Looking for "Director of Marketing" Advice
Hi all- I would really appreciate some advice from senior-level marketers about a potential job offer. Looking for some insights on how to best prepare myself for the final round of interviews.
I have worked at the same company for the past 7 years, so this would be a shift to a smaller competitor who is looking to scale the business. I have 8 total years of Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing Experience, plus an MBA in marketing.
Now I have never been a director- only a marketing specialist turned marketing manager. So this would be a big leap, and the hiring company knows that. But they sought me out based on my experience, so I'm assuming it's okay that I have the level of experience I do.
After my interview with the owner I followed up with a 4 page marketing strategy where I outlined some initial steps I'd take (branding, new website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), budget, Paid ads, social media, and 3rd party suggestions for lead tracking or automation).
I think they're impressed but not sold on my abilities. I have another interview with a group of people on Thursday- it's the owner plus 2 people from a consultant company that he contracts for work.
My question is what would you be looking for from a marketing director specifically. I know that I'm not strong with data and analytics, but that could be outsourced. My skills are mainly content creation/SEO/blogging/sales support/ among a few others. Should I try to talk about Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s? Conversions? Landing pages? Metrics? Numbers?
Just curious what would stand out to you if you were hiring a director, and what could be a make or break factor for you. Also, are there any questions I should definitely be prepared for?
I'm trying to be confident in myself. But as a 31 year old woman, I have a bad case of imposter syndrome right now. Really want to boost my confidence and prepare for this next interview. Any and all info is appreciated.
Edit: THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK THE TIME TO RESPOND, YOU ARE AWESOME!
At the director level, I'd expect someone to be a strategist and people leader more than someone who executes. So I'm less interested in, like, what program they'd use to visualize our Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s and more interested in their thought process on what our KPIs should be and how they'd hold their team accountable to them.
But also keep in mind that they sought you out. They should be winning you over too: interviews are a two-way street.
And remember that titles are subjective, and if it's a smaller company, it's likely that a director title there is equivalent to a senior manager title at your current company. Between this and the fact that they reached out to you, you certainly have the qualifications.
Thanks for your response. I think it's important to mention that this company has had zero marketing presence til now. So I'd be the only one on the team to start.
Zero marketing presence! They need you way more than you need them.
Make sure you really want to go before you accept, and make sure they compensate you fairly. Standing up a marketing department is a big deal, and you should be paid appropriately for that. Do not accept a low ball offer beneath your worth.
Thank you, Olivia!!
In my mind a manager can execute marketing campaigns and tactics well when directed. A director of marketing should be able to conceive campaigns that tie back to corporate objects and revenue targets. He or she should be able to understand target audiences and create messaging that speaks to pain points of their audience. I also think directors should be able to explain and show impact of marketing spend, and be able to establish a framework for the spend (if I spend $x, I should be able to generate $y pipeline and $z revenue).
Outside of that, when entering an environment like this where there is no established marketing function, I think you'll want to ask them how you'll be supported, how much run rate you'll be given (ex. If your sales cycles are 4-6mo long, they can't expect to see results for several quarters etc.), your budgets, plans for additional headcount, etc. As others have said, you're interviewing them too.
This is excellent, thank you!! Definitely some questions that I will bring up. Good food for thought.
Sometimes Marketing Director at a small company is = to Marketing Manager at a larger company. So, know what you're getting into. With that said, focus on strategy, focus on organic traffic; if the company hasn't done much marketing they will be interested in conversions, Return of Investment (RoI)/Return on Advertising Spending (ROAS), probably building a Client Relationship Management (CRM), and tracking/measurement. I suggest you reference the changes that are happening/coming (Google sunsetting 3P cookies on Chrome, Apple iOS changes impacting consumer privacy and data collection, etc…) and how you have experience developing a future-proof plan. Create a little FOMO… it won't hurt.
This is great feedback. I will definitely touch on these subjects.. Thank you so much!
One thing I'd suggest, maybe as more of a confidence booster for them is projecting a hint of guidance and structure (since they haven't done this before), in the way of an example of deliverables.
in my last marketing job, I was the Director, and what it really came down to was three things:
(1.) They wanted me to own it. Not require a lot of hand-holding-obv, this is given for a director, just don't forget.
(2.) They wanted very much to justify my expense by quantifying whatever they could. The analytics weren't enough. They wanted a report every week of progress on things I was building out, traffic, conversions, but plainly how what I was doing was going towards this every week. As close to a sales-as-a-result figure as I could get-every week.
(3.) I was in bringing a system that they could understand. It wasn't shrouded behind any curtain. "This is the sales funnel; it starts here, which brings more this, would coat around x, which increases awareness, which makes "right place, right time" more likely, which brings, etc etc… They liked to know the "machine" was planned and not as unknown to you as it is to them. You get me. They didn't want to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords, or to know that Facebook changed a policy. They did want to know how I was going to increase sales directly or indirectly.
