Why Finding The Right CMO Requires A Unique Strategy

Chief growth officer 2023

At Marketpro, approximately 40% of our organizational efforts involve placing Chief Marketing Officers, or Heads of Marketing. The specific title can vary depending on the size of the company, but it always represents the top marketing executive position. Interestingly, this role, whether titled CMO or otherwise, consistently has the shortest tenure among C-suite executives.

Why Does The Top Marketing Executive Usually Have The Shortest Tenure?

This situation arises because many hiring organizations or even executive search firms do not have a deep enough understanding of marketing, so when they use the same interview strategies as they do for other C-Suite roles, the process does not yield the same results.

When you look at your hiring process for a CMO, the question you need to ask is: Who is the marketing expert that will interview these individuals to make sure they are actually top talent and not just a marketer who is a good storyteller? We have found it is the processes without a marketing expert that fail more often than they succeed in a Chief Marketing Officer Executive Search. In fact, about four to five times a year, organizations reach out to us for help finding a top-level marketing executive after the initial company they hired failed to supply them with suitable candidates. We often speak with clients who worked with another executive search firm that successfully helped them procure other C-Suite talent, but when they sought help filling a top marketing position, that search firm was unable to find them the caliber of talent they were looking for.

Recently, I spoke with a potential new client, a $75 million software company that was built from the ground up and is run by its founders. Despite being profitable and in business for over 20 years with a great product and organization, they have not really embraced marketing at the level they need to. As I walked them through our process on a Zoom call, they asked about our expertise and the value we bring. So, I shared our story, and through our conversation, it was clear that both the Founder and President are extremely bright and talented and possess incredible business acumen, but neither has experience or a real understanding of what they need to be looking for in a C-Suite-level marketing executive.

While they understand that marketing is and should be seen as a revenue-generating operation, they don’t fully grasp how to ensure that a potential candidate has a deep understanding of lead and demand generation, account-based marketing, product-based marketing, branding, etc., which are crucial for driving leads that enable the sales force to grow revenue and ultimately promote the growth of the company.

Hiring A C-Suite Marketing Executive Requires A Different Level Of Expertise

Both executives acknowledged the importance of a strategic marketing plan and recognized that historically, their organization has under-invested in this area. This pattern is quite common, as very few CEOs have firsthand experience as chief marketing officers. This knowledge gap also goes beyond the CEO and extends to other department peers, such as the head of HR, and even executive search firms that are hired to fill critical roles. Whether the company is a $75 million software firm, a billion-dollar enterprise, or a well-known household brand, the absence of marketing expertise among key leadership positions is common and expected, as it is not meant to be their forte.

This is where MarketPro’s process stands out because every member of our team is not just familiar with marketing but is an expert in the field with extensive background and experience. We know exactly how to closely examine a candidate’s skill set to identify those adept at self-promotion vs. those with exceptional marketing abilities. By meticulously evaluating candidates, we ensure that only around 10-13 percent make it through for our clients’ consideration. We engage with 150 – 175 candidates per search and take 75 to 80 through a detailed deep-dive interview process. This allows us to make sure we are presenting only the top 7 to 9 to our client as a shortlist of A players.

The software company I was speaking with needs a marketing executive well-versed in account-based marketing since their clients are large global 2000 companies. This person must have a solid understanding of lead generation, demand generation, product marketing, sales force enablement, and more as they pilot a strategic marketing plan for this enterprise B2B software company. It’s a tall order to find someone with expertise in all these areas.

Seasoned Marketers Are The Best Qualifiers Of Marketing Talent

Finding the right candidate involves first knowing where to locate top marketing talent and then finding out how they reached their current level and what experience they have that qualifies them. Vetting a candidate involves knowing what questions to ask and having a solid grasp on the nuances of marketing to weigh their answers.

Executive marketing roles are significantly different from other C-Suite positions due to the industry’s constant evolution and the various channels involved. A marketer interviewing another marketer can discern between “marketer talk” and whether they produced real results in previous positions. To ask the right questions and evaluate the answers, you need to understand marketing and its numerous specialties.

Since C-suite executives and non-marketing-specific search firms often lack this knowledge, finding the right candidate becomes very difficult. This often results in either not finding a suitable candidate or hiring someone who doesn’t fit well, leading to the position needing to be filled again. Perpetuating the cycle of why CMOs tend to have the shortest tenure among all C-Suite roles.

Fortunately, the software company’s executives I was speaking with quickly grasped that searching for a CMO on their own was outside their area of expertise, and they needed to ensure that the process was handled by someone with expertise in this area to mitigate their risks against a bad hire.

MarketPro Can Quickly Find And Deliver The Top Candidates To Meet Your Needs

At MarketPro, our specialized process is designed to find top marketing talent that can help your organization grow and move forward. We forge long-term relationships with our clients and often hear feedback that the candidates we have placed with them have changed their perspective on marketing and have helped to take their program to new levels of growth.

Our exceptional track record speaks for itself, reflecting the high success rate of our placements. This success stems from our intimate understanding of marketing, gleaned from years of firsthand experience in these roles. We know how to identify and recruit the right candidates and facilitate the type of conversations that will result in securing the executive marketing talent needed to meet your organization’s needs.

When you need to find top-notch talent to fill an executive marketing role, trust MarketPro to deliver exactly what you are looking for the first time.