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You’re now in a world where innovation and change is no longer an option. Frankly, your organization needs an incredibly capable marketing leader, and you need one fast. Choosing a top marketing leader with the right skills can completely transform your organization and drive ROI in ways that weren’t possible before.

If you’re a marketing leader, you most likely know the kind of executive you need to bring in to push enterprise-wide change. But if you’re a CEO or other senior-level executive who has not previously worked in a marketing leadership, it can be quite difficult to truly understand what’s needed in a promising marketing leader.

Digital Marketing Executive Search – How Do You Know You Found the Right Leader?

According to experts, CMOs are in the C-suite for an average of 4 years – half of the tenure of CEOs. There’s a reason why the tenure of CMOs is the shortest in the C-suite. Through years of our own experience in marketing, we inherently know what it takes for marketing executives to succeed. Organizations who hire a marketing leader who fails to meet expectations and drive results can take years to recover.

As marketing executive recruiters, one of the most common challenges our clients need help with is how to strategically vet for candidates when choosing the right marketing executive. If you’re not a marketing expert yourself, doing so can seem somewhat of a daunting task. Without knowing how marketing has truly evolved over the past few years and the type of impact a strong marketing team has on your business, it’s challenging to conduct a successful marketing executive search to find the right person.

Fortunately, business leaders can use the support of a marketing executive search firm to minimize the risk of hiring a subpar marketing leader. If you work with recruiters who have a critical perspective and specialized marketing experience themselves, you’ll find that you are in the best position to recruit the right marketing leader for your business.

Here are some common mistakes we see non-marketing leaders make far too often when vetting and recruiting for marketers to lead their organizations:

Leaving Digital on the Back Burner

Your HR team may be excellent at hiring top talent but when it comes to digital, are they up to speed? Marketing has changed more within the past five years than it has in the past decade. This makes it extremely challenging for top marketing experts to keep up; much less those who aren’t even in the marketing space.

Non-marketing executives are working hard to be current in their field, which makes it virtually impossible for them to also understand what it takes for a candidate to succeed in areas of digital marketing, innovation or e-commerce. So while it might be possible for them to vet candidates at a high level for traditional marketing skills, the new world of digital is out of their comfort zone. Therefore, they don’t end up asking the necessary questions that accurately gauge the digital aptitude in candidates. This can lead to a major mis-hire.

How do you know if this person is going to take your organization through a transformation that takes your efforts to a new digital level? You don’t necessarily need digital eyes to assess how digitally-adept someone is, but there are certain questions that must be asked that reflect the changes that have occurred in marketing over the past years.

You must ask them about previous digital programs they’ve implemented and managed, the ROI they saw from those efforts, and other benefits their organization gained. Ask how they’ve utilized technology to move businesses forward, and the changes they’d make to your website within the first 30, 60 and 90 days based on what they’ve seen. This will help you understand the type of changes they see are important in digital, and how to make integrate such changes into your business.

Undervaluing Leadership Skills

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Leadership is more important now than ever in marketing. No matter how good of a marketer someone is, if they’re not a good leader – they’re going to fail. Not only will they fail to drive change in your marketing department, but cross-functionally across the organization.

Leadership that’s effective across the entire business is what you should expect from a top marketing executive. However, effective leadership doesn’t just come with the title. It is learned and crafted through extensive experience, and is demonstrated through those who are inherently capable of leading people toward success.

You must evaluate if candidates are able to build a vision for marketing, integrate digital and traditional marketing, and sequentially manage the organization through necessary changes. This will likely involve having to change the current org structure and the people who are working on the team (unless it’s been done in the past six months), and explaining all of these changes across the organization all while keeping morale up.

Asking your potential marketing executive hire questions around leadership and change management isn’t as difficult as vetting for their digital intelligence. However, figuring out the type of leadership challenges they’ve had and how they have pushed digital transformation with changes to the org structure in the past is just as important.

Underestimating Their Value

Even with the changes in digital and rise of demand for talent in the marketplace, we’re finding more and more organizations underestimate the cost of a great marketing executive. Many organizations are hiring for a position they’ve never hired before, particularly when it comes to hiring for digital roles like the Chief Experience Officer and VP of Digital. As a result, they undervalue the true cost of finding top talent to fill these roles.

Non-marketing leaders who are aware of the value of critical positions know the competition is high for A-level marketers and that the supply and demand curve is significantly disproportionate. However, we still see many business leaders fail to allocate enough spend toward finding the exact marketing leader they need.

Tying compensation to the results and value a cutting-edge marketing leader can add to your bottom-line is more important than restricting your talent pool with a strict budget. If you’re having trouble determining your budget on your next marketing leader, marketing executive recruiters can help you establish a logical cost that will ensure you get the exact talent your business needs.

Not Vetting for Culture Fit

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Often, organizations don’t intuitively vet for culture fit themselves. However, with any marketing executive search, we prioritize a huge focus on making sure candidates truly fit in with the culture of the organization. The culture of your company significantly determines the success of a leader, no matter how skilled of a marketer they are.

You must understand what your culture is, where you’ve been successful at it and where you’ve failed. When vetting for the right marketing leader, it’s crucial to ask questions that ensure their personality and values are aligned with the culture.

Failing to do so will result in a leader who isn’t able to drive company-wide change, much less take your marketing to a new level.

What to Look for in an Executive Search Partner

Closing Words

If you’re not a marketer and you want to hire top of the line leaders who will take your organization to its full potential, you must be aware of what it truly takes to succeed in marketing. You may not know much about what’s going on at the forefront of marketing, which is fine because it’s simply not your responsibility.

However, it is up to you to find the right marketing leader who can push digital transformation and take your marketing to new heights. Doing so (successfully) may require using the resource of an experienced marketing executive search firm who has a practiced eye in spotting top marketing talent to specifically meet your organization’s needs.

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