How do I Become a Director of Marketing?

A: Also known as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Marketing Director, Directors of Marketing oversee marketing activities at an organization. They manage the organization’s brand, communications (including but not limited to advertising, promotions and public relations), research, sales, product development, distribution, pricing, and customer service. They are often expected to report directly to their organizations Chief Executive Officer or equivalent position. This is executive as it comes, which requires the confidence, motivation, results and disposition associated with those positions. Marketing Directors are often on the level of Chief Human Resource Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and general counsel, among other top executives in a traditional corporate structure. Their juniors will likely include Senior Vice Presidents, Directors, and other senior marketing staff members. Directors of Marketing analyze market research and base pricing on that analysis, create new copy, promotional and advertising materials, and integrate different personnel to meet organizational goals.

Marketing Directors must be lightning quick in their thinking and ability to react to shifting circumstances within the organization. This is often accomplished through intense preparation, but also the ability to react to tragedy, opportunity and random occurrence. Has a company spokesman just been exposed as a malignant criminal? What is the organization’s next step? CMO’s need to know, and be ready to execute in a short period of time. Has Research and Development just hit on an incredible new product? What’s the best way to roll it out, and how long should it be perfected before it’s released to public consumption, especially considering the competition may be working on a similar project? Directors of Marketing inhale information, and have a detailed understanding of sectors of work as disparate as human resources, finance, production, IT, corporate communications, documentation, public relations, law, and much more. As the definition of a product has changed in a digital world, so has this position, in terms of added responsibility. Along with all that was previously mentioned, Marketing Directors are often now expected to oversee technology that consumers interact with daily, like mobile apps or other less tangible platforms that increasingly dominate consumption.

Proving that you can foster growth, sales and successful marketing strategy is paramount to Marketing Director opportunities. Writing copy, building marketing strategies. Most Marketing Directors hold at least a Bachelor degree in Marketing or a closely related field. They’ve often worked their way up from the ground level at marketing or advertising firms, schools, nonprofit organizations or in the marketing departments of large companies. If you want this job, you’ll probably have to do the same thing. Marketing Directors are the first person to work, and the last to leave. Even when they’re home they’re on the clock, and responsible for reacting to constant changes that can upend organizations or create unique opportunities for them. Despite this malleable landscape, Marketing Directors are responsible for setting and meeting important deadlines that can dictate a companies’ bottom line, or an organization’s ability to maintain or increase its presence in the world.

Most Marketing Directors have between five to eight years of relevant experience in addition to a Bachelor degree in Marketing, Business Administration or Communications. If you’re looking to join their ranks, expect to do the same. Depending on what organization or sector you’re looking to work in, you may consider sales experience. Knowing how people think, what they want and how to cut through the deluge of marketing materials that saturate their lives is central to success in these roles. Many Marketing Directors have significant sales experience, which you might consider as well.

In 2011 IBM conducted a global study of Marketing Directors that found customer loyalty was most important to them in the digital era, and the next most important focus of their jobs was to design successful tablet and mobile applications. If you can keep yourself focused on all that’s been discussed here, and have the education and experience to get into a Director of Marketing position, expect incredible rewards. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the median pay for “Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers” was $127,560 a year, or $61.33 per hour in 2016. They estimated there were 249,600 of these positions, and there would be a 9% growth in them between 2016-26, resulting in 23,600 new jobs. Remember, the Director of Marketing or CMO is above most managers in advertising or marketing, and are compensated appropriately. Expect less of these positions but higher pay than BLS calculated. You’ll need to love pressure and the needs and expectations of your organization and its staff. So if you’re ready to be a CMO, remember that the responsibility and rewards are equal to the mountain of work and experience you’ll need to do and earn in order to reach them.

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