How to be a head of marketing: The champion's checklist

5th Dec 2014

Congratulations! You’ve got that new post as head of marketing!

You walk into your new offices – now what do you do? You need to find out all about your new employer’s strength and weaknesses, their products, positioning and existing marketing activities.

Here’s a marketing checklist to get you going:


  • Who are our customers? Why do they buy from us? How many are repeat customers?
  • How do we market to them? Do we have a newsletter, printed or emailed? How are they segmented (verticals, geographies)?
  • Do we run a user group or customer forum? Do we ask them to golf/rugby/baseball days?
  • How do new customers find us/hear about us? Where do new enquiries get put through to, sales or marketing? Do we record & track them?
  • Is it possible to build a database of our prospect universe, to have the names of all possible potential purchasers on it?
  • Do we have referral or affiliate programmes?


Marketing budget

  • Do I have a budget, and if so, what is it?
  • What is the sign-off process?
  • What is included and what isn’t?



  • What are our USPs?
  • How do they compare to our competitors’ USPs?
  • How does our pricing work?


  • What marketing subcontractors do we use, such as PR company, digital agency, web site hosting and maintenance?
  • Are they on a retainer and if so, how much is that and what is the termination notice? Nothing like calling a meeting with the new marketing manager to keep them on their toes for fear of losing the account.


  • Do we know who our prospects buy from today? What would make them switch to us?
  • What are our competitors’ pricing and USPs?
  • What keywords are their web sites optimised for?


  • What brochures and other printed material do we have?
  • Are they up to date?


  • What advertising do we do? What’s the budget? Can we measure the results?
  • What PPC campaigns are we running? Do they have an end date? What’s the daily budget? What are the stats – cost per acquisition, cost per qualified lead, cost per sale?


  • Who hosts this? Who does the creative and HTML? Who updates it? Is it easy to update?
  • What analytics do we use? What do the traffic stats look like?
  • Is it optimised for mobile/responsive design?
  • What is the uptime? If it goes down, how would we know – do we use any third party monitoring tools (like Pingdom)?


  • Who does this, in-house or external? What keywords is the web site optimised for?
  • Do we have monthly stats on keyword performance?
  • When were the keywords last reviewed?


  • What systems do we use – CRM system, emailing system, customer databases? Or just lots of spreadsheets? Are all the customers from the accounting system in the database?
  • Who is responsible for data integrity?


  • Who writes them? How often do we send them? Printed and/or email?
  • For email: do we segment? Who do we use to send them and do we track opens, clicks and clean the database for unsubscribes and bounces?


  • Do we have a blog? Do we have LinkedIn and Facebook pages? Do we use Twitter and Google+? Corporate or personal accounts?
  • Who is updating the content? Do we have individual accounts and/or corporate accounts?


  • In house or agency? Do we have a list of key publications we target and the names of key journalists?
  • Do we have a clippings book?
  • Do we have a standardised About paragraph?

Other campaigns

  • What other marketing do we use or have used in the past?
  • Direct Mail? Telemarketing? Exhibitions? Webinars? Radio & TV advertising? Sponsorship? Speaking opportunities? Affiliate or Referral Schemes? Pay-per-Lead?
  • Any data on their costs and ROI?
  • Did they work?
  • Knowing what has failed in the past, and why, will help you avoid making the same mistakes.


Not all of the above will be relevant, but most will be.

You may not get all the answers immediately, in many cases people simply won't know! Which will be indicative of the challenges ahead!

If you have to prioritise where to start, start with the web site and SEO. Improving that will generate a faster return that tweaking the printed collateral.

Good luck!

John Paterson is CEO of Really Simple Systems


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