What Is a Marketing Manager?

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Flori Needle
Flori Needle


As marketers, we all want to climb the career ladder as quickly as possible. But if you're going to become a marketing manager one day, you first need to learn what the role demands.

what is a marketing manager

Moving up in ranks means becoming more involved in the marketing process, and eventually becoming the principal implementor.

As a marketing manager, you’d be in charge of a team. Employees will look up to you as you once looked up to your manager.

However, accepting this position comes with increased responsibility. It can feel rewarding to watch your strategies come to life, but it’s important to understand what the role entails.

Below, we'll go over what a marketing manager is, what a marketing manager does, the management process, and the skills and education you'll need to become one.

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What does a marketing manager do?

Marketing managers have a variety of responsibilities. While there are industry-specific standards, there are common tasks that all marketing managers will do:

  • Conduct market research to understand the public interest and determine the marketability of products and services.
  • Design creative and unique marketing strategies across multiple channels like social media, tv, billboards, and newspaper articles.
  • Create marketing plans detailing outcomes and goals.
  • Create comprehensive budgets and cost estimates.
  • Negotiate with potential clients and partners to prepare sales and advertisement contracts.
  • Handle public relations and troubleshoot internal and external issues as they arise.

Marketing managers are also responsible for training their team members on campaign-specific marketing plans. They’ll hire new employees to join their team, selecting those they believe will meet intended goals for executing brand strategy. They collaborate with all team members, motivating them to meet goals while providing guidance and delegating tasks.

Marketing Management Process

To succeed in their responsibilities, marketing managers follow a similar process. Each step in that process requires a unique approach depending on the product, service, or business.

Idea Generation

Marketing managers approach the idea generation stage with an intended product in mind or an idea for a product or service that a business hopes to create.

They'll conduct market research to understand current trends and customer interest. If a new product is launching, are there competitors? How successful are they? What are consumers saying about available products, and how can they be improved?

Understanding consumer interests and behaviors is key to beginning this process.

Marketing Plan

After identifying markets and understanding trends, marketing managers will develop a marketing plan that they'll use to implement their strategy. This plan identifies the target audiences, campaign-specific tactics, budget, and goals.

They'll work with different teams, like UX product design, financial departments, and sales engineers, to develop a strategy that  will allow the product to meet its intended goals. While a marketing manager is the chief decision maker, there may be financial aspects that they are not aware of. Collaboration between all teams ensures that the marketing plan is as comprehensive as possible.

The marketing manager will likely conduct tests with intended audiences to ensure that the final marketing plan will drive the most revenue before implementation. This may take the form of focus groups, personal modeling, or consumer interviews.

Implementation and Results

At this point, the marketing manager will work with their team to implement the finalized marketing plan. Timelines will be set for tracking campaign metrics, using data to adapt the strategy if necessary.

Regardless of campaign outcomes, all research and data will inform future marketing processes.

Skills to Become a Marketing Manager

Most companies require their marketing professionals to have a bachelor's degree. Still, since the marketing industry adapts quickly, companies don't necessarily need their marketers or marketing managers to have specialized degrees in specific fields. Some companies may require professional degrees or memberships in professional associations.

However, there is one universal requirement to become a marketing manager — a three- to five-year track record of consistently performing to your potential and achieving your goals. If you want to become a marketing manager one day, your performance as an individual contributor matters more than anything.

For instance, if the main goal is to manage a company’s blog team, one would need to prove that they’ve consistently written quality content that has met their manager’s expectations.

There are basic soft skills that a marketing manager should possess, like creativity, critical thinking, and leadership. However, a combination of these skills along with well-developed hard skills are crucial for job success. There are six essential skills an aspiring marketing manager should work to develop.

1. Communication

A marketing manager's job revolves around communicating with different audiences by developing creative content for advertisements, videos, and articles. This content must also be consistent with the tone, branding, and voice outlined in the marketing plan.

The marketing manager will also be in conversation with their own managers, team members, and external stakeholders.

Understanding how to confidently communicate with different audiences is critical for this role.

2. Budgeting 

Marketing Managers handle all kinds of resources, from campaign budgets to pay-per-click ads to influencer marketing. All of these actions require budgeting skills.

A marketing manager also handles  internal budgets for their team, ensuring that everyone has the resources they need.

3. Negotiation

After creating the marketing plan, the marketing manager will need to convince internal stakeholders of its value. They’ll need to identify the right teams, and convince them of the benefits to the business and intended customers. Without internal buy-in, the campaign may cause internal confusion if all teams aren’t on the same page.

The marketing manager may need to negotiate with other teams if they believe changes need to be made. They may agree with some suggested changes, but they’ll also need to know when to negotiate and advocate for certain elements of their plan if they are called into question.

Externally, the marketing manager may be involved in financial negotiations with outside stakeholders to ensure that budgets aren’t over-spent.

4. Planning and Execution

Long term planning and goal setting are two important skills to be a marketing manager. They need to understand intended outcomes, plan for intended results, and execute the strategy to meet those outcomes. For example, is the ultimate goal to gain 1,000 Instagram followers? How will that happen? What steps need to be taken along the way to reach the goal?

When managing multiple marketing channels and entire teams of people, understanding how much time to dedicate to all aspects of a campaign is essential.

Can you create comprehensive plans to manage your tasks? Can you meet deadlines? Can you deliver high-quality work under said deadlines? These are questions that might be asked when interviewing for a marketing management position.  

5. Collaboration and Delegation

Marketing managers lead an entire marketing team. Size may vary, but there are several people who will work under their direction.

They need to work well with others and enjoy building relationships with internal teams and external stakeholders. However, it's still important to be a leader that can step in and assign tasks when necessary. For example, the marketing manager would ensure that their team members are assigned the right tasks for their skillset, and that individual performance aligns with task expectations.

6. Adaptability

Customer behavior and markets can be volatile, so adapting to changing industry standards is a must. For example, a strategy may need to be adapted after falling short on expected outcomes. Instead of giving up, the marketing manager should devise a plan with their team to come up with alternative options.

7. Empathy 

Understanding markets means understanding consumer needs and predicting what they want and how they'll react to your service. This requires a significant amount of emotional intelligence.

On their teams, marketing managers are responsible for balancing role expectations with team member’s capabilities. For example, if someone on their team is stressed because they aren’t meeting deadlines, it’s the marketing managers job to address the issue with empathy. An effective marketing manager would be able to recognize their stress and work with them to come up with effective ways to meet their goals.

Ultimately, marketing managers develop unique, ambitious marketing strategies for products, 

businesses, and services. They create comprehensive marketing plans, and work with their teams to execute them successfully.

A marketing manager ensures that products, services, and businesses have the best chance to thrive in their intended markets, satisfying both companies and consumers.

Anyone who works to develop the skills outlined in this piece will be successful in their role as marketing manager.New Call-to-action

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