Marketing is a crucial part of any successful business, and having a strong Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) can make a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. However, hiring a CMO is no easy feat, as the role is multifaceted and requires a combination of strategic thinking, leadership, and creativity. In this blog post, we will explore what a CMO is, when to hire one, and the different approaches to hiring a CMO.

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What is a Chief Marketing Officer?

A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a senior executive responsible for leading a company’s marketing efforts. They are in charge of developing and executing marketing strategies that align with the company’s goals, brand, and target audience. The role encompasses a range of responsibilities, including market research, product development, pricing strategy, branding, and customer acquisition and retention. A CMO must possess strong leadership skills, as they must manage a team of marketers and collaborate with other departments, such as sales, product, and finance.

In today’s market, a salary of £150,000 to £300,000 would be expected at this level.

When should I hire a Chief Marketing Officer?

Hiring a CMO depends on a company’s needs and growth stage. If a company is in its early stages, a CMO may not be necessary, as the CEO may handle the marketing efforts. However, as a company grows and expands its offerings, a CMO becomes essential to ensure that the marketing strategies align with the company’s goals and vision. Additionally, if a company is experiencing stagnant growth, a CMO can provide fresh insights and strategies to jumpstart growth.

See below for some examples of when a scale-up business may want to consider hiring a CMO:

  • Expansion into new markets: If a scale-up business is planning to expand into new markets, it may need a CMO to help develop and execute marketing strategies that are tailored to the new markets. A CMO can help identify the target audience, understand the competition, and create messaging that resonates with the new market.
  • Launching new products or services: When a scale-up business is launching new products or services, a CMO can help develop the go-to-market strategy, pricing strategy, and messaging. They can also ensure that the new product or service aligns with the overall brand and target audience.
  • Need for brand differentiation: In a crowded market, a scale-up business may need a CMO to help differentiate its brand and stand out from the competition. A CMO can help develop a unique value proposition, messaging, and branding that resonates with the target audience and sets the business apart.
  • Improving customer acquisition and retention: A CMO can help a scale-up business improve customer acquisition and retention by developing and executing marketing strategies that attract and retain customers. They can help identify the target audience, develop messaging that resonates, and create marketing campaigns that drive engagement and loyalty.
  • Lack of marketing expertise: If a scale-up business lacks marketing expertise or has limited resources, a CMO can provide the leadership and expertise needed to develop and execute effective marketing strategies. They can also help build a marketing team and provide mentorship to junior marketing professionals.

Different approaches to hiring a CMO

Executive search firm

A specialist Marketing executive search recruitment agency can help a company find suitable candidates for the CMO role. The agency can leverage its network and expertise to identify candidates that match the company’s requirements. 

See below three reasons to use an executive search recruitment agency when hiring a CMO:

  • Access to a wider talent pool: A study by the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants found that executive search firms in the UK have an extensive network of contacts and a deep understanding of the market, which enables them to source candidates that are not actively seeking new opportunities. This can be particularly valuable when hiring a Chief Marketing Officer, as the best candidates are often already employed and may not be actively looking for a new role.
  • Improved retention rates: According to research by Harvard Business Review, executive search recruitment agencies can help to improve retention rates by identifying candidates who are a good fit for the role and the organisation. By taking the time to understand your business, your culture, and your goals, executive search firms can help you to find a Chief Marketing Officer who is aligned with your values and committed to staying with your business for the long term.

Read more about the benefits of engaging an executive search firm in our blog

Internal promotion

Is there someone within your existing marketing team that could step up to Chief Marketing Officer level? The advantages of this are clear; they already understand the business, the ways of working, the objectives, what marketing channels work and the results they provide.

In-house recruitment

A company may choose to handle the hiring process in-house. This approach can be cost-effective, and the company has full control over the hiring process. However, it can be time-consuming, and the company may not have access to a large pool of candidates.

In-house recruiters often make use of job boards to advertise the role, such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Reed, and CV Library. This does however, require individuals to actively seek out and apply for the role, and it can be time-consuming and costly to filter through unsuccessful or unqualified applicants.

Furthermore, based on our experience, advertising on job boards and waiting for great candidates to apply is unlikely to be a successful approach for C-level positions including Chief Marketing Officers.

To secure the top-notch candidates in the market, it’s necessary to search for both active and passive job seekers. This means exploring individuals who are currently employed by competitors and may not be actively seeking new job opportunities through job boards or other traditional channels.

Hybrid approach

A company may choose to use a combination of the above approaches to hire a CMO. For example, the company may promote an existing employee and also use a recruitment agency to identify external candidates. This approach can provide the best of both worlds but requires careful coordination between the different approaches.

What to ask a Chief Marketing Officer during interview 

Once you have shortlisted your CMO candidates, you must determine the interview format and questions that will be used to assess their competencies. Always refer back to the job description and identify the key areas that need to be explored during the interview. 

For instance, are you looking for a CMO who can reposition your brand, double the number of leads generated from your website, revamp your content plan, or oversee sales and commercial functions? If you are a start-up, you may also want to evaluate their experience and impact within this environment.

To assist you in this process, we have prepared a guide featuring over 30 Chief Marketing Officer interview questions. While this list is not exhaustive, it should help to get you started, and you can always add specific competency-based questions that align with your business’s unique needs.

CMO interview assessment

Asking CMO candidates to complete work-related tasks as part of the interview process can provide several benefits. It can help evaluate their problem-solving approach, practical skills and competencies, and fit with the company culture. It creates a more objective evaluation process by allowing you to compare candidates’ outputs against a standard. This approach can help eliminate biases and provide valuable insights into candidates’ potential impact on your business, enabling you to make a more informed hiring decision. We’ve come up with three examples of tasks that can be used alongside interviews to assess the competencies of a CMO candidate.

Develop a marketing strategy

Provide the candidate with a hypothetical business case and ask them to develop a marketing strategy that aligns with the business goals and target audience. This task can help evaluate the candidate’s ability to think strategically, understand the market, and develop a plan that can drive business growth.

Analyse marketing data

Provide the candidate with marketing data from your business and ask them to analyse it and provide insights and recommendations for improvement. This task can help evaluate the candidate’s ability to use data to make informed decisions, identify opportunities for optimisation, and drive continuous improvement.

Conduct a competitive analysis

Provide the candidate with a list of competitors and ask them to conduct a comprehensive analysis of their marketing strategies, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This task can help evaluate the candidate’s ability to conduct market research, identify competitive advantages, and develop strategies that can help the business stand out in a crowded market. Additionally, the candidate’s analysis should be able to highlight the areas where the business can capitalise on opportunities and differentiate from competitors.

If you are looking to hire a Chief Marketing Officer, Intelligent People are happy to help. Discover more about the CMO role and salary expectations in our guide, and contact us if you need help hiring for a Chief Marketing officer vacancy.

Further reading

Head Of Product Marketing