Digital Marketing

Hiring Your First Marketing Director

Steve Wolgemuth | Sep 13, 2016

There comes a time in any business’s growth trajectory when this question comes up:

Should we hire a marketing director?

If that’s you, start by recognizing you have several options to consider before adopting another child into your payroll family. For example, you might consider outsourcing.

Some businesses use sub-contracted marketing directors. These self-employed individuals typically manage the marketing of several businesses at a fraction of the cost of a full-time director.

Other agencies use an agency with a partnering model of service. Typically, an individual or small team within that agency will act as a business’s marketing director. The agency will oversee strategy and even bring in other marketing vendors and oversee their work for a business.

If you do decide to hire a marketing director, it is important to avoid these common mistakes:

Don’t hire a graphic designer.

Graphic designers are not the same thing as marketers. Also, you probably don’t need one on payroll if you’re a young business. Maybe never. Graphic design is easy to outsource. You need a manager, not an artist. If you have a good marketing director, they’ll have connections with graphic designers and will oversee those relationships. Don’t hire a graphic designer assuming they will lead your marketing efforts or grow your business simply based on their eye for design.

Don’t hire based on technical familiarity.

Yes, that college graduate knows Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat. That doesn’t make them a social media strategist. A good marketing director can help forge a strategy that will inform your use of social media and possibly oversee that intern to do some of the grunt work. Hiring a Marketing Director to post on social platforms is like hiring a Director of Sales to answer phones all day.

Don’t look for a jack-of-all-trades.

Understandably, you don’t have a large marketing team and you have a lot of needs, but your next hire isn’t a panacea. I’ve reviewed a job description already that included graphic design, branding, blogging, social media management, SEO, and coding. Seriously, why not just make them responsible for bookkeeping too? It’s ridiculous and unrealistic. Marketing requires a varied set of skills, each difficult in their own way. Many digital marketing skills are highly specialized and are changing fast. A good marketing director knows about these things, but won’t have deep expertise in more than one or two.

Marketing directors must, first and foremost, be good managers.

Your marketing manager must be able to oversee and leverage any number of human resources. They need to play well with your sales team. They need to understand the big picture and report progress to your leadership team. They need to be good at managing relationships and vendors.

Whether you choose to hire a marketing director or outsource that responsibility, remember that the most important quality you must look for is their ability to coordinate the efforts of all your marketing stakeholders, and report on marketing progress.