Pay, Expectations and Reality When Hiring Quant Marketers

It's a New, Hot, Competitive Field: A Job Offer Needs to Be Carefully Tailored

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"I need a marketing analytics person, but what should I pay them? How can I make my offer stand out?"

Sound familiar? Luring the right quant-marketing talent is a challenge. This field is relatively new. So we won't always find enough candidates with years and years of experience doing exactly what we're seeking. Recently, I've interviewed candidates from digital marketing, quantitative market research, statistics, finance and strategy consulting.

This field is also hot. Some people no sooner put down career roots than they are recruited to a new role with higher pay. (Newly-minted Ph.D.-level data scientists come to mind.) This introduces distortion in salaries, and raises questions about overall level of professional seasoning and ability to get stuff done over the longer haul.

How can you land the proverbial champagne talent on a beer budget? Or even champagne on a champagne budget?

Let's start with some data. In the Northeast (the area where I do most of my recruiting) I see the following compensation ranges:

  • Director: $140-$185k base; average bonus of 18%

  • Vice President: $180-$240k base; average bonus of 23%

  • Senior Vice President: $200-300k base; average bonus of 30%

There are plenty of outliers, though. For instance, some trade a lower salary for upside potential in the form of equity or commissions.

To attract the right quant-marketing talent, keep in mind the following:

Clarify what you want versus what you need. Does the candidate need to know SPSS or just be willing to learn? Do you really need someone with an eight-year pedigree from Bain and the accompanying premium, or will someone who punched that ticket for two years and then moved on suffice? Remember that a new hire's innate curiosity and grit can make up quickly for gaps.

Offer a jump in scale and scope to balance out a moderate increase in compensation. Taken together, the compensation, benefits and scope of a role should represent substantial career progression. The progression needn't be 100% monetary. When interviewing, ask about the current scale and scope of a candidate's role, and identify gaps separating what they've done from your role. Maybe they've led a team of five, but at your company they will lead a team of ten. Maybe they've managed $5 MM in their current role but would be responsible for $8 MM in your role. Perhaps they're responsible for managing revenue now, but in your role they'd have P&L responsibility. Of course, you'll have to test for aptitude and motivation to close those gaps.

Get real. Match your expectations to your desirability. Check out this article about calculating the corporate desirability scale. The idea here: If you want to hire from the top 10% of the market, then make sure your opportunity is really desirable, so it is perceived among the top 10% of opportunities available. So, identify the factors that matter to your target employee audience (such as compensation, challenging problems to solve, reputation of management, etc.) Then, estimate how attractive your opportunity is on each factor on a scale of 1 to 100. Now, average your scores to arrive at your corporate desirability score. Say your score is an 83. All else equal, if this formula works, you can expect to hire people in the 83rd percentile.

Craft an offer that promises a cut of impact. You may find someone who identifies ways to turbo-charge your revenue or slash your costs, by unearthing valuable insight from data or tapping their network. If they can make up for their compensation 10 times over, that's a heck of a new hire. So why not offer that star a cut of the financial impact that they uniquely and directly influence?

Customize an offer in non-financial ways. Learn what motivates a candidate so you can differentiate their offer in non-financial ways. In each interaction, through asking outright or observation, build a picture of their relative preferences and values. Later, apply that insight when negotiating the offer and its presentation. You could customize the offer with an allowance for commuting costs, a promise of a compensation review in six months rather than a year, a higher title (titles come cheap!) or something else.

Erica Seidel is founder of The Connective Good, an executive recruiting practice.
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