How to Find a CMO | Ep. #627

In episode #627, Eric and Neil discuss how you can find a CMO. Tune in to hear what you should be doing to grab your next successful CMO.


  • [00:27] Today’s Topic: How to Find a CMO
  • [00:33] They get hit up all the time for people looking to fill this position, but it is the hardest position to fill.
  • [00:55] Tap into referral networks.
  • [01:05] When Eric was hired at Treehouse, he was referred in.
  • [01:27] Don’t just hire a CMO, have someone prove in a lesser position that they can deliver results for you. Have people work their way up.
  • [02:55] Instead of having a CMO, just make the marketing department work together to guide the mission.
  • [03:41] Contingency firms whose focus is on hiring executives is another way to go.
  • [03:48] They will cost you a lot of money, but will deliver on the mission.
  • [04:34] Org structures are different now, so it changes how you can operate.
  • [04:38] To recap: referral networks work, contingency firms work, having NO CMO works.
  • [04:48] That’s it for today!
  • [04:50] Go to for a special marketing tool giveaway!

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The post How to Find a CMO | Ep. #627 appeared first on Marketing School Podcast.

Full Transcript of The Episode

Speaker 1: Get ready for your daily dose of marketing strategies and tactics from entrepreneurs with the guile and experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. You're listening to Marketing School with your instructors Neil Patel and Eric Siu.

Eric Siu: Welcome to another episode of Marketing School. I'm Eric Siu.

Neil Patel: And I'm Neil Patel.

Eric Siu: And today we're going to talk about how to find a CMO. So, here's the thing, both Neil and I get hit up all the time for people looking for CMO's, VP of marketing's, director of marketing's, and these are probably some of the toughest hires to find. I would argue it's harder to find than really good designers to developers, because the thing is you only need one of these usually to lead your marketing.
Now, in terms of how I go about finding them, I'm going to go ahead and kick this thing off, is it's easy to tap into referral networks. The people that you know, referrals are always easiest, right? So some of the people that I think, when I was hired to go work at Treehouse, it was actually because Neil knew someone that was over there, and that's how I got into it. It was a referral basically.
So referrals are always good, because people don't want to look bad, people want to make sure that they're delivering the goods, they want to almost hold ... They want to be kept to their word.
So referrals, that's number one, and then we'll start to go down the funnel.

Neil Patel: I have one simple way to find your CMO, don't hire one. I believe in the Mark Zuckerberg approach when it comes to hiring executives, go find someone, make them earn that spot. You can't just hire a CMO and be like "Yeah, you go crush my company and figure out how to make it grow and do an awesome job." They barely know anything about your business. I don't care if they work for the competitor.
Unless they can prove to you, with a lower title, that they're willing to do something, or they can show results and work their way up to it, don't give them the CMO. It's not just about the pay, you can pay them at the CMO level, but it's more so about the results. If they can't do it, they shouldn't get that title. IF they can do it, they deserve that title and they should get it.
I'm a big believer, you hire people, you make them earn it, and if they can earn it then of course compensate them whatever they deserve. But don't just go and say "I'm going to hire a CMO," and someone who's worked at another big competitor or a company, because what works for them may not work for you. Market conditions change, financial situations change. They could've been the first market mover, while you may have been the last one. All these things affect how well you're going to do, so just don't go and hire someone who thinks or promises the world, or thinks they can do whatever, and solve your marketing problem.
Instead, make them prove that they can grow your business. And once they prove that they can grow your business, sure, you can promote them to CMO, but the last food for thought that I have is, and this is question even to you Eric, do you even really need a CMO? Why not just make each person within their department run it? A lot of big companies out there, they don't have CMO's because each department's focus on growing. Marketing has changed to every part of your organization can participate in marketing, from engineering, to product, to design, et cetera.

Eric Siu: Yeah, so what Neil's talking about too, I'm assuming this is, if you like at Brain Balfour, he used to be the VP of growth over at HubSpot, and he has a couple of essays out there talking about how different growth teams are built up. So you have people who are involved in products, you have engineers as well. It's not just one CMO, the organization structure has changed in the modern day.
So that's something, check out his essays, it's really good about growth teams. The other thing I'll say is if you really have to, if you're a big company listening to this right now, contingency based firms that just focus on executives, those can help you find the right people. You're going to pay a pretty big buck though, we're talking 20%, maybe even more sometimes, of salaries.
So sometimes CMO's are making 2, 3, maybe even up to 400 grand depending on the size of the company.

Neil Patel: Yeah, and my big thing is you can use a recruiting firm, but if I'm going to put my money on something, and I think Eric's going to agree with me with this, don't hire a CMO. Just go get everyone within their department to integrate in marketing within in, and put one person in charge of within each department, of growing that part of the funnel. You don't need one person who's called a CMO, that title, that job role, I don't think it's as useful as it used to be years ago, because marketing used to be one separate department, and they would go do the marketing campaigns, and now people have learnt hey, it's competitive, every part within a company can also help with marketing.

Eric Siu: Yeah, so to recap, I mean there's different work structures now. You can go out, you can use a recruiting firm, executive search firm, and you can go ask for referrals too. You can do the networking gig too, that's how you can find these really senior people. But I do agree, I think the structure of this is all changing, and, well, before we go, go get our marketing goodies at, and we'll see you tomorrow.

Speaker 1: This session of Marketing School has come to a close. Be sure to subscribe for more daily marketing strategies and tactics to help you find the success you've always dreamed of. And don't forget to rate and review so we can continue to bring you the best daily content possible. We'll see you in class tomorrow, right here on Marketing School.

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