Hiring a Director of Marketing: A Recruiter’s Guide

by Rob Rutkowski on February 7, 2012

Great marketers are rare. And even great marketers can only do so much...

You’ve been handed a placement: Marketing Director.

If you’re like most recruiters, you will look for something like these qualifications:

You’ll insist on a Marketing MBA.  Big mistake (mostly). Most marketing MBA’s aren’t worth a fraction of what they cost. (How much? The 2012 Wharton Executive MBA is $179,000.)

But let’s be honest, Mr. or Ms. Recruiter: you are not getting University of Pennsylvania/Wharton grads anyway. You are getting University of Phoenix/Online grads.

And here’s what is taught in B level B-school: tactics.  Data analysis.  Outdated software.  Tired business models.

Which brings us to Mistake Number Two:

You’ll look for Marketing Directors from other companies.  This is a dilemma.  You want candidates that get hired, because that is how you are paid.  I understand.  Here’s the problem.  Show me 10 classically trained marketers and I’ll show you 10 people who couldn’t sell their way out of a box.

Because most marketers have never sold something, they have little regard for the second half of the transaction, the sales engagement.  The closest they’ll get is ‘lead generation’ on their resume, but that’s an oil filter without a car.

See, marketing is nothing more than selling in print.  Selling.  In.  Print.  (Don’t get all high and mighty on me about the word “print”, unless you go through life never using words.)

As a recruiter placing a Director of Marketing, you must know the following:

Marketing is about saying the right things.  Not clever things (although that helps); the right things.

And how does one figure that out?  Sadly, I’ve met only four marketers in my career of 21 years that knew or know how to do this. (One of them is me.  Two passed away years ago.  The fourth is the ONLY person I would hire besides me.  None of us has an MBA.)

Look for copywriters is my advice.  And look for people who have carried and met a quota.

Forget Director of Marketing.  You need a Captain of Marketing.  Titanic references aside, a Captain of Marketing understands how to lead art directors, graphic artists, copywriters and production companies.  They know how to handle top executives.  They know when to shut up, when to whip, when to get out of the way and let their people surprise themselves.  They can manage (and beat) a budget, a deadline and a creative brief.

Politics and bad management slink off their backs.  Making, MAKING their prospect notice and act is all that matters to true Captain of Marketing.

Nothing else.  That’s who you put in front of your client.

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