Hiring Marketing Executives With Substance

If you’re a senior executive looking to add a key member to your marketing staff, but you’ve never hired marketing people before: buyer beware! Why do I say this? While there are a lot of talented marketing executives out there with an excellent repertoire of skills and experience, there also are marketing people who lack the substance, the training, the skill sets, and the understanding of marketing dynamics in order to really have a positive impact on your business.

What is the profile of an empty marketing suit? Well, typically it’s somebody who dresses well, is very polished, speaks nicely, and uses all the latest fancy buzzwords, but who has little/no track record of actual execution or success. This person is great at “wowing” a CEO through the interviewing process, but that’s about all they’re good at.

What you should be looking for is a marketing executive who’s got true substance and capabilities.

What I want to outline here are some of the key hiring criteria when you’re looking for a good marketing executive:

  • They should have outstanding quantitative training with a strong background in mathematics, which translates into being able to do budgeting, forecasting and tracking.
  • They should have proven analytical skills that are used to survey and analyze complex sets of data, do market segmentations, sizing, competitive analysis, etc.
  • hey should have strong strategic thinking skills and a strong grasp of marketing strategy, as evidenced by previous challenges they have faced and dealt with in their career.
  • They should have formal training in strategic marketing planning, product planning, new product development, etc.
  • They should understand the modern methods for marketing communications for both awareness building as well as lead generation. In particular, a marketing executive of today needs to have a very strong grasp of Internet marketing since that’s how so much of today’s successful marketing gets done.
  • A marketing executive needs to be able to lead. That means they have to have very strong collaborative and influencing skills, that can be brought to bear on setting a direction for an executive team. They also need to know how to instill good marketing discipline.


Today’s “best in class” companies are both market and customer driven. The marketing leader needs to be the voice of the customer and the marketplace as it relates to setting strategy on target markets, new product development, gross margins, sales channels, messaging, etc.  the list goes on.  Given this level of complexity in skills and experience, making a good hire can be a real challenge for the untrained eye. This is why bringing in a recruiter or executive search firm which specializes in marketing is so important for many firms who lack this expertise in-house.

If you are in the process of looking for a member of your marketing team, make sure that you follow a rigorous process to clearly understand what’s under the hood with the people who you are interviewing. If you don’t, and you end up with an empty marketing suit, it’ll cost you tremendous amounts of money, lost market share, and lost opportunity.

Can you afford that?

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