Checklist to Simplify Titles: Marketing

As a startup focused recruitment firm, we are often tasked with recruiting first-time leadership hires - just as often we get the question, “what should I call them?” 

Our five-part Checklist to Simplify Titles series was created to simplify title selection for early-stage CEOs and/or Founders. We want to share our insights and cover the basics to help you determine which title you should choose when hiring a Sales, Product or Marketing Leader.  

This week, we will focus on Marketing, which as we know can be filled with lots of interesting and somewhat misleading titles


  • Reports to the Board and/or Founder/CEO 
  • Board involvement
  • Participates in raising capital  
  • Often hired to participate in a pivot/reset or turn around 
  • Current or intended growth of the marketing organization includes team(s) focused growth
  • Leads other leaders
  • Global scope 
  • Focuses on strategy and their team focuses on execution
  • P&L responsibilities, possibility may own revenue
  • Title is often earned based on the number of years of experience and scope of responsibilities 

VP Marketing

  • Reports to CMO, CRO, COO or CEO/Founder
  • Participates in company "town halls" as the functional leader
  • Often hired as part of a scale-up or when a venture raise enables the completion of the SLT
  • Typically hired after a handful of individual contributors have been functioning for a while as a scrappy team reporting to a Founder or into Ops or the Sales Leader
  • Could be the senior most marketing leader and often leads Directors, Managers or a team of individual contributors 
  • Moves across strategy and execution seamlessly, "rolling up their sleeves" when necessary
  • Tapped to make decisions about marketing tech-stack
  • Responsible for the marketing budget

Hiring a Head of Marketing? Make sure they have these 5 moved coveted traits 

Head of Marketing

  • Reports to the Founder/CEO 
  • Could be hired as the sole marketer or to provide leadership for a small team
  • This title typically comes from young modern tech startups and is applied to attract a senior level individual contributor, or as part of a retention strategy
  • Often a scrappy persona, they are hands-on executing, developing the strategy as they go (build the plane while flying)
  • They are close to the tech stack
  • Their KPIs are related to growth, leads, and inbound marketing
  • May or may not own a budget, depending on the size of the start up

Looking for Customer Success or Engineering title advice? Stay tuned for the rest of our five-part checklist series.