6 Key Traits to Look For in an Agency Marketing Director

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Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting




Being responsible for the marketing of your agency is no small job. Marketing managers translate the tenets of your brand into content. They manage or assist with new business presentations and creating proposals. They coordinate interviews and publicity for the agency. They own what your website says and how it says it. 

They are the gatekeepers of your image -- something you've built during many years of late nights and many tense client interactions. You need to protect it. 

So finding the right person to protect and further build your agency's brand is important. You need someone who can wear many different hats -- networker, writer, editor, client wrangler, analytics pro, designer, etc. And this person needs to be a reflection of your culture and buy into your core ideals. 

It's a lot to ask of someone, which means it is a difficult position to fill. It's also an important position. 


According to data from more than 300 agencies who use HubSpot, 33% of Platinum partners (those who bring in more than $15,000 in monthly recurring revenue) employ a person whose full-time job is marketing the agency and this person is also supported by other team members. The chart shows that as agencies grow in revenue -- and potentially in size -- they dedicate more and more resources to employing a person who maintains the brand.

We asked a few agency execs what they look for in a marketing director for their agency. Here's are six traits to consider:

Fresh Perspective

You need someone who is willing to dive in and take a look at your organization from a fresh perspective. Companies often get bogged down by their own marketing echo chambers. Their marketing directors try to replicate the competition and rely on 'industry benchmarks' that are at best, poorly sourced and from small sample sizes and at worst, utter fantasy. You need a director who is willing to take risks, break new ground, gain a deep recognition of your persona audiences, and test, test, test your tactics and campaigns. Too many marketing directors know what message they want to get out but not the messages their prospects want to hear.

- Ryan Nicolson | TSL

A Doer

You need someone that understands strategy and can execute. Ideas are great, but I’d rather have someone that can create a well-thought-out plan and deliver it. A box full of ideas is worthless -- I want execution.

- Spencer Powell | TMR Direct


One of the hallmarks of great leadership is the ability to know what you don’t know, and then to have the confidence to surround yourself with great people to mitigate that gap. This can also be called humility, and it’s an important trait for anyone in a director/leadership position to have. It allows you to leverage specialized knowledge and fosters better teamwork, and therefore, organizational efficiency improves. When looking for a marketing director, try to find someone who exemplifies this trait -- your team will be better for it!

- Jessica Pavoni | Creatrix Marketing

Organizational Skills

A great marketing director will possess tremendous organizational skills to be able to lead the client and the marketing team. They also must be extremely deadline oriented, a problem-solver, and decisive. This is why use and recommend DiSC testing during the recruiting process.

- Bill Faeth | Inbound Marketing Agents

Full-Stack Employee

The director of marketing really needs to wear a lot of hats. On any given day, they might need to be a strategist, writer, editor, analyst, technologist, project manager, business development rep ... the list goes on.

You need to look for candidates who are generalist to a certain degree. This is super important for startups and smaller marketing teams. Chris Messina recently wrote about the rise of the full-stack employee: 'These days, you’ve gotta be a real polymath to get ahead.'

- Jesse Mawhinney | Kula Partners

A Student of Industry

Above all else, any potential new marketing director for a digital agency must be a student of industry. This means that this person is continuously learning and consuming new information via alerts, articles, and certifications. The agency environment demands that creativity and trend setting flourish, and this must be something familiar and comfortable to a marketing director before management and leadership skills are even looked at.

- Marc Herschberger | Revenue River Marketing


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