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“How do I hire a Marketing Director?”

“How do I train them?”

“What do I feed it?”

Ok – I might not get the last question but it seems to fit with the myriad of questions I often receive around the topic.

About 6 months ago, a frustrated lawyer called me from his international vacation home because he had fired yet another marketing director. It was his 2nd or 3rd in the last few years, and he was exhausted. Every time his marketing person started to gain traction, something would happen – the director would quit, get fired for not getting “it”, get a better-paying position, etc. Because of how many attorneys ask me “how do I hire a marketing director” I assume a substantial percentage deal with the feat of hiring and keeping a chief marketing officer.

Like I did with my new frustrated friend, I always give advice when asked how to hire my marketing peers. “Find them here. Train them with these tools. Pay them this much.”

While I have hired dozens of marketing staff, I have never hired a person to lead a marketing department. I do, however work for Mr. Jim Hurley – founding partner, visionary, and master of hiring of chief marketing officers (note: I am the only CMO he has ever hired).

In an effort to help my attorney friends hire and keep their next marketing hire, Jim and I sat down to discuss the matter. Below is recap of the conversation we had. I am sure you will both learn and share a few laughs with us.

  1. What should you do to prepare for a marketing director?

Jim: Be prepared to train your new marketing person. It does not matter how much experience they have; they need to be taught your firms culture and legal marketing. This training will take at least a year and will extend throughout the marketer’s career.

My thoughts on this: Please. I have seen exceptional marketers leave positions or be fired because they did not market how the business owner wanted them to. Those same marketers were granted little access to managing partners and decided to do what they thought was best. For big-picture thinkers, like your marketing director should be, we need to know and understand your “why”.

  1. At what revenue level do you need in house marketer?

Jim: Every level needs a marketer. If you are smaller hire someone part-time.

My thoughts: Agreed.

  1. What characteristics make up a good marketer?

Jim: A good marketer has the ability to understand what it is that you do. They need to actually care about your business and have the ability to coordinate external and internal resources.

My thoughts: I will add the person needs to be a big-picture thinker. It’s easy for creatives to get caught up in a project that we created. A great marketer has the ability stop and analyze if that project/campaign/design is actually a good fit for the organization or just something we like. If you are more technical, many business owners use the DISC test to assess if a new hire is a good fit for the position. Marketing leaders are high influencers and secondary in dominance.

  1. In my interview, you mentioned that you wanted someone who had an entrepreneurial spirit. Why?

Jim: I wanted my CMO to understand business. More importantly, I wanted them to want and understand how to grow a business.

My thoughts: I have to admit- this was genius. I am driven by revenue and business growth 1,000 times more than the success of a campaign.

  1. What is the biggest hurdle of working with a creative?

Jim: Their personalities are very different from lawyers. They may not be well organized and they always have 10,000 great ideas. I look at things from an analytical perspective and Cassie looks at it through a creative perspective. You have to learn to listen to them.

My thoughts: Many marketers see the world through rose-colored glasses and lawyers…do not. We believe every campaign will work while my esquire friends will find 100 reasons it will not. Learning to meet in the middle is imperative to a good relationship and fruitful marketing.

  1. Once you hire a CMO, what additional resources are needed?

Jim:  Budget. A marketer cannot market without money. At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, our budget is about 20% of our gross revenue from the previous year.

My thoughts: Budget is imperative.

  1. What type of environment does a marketer thrive in?

Jim: Give your marketer freedom. Allow them to make 90% of the decisions. Spend time with your marketer. The better a relationship the easier it is for you to provide guidance and your marketer to receive it.

My thoughts: We need creative freedom, validation, criticism and a good relationship with our boss. That’s not too much to ask.

Jim’s final words of advice: It is very difficult to find someone to lead your marketing efforts. Don’t let that stop you. Just know that it will take time and effort.

I hope our insight has been helpful to you. Both hiring and training a successful marketer is worth all of the effort you put into it.