You'll definitely feel it out, but remember (especially for a small company), it's all about the numbers…the bottom line.
Maybe this helps. Maybe not. I don't work there anymore because my hours slowly transitioned into the technician, and I needed more man power under me to keep numbers going up-cost they didn't like.
FYI: 42 person architecture firm in midwest. 25million/year sales.
This is really great. Wow. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that. And I think you kind of hit the nail on the head for what kind of info I'm seeking out.
Would you mind answering another question for me? I'm wondering how you went about translating this information into financial numbers. Did you use a certain Client Relationship Management (CRM) (like Salesforce)? Outsource analytics? How did you paint that picture for them?
I've never had to prove numbers in my current position- I've only ever looked over the stats and metrics with my boss. He did crazy excel formulas to show website activity and lead-to-contract conversions.
Any tips on how to get started with this? Maybe too broad of a subject, but any insight would be helpful…
The position actually does require quite a bit of work to get established, but approaching things in layers, each enabling the next is a good approach.
We use Hubspot CRM. It is amazing, but even the free tier is pretty unbelievable.
The website was #1 source of sales for my company. Rebuilding that with the funnel in mind was massive. Submission forms and emails directly loading the funnel, page activity and tracking linked right in to the Client Relationship Management (CRM) or Google Analytics platform. It gave us places to link to and from for All socials-LinkedIn, Instagram, FB and Google Reviews were huge too.
After the site was then leading collaboration on campaigns; These were posts, ads and more with themes, time-sensitive or seasonal content etc.
This fed socials, and monthly email newsletters through mailchimp.
With advanced analytics, we could tell what people were (a.) looking at (b.) which social media posts, (c.) visiting site pages and (d.) clicking links in emails and all could easily count as warm leads for our sales person.
This led to the report of "44 prospects called, 12 introductory meets booked, 16 clients followed up with in some way, 1300 unique site page views, which came from $188 of Google ads, $45 FB/IG ads/boosts and 14 from the LinkedIn post about **x, y or z topic / series on 'what architects love/hate post pandemic," for example.
They *loved to get that report every week. That felt really really good and "worth it all" to them.
Plus, it was really fun to see a project That was the result of my efforts get landed.
Reading through your other comments and as someone in a similar role at medium sized business that's growing quickly I thought I'd add a bit.
At a director level I'm looking for someone to manage overall strategy. If I hired a director and found they spent all their time picking colours for the buttons on the contact us form or testing copy on FB ads I'd be worried.
Your role will be to set the Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s, set the strategy, set the tactics etc. Your role wouldn't (shouldn't) be to design PDFs or edit photos or tweak landing pages – that's for agencies or junior staff. You'll have to manage agencies and junior staff too.
Seeing as they reached out to you I'd think that you should be in the driving seat. You obviously need to show you're the right person for the job but they need to show that they are the right job for you. If the owner is standoffish and against the whole idea and being pushed into it by consultants/other staff then you need to work out if you're willing to work in an environment where the owner doesn't want you, value your input, or listen to you.
Either way they reached out to you. Treat this like a star athlete treats negotiations. When a team approaches a player they need to convince the player to join, the player doesn't beg the team to hire them by promising goals and points etc. Make sure it's right for you.
I followed up with a 4 page marketing strategy where I outlined some initial steps I'd take (branding, new website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), budget, Paid ads, social media, and 3rd party suggestions for lead tracking or automation).
I hate this. They shouldn't have you doing this. I know imposter syndrome sucks but you are very capable if they are reaching out for you. Back yourself, know your worth and get what you're worth.
Ugh I love your comment. Thanks for this. I felt very confident and knowledgeable when I spoke to the first guy (the one who sought me out) but I lost confidence in my interview with the owner. I just felt like his lack of marketing knowledge made it difficult for me to communicate my thoughts to him effectively, which is why I decided to follow up with that document.
I agree with everything you said and it really validates what I believe my role and responsibilities should be going into this.
My #1 rule is never work for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) that doesn't fundamentally understand the importance of Marketing driving the business. From brand through demand, marketing drives pipeline building outcomes.
A CEO that doesn't believe that or has zero experience supporting such initiatives is a hard no from me regardless of the compensation. It will inevitably translate into waffling the moment an effort has less than desirable results and that person will forever be micro-managed. You can also rest assured that this owner will never support the investment required to execute your plan successfully.
Thank you, you're absolutely right about that. This is something I will have to gauge from him. I think he believes in marketing, but doesn't have a strong background in it. I've been told by his employees that he is a very hands-off guy who doesn't like to micromanage. So that's promising
I'm self employed as an agency owner. I've dealt with companies with dedicated marketing staff and been in situations where it's understood that we are the company's marketing department. Take this for what it's worth:
It sounds as though from reading your post and follow up comments that you're potentially going into a situation where you're more or less starting at ground zero from a marketing standpoint.
