August 1, 2022 | Role Specific Hiring Tips

Three Keys to Hiring Your Next VP of Marketing

The VP of Marketing is a notoriously difficult hire for organizations to make, but remains a critically important one.

A Functionally-New Discipline

B2B Marketing has become much more consumer-oriented, content-focused, data-driven, and growth-led over the past decade. As a result, only a limited talent pool has significant experience in this functionally-new discipline. Marketing teams also tend to be smaller and highly-specialized. This further limits the number of people who have broad experience across marketing domains. There are more organizations searching for a VP of Marketing than there are qualified candidates. Here are the top three things to consider when hiring your next VP of Marketing:

1. Determine the Domains of the Role

Marketing is a broad field. It includes the domains of brand marketing, product marketing, and demand generation. No candidate will be exceptional in all of these domains, but your organization has specific marketing needs. The success of your new VP of Marketing will be measured by their ability to meet these organizational needs. When searching for your next VP of Marketing, determine the specific priorities of the role. Then, align stakeholders on these priorities. Determine if you are hiring a brand marketer, a product marketer, a demand generation marketer, or someone who can balance these. 



2. Balance the Domains of the Role

Many VP of Marketing roles require a balance of brand, product, and demand generation responsibilities. In this case, assign priority to these three domains. Then, determine how a successful candidate will balance the needs of the role. Finally, determine if you need a VP who is strongest in brand marketing, product marketing, or demand generation. 

People strong in brand marketing are ‘feeling’ people. They create effective communications that connect with and engage target audiences. People strong in product marketing are ‘feeling + fact’ people. They focus on how a product specifically solves a prospect’s pain points. People strong at demand generation are ‘facts + operational’ peope. They take the output from product marketing and deliver efforts that convert into leads or sales. They’re exceptional at lead qualification and can develop effective flows for lead nuturing. 

If you need to create a strong position in your target category, then you need a VP of Marketing who brings brand marketing expertise. On the other hand, if your organization needs help learning how to sell, determining product and market fit, and creating consumer case studies, then you need a VP with product marketing expertise. However, if your organization is competent at brand marketing and product marketing, then you may need a VP with elite expertise in demand generation. 



3. Determine Executive Team Fit

When hiring a VP of Marketing, consider their fit in the executive team. Unproductive friction is most dangerous is at the leadership level, and skill can’t overcome poor organizational fit. Generally, two relationships can go wrong. In order to be successful, your VP of Marketing needs to effectively fit with the CEO and the sales leader. 

A CEO wants one of three personalities in the VP of Marketing role. The CEO may want a driver. A driver is a VP who makes decisions autonomously and is accountable for those decisions. On the other hand, the CEO may want a navigator. A navigator is a trusted advisor who makes considerably fewer autonomous decisions than a driver. Finally, the CEO may want a passenger. A passenger makes very few autonomous decisions and focuses more on execution. When hiring a VP of Marketing, first determine if your organization needs a driver, a navigator, or a passenger. 

The relationship between the VP of Marketing and the VP of Sales is equally important to the success of an organization. Strained relationships between these leaders are common. With this in mind, hire a VP of Marketing with a history of healthy relationships with sales. However, this is undoubtedly a two way street. Your sales leader must do their part to foster healthy interactions with the VP of Marketing. 

Final Thoughts

Your VP of Marketing is one of the most important hires for your organization, so it’s critically important to place the right person in this role. In order to hire the right VP of Marketing, first align stakeholders on the domains of the role. Then, balance the domains of the role in accordance with organizational needs. Finally, determine how the right person will fit with the executive team. For more information on digital marketing leadership at the Vice President level, see the roles we fill

Posted by Mark Whitman

Mark Whitman is the founder of TeamBuilder Search. Mark’s mission is to help clients recruit the top five percent of digital marketing executives, taking great satisfaction in helping clients out-recruit their competition. In the process of fulfilling his mission, he takes great care to help digital marketing leaders elevate their careers. People say Mark owns a recruiting and staffing company. He says he owns a life improvement company. To learn more about Mark visit our Leadership page.
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