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What is a Head of Marketing?

As your business grows, you may decide to build a marketing team to drive expansion and revenue. This team is an important part of the organization, and should be treated as such. But when should you start building it, and which roles should be filled first? This is where hiring a head of marketing comes into play.

Organizations that want to build a communications team need to understand the importance of directorship in marketing. Not only is a head of marketing a driving force for your ROI, but they maintain the cohesiveness of your communications team as well.

Let’s take a deep dive into the world of marketing leadership.

Your Marketing Team Needs Leadership

There are a lot of moving parts in a creative team. Communication is a big field that covers lots of disciplines within the industry. If your brand has multiple content writers, marketers, and social media experts, you’ll need a driving force to bring them all together.

Balancing timelines, deadlines, and creative briefs, your head of marketing will keep everything running smoothly. They will drive creative content towards benchmarks and revenue goals, while simultaneously ensuring that all creative output is purpose-driven.

That’s the function of your head of marketing. Backed by years of experience, these team leaders have managed teams before, and have the portfolio to prove it. Marketing heads are fast acting, flexible under pressure, and able to keep tabs on all of your marketing activities.

Their responsibilities might include:

  • Creating a buyer’s journey or sales funnel on your site
  • Driving conversions by tracking the ROI of initiatives
  • Managing in-house and freelance workers
  • Writing content briefs or outlines
  • Brainstorming new initiatives

But how do you find a head of marketing, and when should you start looking for the person that will ultimately be the foundation of your marketing initiatives? Well, that depends on what you need.

Let’s cover some need-to-knows about hiring a head of marketing, including:

  • What is a head of marketing?
  • When should you hire a head of marketing?
  • Finding the right candidate
  • Where you go from here

What is a Head of Marketing?

A head of marketing is a senior role in the team. They often report directly to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or, in some companies, both roles are filled by the same person. It all comes down to what works best for your company and its structure.

A head of marketing can take a variety of roles around your company. They can create or oversee the creation of customer personas, monitor company messaging, evaluate market positioning, understand threats and opportunities, and manage the rest of your marketing team. Their role in your company is pivotal as they guide other marketers towards ultimate business goals.

Marketing heads have a unique relationship with hands-on marketing. While they may work on some creative output during their tenure, their primary task will be to coordinate the work of other marketers in your business, create and refine clear strategies, and establish indicators of success for your brand.

When reporting to senior management, heads of marketing collect statistics for marketing spend, ROI, and KPIs. There are several approaches your company might take:

  • The head of marketing establishes KPIs for the marketing team, which are then communicated to executives.
  • Senior management establishes an overall business strategy, which helps the marketing lead create a digital marketing strategy to achieve goals.
  • Both sides work together to establish metrics, budgets, and expectations.

Heads of marketing are leadership powerhouses. However, their place within the structure of your company will depend on its size, scope, and marketing capacity.

When Should You Hire a Head of Marketing?

Timing is critical for hiring a head of marketing. If your company is just starting to get established, you may still be small enough to use an internal role for managing strategy and communications. If your company has already found its footing, it may be time to start expanding towards full-time employees or a marketing head.

While there are no right or wrong decisions about timing per se, there are some metrics you can use to shape your decision. Three key questions should be asked when deciding to hire a head of marketing. Answer them as honestly as possible to set the best timeline (and budget) for your new employee.

Should My Marketing Head Be Hired Before Other Members of the Team?

If your business has a small or concise marketing team, a head of marketing may be the perfect fit for your company. This person may act more as a CMO and work alongside senior management to keep the department’s work in line with goals. If your marketing team is already well established, adding a new senior leader may still not be a bad idea. If a marketing team doesn’t exist at all, it would be good to hire a head of marketing as the first member of the team.

The bottom line: know thyself.

Should My Marketing Team Be Built Before the Sales Team?

Like many of the other considerations, this question is a matter of understanding your company’s needs. Ask yourself what department will drive more conversions (at this point in time) and sculpt your growth plan to invest in what matters. If you don’t already have a marketing or sales team in place, it might be beneficial to hold off on hiring any full-time personnel. Instead, you could rely on freelance work or an agency until your company is able to make the jump.

Does My Company Need A Head of Marketing?

The right time to hire a head of marketing is before your company needs to retain one. Although this date will be different for everyone, there may be a set of benchmarks you can follow that clarifies the timeline:

  • Your business revenue could accommodate a full time employee (as well as their benefits, training etc).
  • Your company is a SaaS or hardware-focused industry that relies on product launches.
  • Your internal departments are unable to execute marketing strategies on their own.
  • You’re looking to establish or build a marketing department.

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, your company may not be ready to hire a full-time head of marketing. Instead, consider using an agency of professional freelancers to get the job done right. Agencies like Draft.dev vet applicants to find the most qualified freelance writers possible. By focusing on quality, we help businesses craft a holistic approach to marketing team growth.

Finding the Right Candidate

If you’re going to spend money on a marketing head, you’ll want to make sure they fit the team well. Since this is the leader who will be in charge of your metrics and KPIs, they need to be skilled in their field and familiar with your industry.

Where To Find A Head Of Marketing

Start by asking friends, coworkers, and networks about marketers who may be interested in the role. Referred hires may be five times more effective than non-organic hires. These candidates cost less to hire, stay longer at their companies, and are more satisfied in their roles.

You could also post job applications online through companies like LinkedIn, Monster, or Indeed. Note that this will be far more time consuming. Every publicly posted job averages more than 250 applications, taking hours to screen, interview, and reject.

How To Interview Candidates

It’s best to have a face-to-face interview process with candidates, whether it’s in person or online. This gives you the opportunity to ask real questions and engage with your candidates on a different level than only communicating through email. Be sure to ask specific questions about their resume and work experience.

In a similar vein, look for candidates that have experience working in your industry. If they have industry experience but are newer to your specific vertical, that could be to your advantage. Different industry knowledge could provide a beneficial outlook to your processes and let your company try things your competitors can’t, don’t, or won’t.

Regardless of where they got their initial experience, your candidate should be able to transition into their role fairly easily. As you interview, be as open and transparent as possible. What will the role entail? What sort of expectations should the candidate have? What are your expectations for their success? Being open and upfront now will help identify the right choice.

Where You Go From Here

Your marketing team is going to need strong leadership. If hiring a head of marketing is the next step for you, start planning for change now. Make sure the timing is right, and always choose the right candidate even if it means prolonging the hiring process. Your bottom line will thank you, big time.

Marketing to technical decision makers? We’d love to talk with you. Learn more about Draft.dev and our marketing process by booking a discovery call.

Meagan Shelley

By Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA that specializes in content marketing, research, and SEO. If she's not helping people craft their own stories, she's working on some of her own. When she takes time to step away from the laptop, she enjoys hiking, farmer's markets, and occasional thru-hikes.