This is an opportunity for you to establish frame in your employment. Since this position doesn't currently exist, you need the autonomy to go in and do what needs to be done without any red tape. Otherwise, it's going to be a source of constant frustration if you have to sing for your supper for everything you know needs to be done.
How many reportees will you have? Who will you report to? How's your rapport with the owner to this point in the process?
So you need to make sure they KNOW – not think or wonder but KNOW that with all the deficiencies in their marketing at this point in time, that they're going to need to be patient. This isn't going to happen overnight and progress will be incremental.
So rather than going in and trying to continue to impress them, it should be apparent to you that they don't know what they don't know. After all, if they understood the importance of all the things you've outlined, it would already be done by now and they wouldn't need you.
If I were an owner and were hiring for this position, I'd be asking about your management style, history of managing employees, etc. I'd be asking you about how you delegate responsibilities and how you hold your reportees accountable. I'd ask if you've ever had to fire an employee, and if you had to do it again how would you go about doing so. I might even ask you to 'fire me' right there in the interview just to see how you might handle a quasi-stressful situation.
Personally, I like people to have a similar management style to mine: I tell all team members the same thing – they might not report to me directly but the dynamic is the same. As a manager/supervisor/owner it's not my role to tell people what to do or how to do it. It's my job to make sure they understand what the end result needs to be, how what they produce fits into the machine and that they have all the resources necessary to get the job done. I look for people with whom my management style will resonate.
I also look for people who take 'extreme ownership'. For example, if a team member screws up, that's a failure of management (me). Either the team member wasn't provided the proper resources to execute properly, or they were simply the wrong team member to assign to that task. So I'd advise you to look for where the accountability falls.
I'm a big fan of 'interviewing the interviewer' but it's kind of an art form. In your spot, I'd start asking direct questions. Ask for examples of how an employee failed and how it was handled. You'll learn a lot about their thought process and what it will be like working with them. Try to frame the conversation as if you're not trying to impress them – but that they need to sell you on why you should leave your comfortable job for this new opportunity. Don't be arrogant about it – just be confident. There's nothing to be nervous about – they'll be lucky to have you and if they pass they pass. There'll be other opportunities.
Lastly, remember that zero minus zero is still zero. You're not out anything if this doesn't materialize. Sure it'll be disappointing but there'll be other opportunities and you can go back to your job as if nothing has happened. But even if you don't get this job, you're going to learn a ton in the process and as you reflect on it.
So it's time to go kill your prey. You got this!
Loving this response, right down to killing prey!
VP (former director & manager) here. I've seen a lot of 'Director' positions masquerading as a Chief, and also as a Specialist. There are some roles where they expect a true Director, where you do strategy, etc., and others where they expect you to be doing the tactics. It's important to determine which role they expect from you, and more importantly which role YOU want to be in. It sounds like you are better suited to be the strategist, despite the imposter syndrome (which, by the way is perfectly normal).
Speak to how you would build / outsource the team (and hold them accountable), speak to what you would do to drive growth and efficiencies. Try to figure out the goals of the organization ahead of time, and speak to how you will position your team to support the goals.
The point was also given that this is a two way agreement. When I interview people the questions they ask are almost more important that what I ask. Bring the heat and test them too.
Feel free to send a Direct Message (DM), I'm happy to provide any insights.
As mentioned by many people in this thread, a director is the odd person out who has time to be a strategist. A strategist finds possible solutions to wicked problems. Complex problems.
You have both technical experience and a MBA. Business and technology in the cauldron with people. The director trifecta.
You were hired to give your hiring manager more options than they have now. As an outsider, your vision is not clouded by internal politics and personal agendas.
Your hiring manager wants your third party vision to help navigate the difficult times.
So starting with the stated corporate goals and objectives, a snapshot of the current context and framework, start using the many strategy development tools to uncover possible options for steering the company in the direction of the desired outcome.
Your fate is tied to that of your hiring manager (or the committee). Make sure to get all the information (including the pressures put on the company from the board of directors).
If you will be working with members of the board, you might want to read "Strategic Doing." It is a very useful guide if you are to manage expectations for a group of misaligned decision makers.
Communication and engagement is going to be your top priority. There are probably some very polarized views and your input is expected to smooth things out.
One of the most interesting challenges in the business world. Herding cats in a disruptive market and fast changing technology.
The Chinese use to wish people who they disliked: "Maybe you live in interesting times!!
You may also like to read "The First Ninety Days."
Helps to make sure that you take care of politics while you're working on solving the wicked problems.
