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How to Hire a Marketing Director

5 ways to hire a CMO for your startup (and stay within your budget!)

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Hiring a marketing director may be one of the most high-stakes hires you’ll make in your startup. This role comes with tons of expectations and requires a lot of experience, drive, and the perfect collision of skills. Plus, that payroll standard is steeper than your average hire.

However, hiring a marketing director can also be one of the biggest payoffs when done successfully! Is your startup ready to take that bet and hire a new marketing director, aka Chief Marketing Officer, aka CMO?!

Here are five startup hiring and interviewing tips for getting the right marketing director on board. 

#1: Determine if your startup is really ready for a marketing director  

A marketing director is a big step for any startup. They’ll be in charge of implementing your marketing vision and are the overall touchpoint for your entire marketing team.

A marketing director creates marketing plans, ensures objectives are met, performs analysis of both the competition and campaigns, and gets your startup to stay current with the ever-changing realm of marketing. The success of your marketing lies in their hands. In other words… choose wisely, and don’t jump the gun.   

First Round Review implores startups to consider the following questions to determine if bringing on an in-house marketer is the best move for your business:  

  • Are there multiple marketing desires that the founder can’t handle?  
  • Does your success depend on successful marketing campaigns and launches? 
  • Does the marketing budget make sense for a full-time hire? 
  • Do you have enough of a sales team to require full-time leadership? 
  • Do you have the time, willingness, and capacity to wait for the right person?  

If you are ready to hire a marketing director, your startup will benefit from having someone in-house and on the team. Why? They’ll know your startup inside and out, build campaigns that also boost your brand, and will up the founders and other executives to work on other aspects of the business.  

#2: Decide which gaps your CMO is going to fill for your team  

Take a good hard look at what falls within the realm of CMO or marketing director responsibilities, then analyze your company for which gaps must be filled. Hone in on what exactly you’re after.

Do you need more social media and content or engagement style work, or are you looking for something more sales-based? Make those decisions and solidify the job description, so you don’t run into a disconnect between candidates and the role.  If you need a hand, you can find our template for a marketing director job description on our site.

Another critical part to include in your job description and role will be the size of the team and the specific talents and skills needed. Aztek has broken the skills down into soft and hard or technical skills as follows:  

  • Soft skills: Strategic thinking, communication, analytical skills, and project management.  
  • Technical skills: Writing, SEO, digital marketing, email marketing, social media, PR, traditional advertising, and technology proficiency. 

Obviously, those are a lot of things to ask from a single person, so a startup review is essential to determine which to prioritize and which are a bonus.  

“What you need is to understand that great marketers generally have one of four ‘superpowers.’ The Marketing Superpowers are: Performance marketing, corporate marketing, product marketing, [and] creative/brand marketing.” — Viviana Faga, Emergence 

#3: Figure out the right compensation 


Once you’ve determined exactly what your marketing director’s role will be, you also need to figure out the right compensation for that role. Typically, this is done by  

  • evaluating the role, skill, and experience requirements; 
  • comparing the current market rate for an idea of what your candidate might expect; and
  • figuring out what works with your startup’s budget. also offered this startup hiring tip: Don’t underestimate the power of providing benefits. As we pointed out in our article on hiring Gen Z-ers, traditional benefits go a long way, even in the modern world.

Find out what makes your startup unique and an enticing place to work in to give yourself a competitive edge. 

#4: Perfect your hiring process and interviewing strategy   

Now that you’ve figured out all the pieces, it’s time to put them together! If you’ve read our other articles, you know what we’ll say next: Build a candidate persona.**

Building a candidate persona will let you take all those pieces from above and put them into creating your company’s dream candidate. Then, when you start looking, you can fill in those in-person quirks and details that bring that paper candidate to life.  

Your candidate persona will also give you hints about where to find that talent. Are they established in their career or very experienced? Maybe you’re looking at LinkedIn. Do you need someone fresh who is willing to do the grunt work of engagement and branding?   

**If you’re having a hard time with the candidate persona step or figuring out where to start the hunt, a recruitment company like us at Pivot + Edge can be the best way to go. We can help you build the candidate persona, implement it, and capitalize on our resources to bring you the right fit right away. Think you’re ready? Reach out to us today.  

 #5: Close quickly on the right person 


Once your recruitment strategy, hard work, and patience have paid off and you’ve discovered the right candidate, you need to act quickly with that offer letter. Over 50% of job contenders lose interest in a role if it takes too long to hear back after an interview. 

It’s a competitive market, so we have a list of closing essentials to ensure you don’t slip and lose your lead to another company! 

You might be feeling a bit of pressure with the high stakes… that’s where we can help. If hiring a marketing director creates more fear than excitement, give us a shout! We have talented team members who can help you make the right CMO hire for your startup.  

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