Recently I got a super cool search assignment – to recruit the VP of Brand Experience for Quickbase.
I see many signs pointing to a rise in roles like this, leading Brand Experience — especially in SaaS companies that are:
- Betting on product-led growth
- Realizing they have over-rotated on demand generation and that “today’s brand is tomorrow’s demand”
- Building communities with a pulse and purpose beyond the company’s products
- Exploring adding B2C marketing magic to the B2B playbook
- Graduating to a more holistic and mature view of marketing beyond scrapping for leads
So, if you are thinking about adding a brand experience executive to your team, read on for what this search was like.
As I dug in to the search with Quickbase’s CMO Eric Olson, I got more excited by his vision. A picture emerged for us of what made this particular role unique:
We plunked that graphic into the job spec, and also used it when reaching out to prospective candidates.
That picture — contrasting what the role was and what it wasn’t — ended up being helpful in a few ways:
- Clarifying the role definition
- Drawing in people who said, “Oh, that sounds like me!”
- Showcasing the power and heft of the marketing organization overall
We talked a lot in this search about whether the best fit was someone who was “more MFA” or “more MBA.”
We quickly identified a few key personas in our candidate set:
- The former agency executive
- The in-house creative director
- The ‘marketing athlete’ with some combination of spikes across comms/brand/content/creative
- The CMO who simply loves brand experience and wants to ‘major’ in that rather than be spread then shouldering all the other pieces of marketing
As we mapped the candidate market and considered our different segments, we faced questions like:
- Can the agency person switch successfully into an in-house role?
- Can the in-house creative director scale from being a lone wolf/creative genius to a team leader? Do they have the ‘altitude’ for the VP role, with the marketing strategy chops to inhabit a broader role?
- Does the marketing athlete have the right “combination of spikes” for the way this role is defined? Does it matter if they have done all the functions, as long as they are a strong leader? And… are they ready and wanting to be a CMO instead, putting them out of reach?
- Can the former CMO take off the CMO hat enough to happily inhabit the brand experience function, while leveraging their experience?
What we learned:
- That people with consumer and SMB backgrounds — as well as some knowledge of enterprise B2B — had particularly compelling experience for this role.
- That it’s important to distinguish between people who are really tilted towards communications (analyst relations, PR, corp comms) versus towards brand experience versus combining both.
And… drum roll… congrats to the hugely impressive Molly Sullivan who recently joined Quickbase as SVP of Brand Experience!