handful during a busy year. Some businesses may go years between recruiting for a senior marketing executive position.
With that low of a sample size, it’s difficult to really get a handle on up-to-date compensation benchmarks. But if you can find a resource that’s involved in marketing executive search on a daily basis, you can get a much clearer view.
An executive search firm that specializes in recruiting executives in marketing and related fields is a logical place to turn. There are plenty of executive recruiters out there who may place the occasional CMO or marketing VP, but the more generalized agencies will lack the data that comes with volume and a specialized focus that brings expertise. Seek out a firm that has been finding and placing marketing executives in a variety of fields, industries, and locations for many years to get the most accurate picture. You’ll be able to consult with them on what’s needed to attract top talent to your business, and they’ll make an obvious partner should you choose to work with a third-party recruitment agency.
Use the Marketing Executive Salary Calculator
Bonus and long-term incentive are typically a function of base salary, so if you have the right base salary range the rest of the picture falls into place pretty easily.
Fortunately, there’s a resource available to help get you started: the Marketing Executive Salary Calculator.
This interactive tool helps you determine a base salary range based on factors like location, company size, and job title for an A-player executive in that category. It’s a great way to get a starting point on what to expect, though you’ll still need to account for factors like your industry and the responsibilities of the role to narrow down to a
Salary Guides and Compensation Consultants
There is no shortage of marketing executive salary guides and compensation experts out there and like with everything else in business there are some good and some bad, so approach them with caution. The changing nature of marketing is leading to rapid changes in compensation, and even reputable resources can become quickly outdated.
Salary guides can vary in quality and accurate depending on who published them, what data they’re pulling from, and which jobs are listed. Additionally, salary guides tend to report on average salaries. And average salaries will attract average talent, not the high-performing A-players you need to stay ahead.
Similarly, compensation ‘experts’ have high variation in reliability. There are some great compensation consultants out there and some that are consistently under what the market is paying. If you do use the services of one of these third parties, do rigorous vetting to make sure you’re partnering with a reliable expert.
They might face a similar issue to ‘generalist’ executive search firms in that they usually don’t analyze and research accurate, modern marketing executive compensation standards with enough frequency to have an accurate methodology. Compensation consultants also tend to be quite expensive if you are asking for support one job at a time.