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So you want to hire a marketing director? Best Practices to make your marketing hire succeed.(Part 2)

August 23, 2010

By Sarah Johnson

You have finally decided to hire a marketing director. Now what?

Like many firms, you may have plenty of experience finding great technical talent, but you don’t know how to begin searching for a marketing professional. You aren’t alone. Once you have decided to hire a marketing professional, your work just begins. The process and resources you use to find your first marketing director can significantly impact your chances of success.

So, how do you avoid a potentially costly hiring mistake? It comes down to three things- know what you need, where to find the right person and when to ask for help.

What do you need?
 Similar to a technical professional  role, marketing responsibilities can encompass any number of tasks from graphic design and event planning to copywriting, strategy, sales opportunity management and more. For someone unfamiliar with marketing, these all might seem like the same thing. However, the responsibilities all require different skill sets and experience. As part one in our series recommends, you need to clearly define your expectations and the responsibilities for this role. These should be as specific as possible.

When you are developing and defining your expectations consider the level of experience you need. If this is your first marketing hire and you have never done any marketing and are a small or local firm, a more junior marketing professional with limited responsibilities to may be an ideal fit. However, if you have used consultants in the past or even had former marketing professionals you may be ready for someone with more experience that can bring you proactive ideas and tell you want you need to do, vs. be told what to do.  

Finally, don’t forget the cultural fit.  It’s important to consider what type of person will best succeed in your environment and work well with your partners and staff members.

Where to find the right person?
Now that you know what you need, you need to know where to find them. Depending on where you are located, you may have several options available to you. Each resources has its pros and cons, but ultimately all of them should help lead you in the right direction. Here is a quick snapshot of some of the tops tools.   

There are many specialized marketing associations that have job boards you can post open positions to reach a large number of targeted candidates. Furthermore, most associations regularly promote their job postings. Members are aware of this and those that are in the market will regularly check the job board. The top three professional services marketing associations include the Association for Accounting Marketing, the Legal Marketing Association and the Society for Marketing Professional Services.

Leverage Your Network
Reaching out to your personal network letting them know you are searching for a marketing professional is a great way to spread the word. If you or your company is an active user of Facebook or LinkedIn, you will want to use these networks to spread the word as well. For example, you could send a message to your connections or posting an announcement on your wall.

Local Marketing Groups
Many of the national associations have local chapters in major metropolitan areas. If you live in one of these areas, you should reach out to the chapters. Many of them have regular meetings, email newsletters or websites that allow them to post open positions. If you are located in a smaller metropolitan area, you will want to look for local marketing groups that have formed themselves. These are often hybrid groups and include marketers with lots of different industry backgrounds. Two examples of groups like this would be the New Jersey Professional Services Marketing Group and the Marketing Directors Support Group.

When to hire a recruiter
“Going it alone” on a search can be inexpensive, but in some instances, hiring an outside professional can be valuable.When should you consider this?

1.    You aren’t getting the type of candidates you need. Often times firms struggle to gain access to the people they need by simply posting open positions. Unfortunately, firms aren’t comfortable or may not have the time to reach out to potential candidates directly  especially if the candidate works for a competitor. Having a recruiter represent you  who has a much larger network and reach will allow you to see more candidates.
2.    Timing is important and you don’t have the resources to dedicate. Recruiters spend time doing a lot of legwork for you. A good recruiter will thoroughly screen candidates and pre-qualify candidates so that received a small handful of qualified candidates rather than a stack of poor quality resumes.
3.    You are searching for senior level marketing or business development professional. Searching for senior level positions like a chief marketing officer or a business development executive adds a layer of complexity. Experience, approach, management style and leadership traits are all important. Furthermore, the process for hiring these professionals and negotiating their compensation often becomes more complex. A recruiter can help you navigate these waters effectively.

Most recruiters charge either based on a contingency fee or retainer fee. If you are looking for a recruiter you will want to make sure and discuss fees, experience in your profession and their process for pre-qualifying candidates.

Sarah Johnson is the Director of Marketing Consulting Services for PDI Global and works exclusively with CPA, law, and financial services firms across the country to help them grow more effectively. When she’s not working, Sarah spends time cooking and completing triathlons. Sarah can be reached at or 312-245-1681.

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