The ROI of a small to medium size Software Company gets impacted more than anything by one factor. Hiring the right Marketing Leader. The reason is not even their ability to spend your money responsibly. It’s mostly about you spending money on the right hire, and making sure that person will survive their first 12 months with your company.
“Chief Marketing Officers”, have a scary reputation of crippling some startups. As a startup gets funded or has decided to invest in growth, they urgently need someone to lead this work. Fast.
While speed is not optional, it can come at a cost. You have alternatives like hiring a Fractional CMO. In this article, we focus on helping you hire your first Full time, W2, Marketing Leader.
Average CMO retention across industries in 2019 is at an all-time low of 43 months. For B2B SaaS Companies it’s safe to cut that number in half...This is not a great outlook for a strategic hire you are going to spend a lot of time, and potentially equity and growth capital on. And...
Marketing has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. At some companies, the marketing leader is considered a business partner. And sometimes the role is partly outsourced and has vendor status. Both versions, and many variations, can work, as long as you are deliberate about it.
Do you want your CMO to strategize short-term marketing initiatives to prove their worth? And how much time should they spend on building a foundation to benefit a company’s longer-term growth plans? Data-driven Marketing for example, is hard and takes time. Having someone built a foundation that can last, while also plucking the low hanging fruit to show results can be critical.
“Today’s customer-centric CMO role is exceptionally complex and requires the right balance of left as well as right-brain skills, and very importantly, a differentiated set of leadership competencies,” says Caren Fleit, senior client partner and leader of Korn Ferry’s Marketing Center of Expertise. “Chief Marketing Officers with this unique profile are in high demand and are often recruited to lead the next transformation.
Some CMO’s tell the CEO who’s hiring them that they’re not going to develop any new marketing strategy or create any new campaigns until the company has done the necessary groundwork on its positioning and its brand. We don’t believe you can wait with doing tactical execution, while we also agree that you need to build the rock-solid foundation as well.
“If one more CEO tells me he or she is looking for a "unicorn," I might scream. Today, the remit from the C-suite and board isn't doable. The job brief might be: "Disruptors with 20 years of mobile, five years of blockchain—and if they can tell a story, great." And oftentimes the jobs turn out to be vastly different than promised.” - An anonymous executive recruiter
Has the job scope of the CMO role become too broad? Some companies are splitting the role into a “Chief Commercial Officer” who also is responsible or Sales, and a “Chief Brand Officer”, or VP of Communication. This split between what sometimes is called “Growth Marketing” or Demand Generation, and “Corporate Marketing” (Brand, PR, Positioning) is not new. More and more organizations are splitting the role at the C-Suite level now.
A small- to midsize B2B SaaS company does not have the luxury to split the marketing role. Many can barely afford one VP of Marketing of the right caliber. It does mean however that you will have to optimize for one of these two. You have to pick between the art and the science and hire what’s most critical for you. Trying to get a mix usually leads to neither of those expectations being met.
What’s the essence of the job? You need an executive summary of the job's purpose. Why does the role exist? Here is an example for a small, B2B SaaS company:
“Own Marketing to drive demand for the company's products and services through brand awareness, conversion to qualified leads and helping loyal customers refer others.”
What outcomes do you expect the role to deliver? Ideally, pick your top 3-8.
Example Marketing Outcomes to define success for the role:
We use something called an ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) when doing Marketing for our Clients. We suggest that you do something similar for your Team Development, and create for example an Ideal Candidate Profile.
Using our ICP approach, we suggest you focus on creating your hiring criteria at two levels, Filters, and Signals. Filters are the requirements that you will use to remove anyone from your hiring pipeline whois just not going to fit. Signals are the indicators for more than fit. These are predictors of success and can help you prioritize candidates if you have multiple options.
Below examples can be used as either Filters or Signals, across multiple functional marketing areas.
What are the values that are important to your company culture? Here are a few to get started:
The following criteria are covering the functional areas of marketing. For small to midsize B2B SaaS Startups, the reality is that a Marketing Leader needs to be a “T-Shaped” Marketer who is proficient in most areas of Marketing while being able to go deep in some specific areas of focus. Your Marketing Leaders need to be able to do decent copywriting and understand how to use Marketing Automation tools. She needs to be comfortable with managing a marketing budget and dashboard, and also project managing a trade-show event. You will have to pick what’s most important to your business of course, and we think the below list can help with that.
Now that you’ve created your wish list, it’s time to see what you can afford.
Based on data from LinkedIn, Payscale, Glassdoor and our experiences hiring many Marketing Leaders for our clients, we found the following ranges of compensation. This blog gets you started, and has pay rate guidance for the cities that we have most of our clients in.
You know what and who you want, and you’re now educated on what the market will bear compensation wise. You are ready to start evaluating candidates. Consider three steps in your evaluation process:
Here are some examples to get you started.
Finally, here is a list of example job descriptions, including a great example from Foundation Labs. After establishing your criteria based on the earlier parts of this article, it should be pretty easy to turn these into a Job Description that matches your company template and culture.
The below are organized by the “stage” of maturity of your B2B SaaS Startup. At Kalungi we recognize the Start, Scale and Growth stages. More here or in this video about the SaaS Marketing Growth Stages.
You are the first Marketing Hire. There is no Marketing team, and you will lead the creation of both the foundation, and the success of marketing at our company.
As the Marketing Director, you will be responsible for defining and implementing our marketing and growth programs. You will be able to roll up your sleeves to get started and will have the resources to build a team, internally and externally, to help you execute on the strategy you develop.
You will work directly with our CEO and take full ownership of our online presence and customer acquisition programs. To be successful, you will already have experience building and running personalized inbound/outbound marketing campaigns to drive consistent sales revenue growth.
Finally, here is a great Medium post on hiring your first Startup Marketing Leader, and the team around them. Happy hiring!