Regardless of the outcome, you will learn more taking this opportunity than any school could ever deliver.
As you suggest, I'd demonstrate your awareness of the metrics you describe and how you would improve these, but for the Boards of many businesses, their eyes glaze over unless you can ALSO relate their contribution to the metrics that REALLY matter.
More often than not, these are, how you can employ marketing tactics that could help increase:
– No. of Customers – How many you acquire AND retain (retention is a stable platform for growth that is so often overlooked)
– Purchase Frequency
– Average Order Value
Times the three values together and loosely speaking, it equates to the company's revenue. Providing the margins are set right, profit takes care of itself. Your job is then to work with the allocated budget to demonstrate marketing Return of Investment (RoI).
I would disagree with some of the negative comments about director-level roleholders involved in tactical delivery. How hands-on you could or should be depends on the scope of your role, available resources, budget, and your own individual skill-set. Especially in cash-strapped Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME)s, I've held director-level tenures (agency and client-side) in which I've devised marketing strategies and Google Tag Manager (GTM) plans, whilst performing web dev, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and content marketing. All were delivered in a fraction of the time of the 'to and fro' of briefing external agencies, delivered for a fraction of the cost and for a positive Return of Investment (RoI).
Not being strong with data and analytics is going to severely decrease your chances of being successful with a budget.
Leaders will always want to know why you're putting money into some channels instead of others. The only way you can intellectually answer that question is by looking into the data and analytics and observing what is/isn't profitably working.
I think you may be a little too inexperienced for this position, unless you've handled large budgets before. If you take this job, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Only you will know if you're equipped for a position like this, but I think you're going to be in way over your head. You have industry experience and your loyal, which the interviewing company likes, but I think you look way better on paper than what your experience tells. Again though, you know better than I do and I'm playing devil's advocate.
I could be wrong, but this is my $.02 about hiring people. If you get the job, it will certainly be a challenge to sink or swim.
I appreciate you playing devils advocate!
I think with the right Client Relationship Management (CRM) to analyze the pipeline and conversions, I can prove the budget. I've seen it done at my company and my boss has walked me through it every time. I am just saying my strong suit isn't data because I'm certainly no wizard like some experts are
Data is definitely something you will learn and improve upon interpreting over time as you're exposed to new ways of tracking profitability from efforts.
Keep in mind too that you will need to rely heavily on the sales team for your success with Business-to-Business (B2B). You may already know this of course, but I would suggest reading into ABM Marketing (account based marketing).
If you can better understand and articulate how everything you oversee has unified purpose and processes, that's probably more than half the battle for you getting this position.
Interdepartmental relationships are everything at the Director+ level.
Thank you! Great advice.
Wow, I have had a very similar experience, I'm just nine months into it. I accepted a marketing role for a company that had zero marketing. The company has been around 30 years and has established customers, just no presence… anywhere. Not even a website.
There was no job description, small team of 15 people, no one else knows anything about marketing. It was an exciting opportunity to create a strategy, grow my skills, grow the business.
While we've made progress, we're not where I want to be because of ownership/management issues, poor leadership, and many other things.
However, I am still glad I took the leap. I've grown more in the past few months than the past several years combined. It has opened new opportunities and I've adapted my role to fit myself and the company better.
If it looks like you'll have some freedom, I say go for it. Workers are in demand – you'll be able to find something else if this is not the right fit.
Hi Bargie! May I ask what industry your company is in? This is really optimistic feedback. It's nice to hear from someone in my shoes.
Your point about helping you to grow and giving you experience is how I'm trying to view this. There are some hesitations but overall could propel me forward in the long-run.
It's Business-to-Business (B2B) commercial furniture manufacturing and we only sell locally, no online sales.
I think that's a great way to look at it! You can't grow if you're not taking chances, right?
I'm now doing marketing for both the new company and my old one- one is a PT employee role, the other contract. It's better pay/hours for me and works well for both companies.
All jobs are different and there are a lot of factors, but a big difference for me going from a manager level to director level was execution vs. delegation and strategy. As a manager I DID a lot; as a director I DIRECT other doers a lot.
That doesn't mean I still don't create things — a huge portion of my day is spent writing and shooting photos, etc. But there's way more administration and coordination as a director and delegating the actual hands-on work to others to execute.
But again, all jobs are different, and it depends on the size and capabilities of your team.
Also, being a 31-year-old woman shouldn't impact your imposter syndrome; as a male in the field I can tell you the industry is DOMINATED by women, so you're not alone. I was in a webinar recently with approximately 95 marketing professionals and less than half a dozen were male.
Very true! Women do dominate the marketing world. In my industry though, a particular type of commercial construction, the executives are all older men. So to communicate to them in an authoritative way is what I find contributes to the imposter syndrome.
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