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Uncovering the right Marketing Director: How to attract and secure senior leadership talent


Marketing budgets in the UK are on the rise, driven predominantly by 35 consecutive quarters of internet budget growth, according the IPA’s latest Bellweather report. Today’s senior marketing professionals need to have the experience and strategic intelligence to make the most of new and emerging technologies whilst also delivering on marketing and business objectives. In order to prepare for future challenges, businesses must focus on securing the right boardroom-level hires to propel their marketing – and overall business – strategies forward.

The role of the Marketing Director is no longer simply about brand or reach or digital. It’s about recruiting a marketing professional that can articulate the vision of the company to employees and take them on journey which will ultimately be better for your customers.

A Marketing Director is responsible for the strategic direction of all your communications. The best ones understand the need to be hands on as well as managing large budgets The right candidate will understand your customers and have the ability to dial up your strengths and spot your weaknesses. They must be commercially minded, boost sales and work collaboratively with the C-suite. A bad recruitment decision at Marketing Director level can not only see you lose resources in terms of recruitment spend and time, but also threaten sales, affect your business growth in competitive markets and see a loss of contact with customers.

Take a look at our top tips on hiring the right senior marketing member first time around.


Decide exactly what you need

Identify whether you need a Marketing Director or a Head of Marketing. There are crucial differences between these roles, with everything from budget and key objectives through to salary determining the types of candidates who will add the most value.

Your marketing budget is a key factor in determining the level of expertise you need on your team. Assess what your budget is currently - and what it could be - what proportion of your overall spend this comprises and what message that sends to senior marketing candidates. Recent figures suggest an overall growth rate for UK marketing budgets in Q2 2018, giving Marketing Directors more to work with. This means organisations with extremely restricted budgets may struggle to compete to secure the best marketing talent.

The size of your team, and the long-term potential for high-level, strategic work will also impact a Marketing Director’s decision to join your business. If you can’t offer a sustainable pipeline of engaging work for a permanent team member, it may be better to engage senior and strategic marketing professionals on a contract basis. An alternative option is to hire someone at a less senior level than a Marketing Director in order to manage expectations and maintain interest, like a Head of Marketing.

For more clarity on the level of hire you need, talking to a recruitment expert will help. Utilise their expert insights and industry knowledge to define your needs and build a recruitment strategy that will result in the right hire.


Define the role

Agree upon the parameters of the role with your internal stakeholders and ensure these are well-defined in your job description. Considerations include base level of experience – including experience relevant to your specific industry – proficiency with marketing tools and technologies, management skills and results in previous roles. A Marketing Director will want to know what their core responsibilities will be, how their performance will be measured, how much interaction they will have with your C-suite and therefore how much potential they have to impact and influence your overall business.


Decide the best way to search

How are you going to source your Marketing Director? You will likely require additional assistance to recruit the best talent.

A marketing recruitment consultancy can ease the pressure of attracting and securing market-leading candidates, particularly those industry professionals who aren’t actively looking for new roles. Passive candidates – who can be swayed to take up new career opportunities if incentivised - make up 70% of the global workforce. Recruitment agencies are uniquely positioned to find these candidates, using their database, social channels and connections, to compile a list of people best suited to the job. Not only does it save you time, it also means you can reach more people. Indeed, our recent salary survey found that 32% of CMOs and Directors found their last role via a recruitment consultancy or headhunter, and we expect to see this trend continue as timescales become tighter and executive candidates become harder to source.


Look for collaborative advantage

Liaising with key stakeholders is an essential part of any Marketing Director’s job. As such, any candidate you consider needs to have demonstrable leadership and communication skills, as well as a fundamental understanding of core business objectives and how their department can influence these. Indeed, our interview with Paul Skinner discusses the importance of Collaborative Advantage for marketing leaders today.A good Marketing Director can build strong relationships that propel the business- and the marketing department- forward, helping to mitigate risk and align business goals within the C-suite. Yet while 85% of HR and business leaders say a team-based, cross-disciplinary work approach across the C-suite is important or very important, 73% say their executives do not regularly collaborate.

A recruitment professional can help to establish a candidate’s personality, cultural fit and ability to work collaboratively at all business levels, getting to know potential hires before providing a list of best-fit candidates for your role.


Be realistic and decisive

Recruitment for high-level positions presents a myriad of difficulties, with organisations understandably wanting to take their time to find the right candidate for the job. However, lengthy, over-thorough recruitment approaches can do more harm than good, with applicants likely to look elsewhere if they are left waiting too long. The average time-to-hire in the UK is 28.6 days, with 49% of all UK job vacancies unfilled after 30 days – and a worrying 27% still unfilled after three months. Such lengthy recruitment processes not only cost your business valuable resources, but also the market’s top talent, who are in high demand by employers. If your role seems impossible to recruit for, review your hiring criteria and consider relaxing your essential requirements to avoid missing out on strong candidates.


Hire for success with EMR

At EMR, we’re proud to match the best opportunities with the top marketing candidates. With over 20 years’ industry experience, we’ve developed lasting relationships with many of the UK’s leading brands. >Find out more about how we recruit senior marketers here.

Browse our 2018 Salary and Market Report for more industry insights- or submit a vacancy for your own Marketing Director job vacancy to our team of expert recruitment consultants.

Contribute to 2019's report by completing our Market Trend & Salary Survey. Over 200 marketing directors did so last year; join them and make our next report the most insightful yet. Complete the survey here. 

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