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What makes an exceptional Marketing Manager?


DATE: 03 September, 2020

A big part of a company's success or failure is directly tied to the effectiveness of its marketing efforts. Whether a company has a dedicated Marketing Manager, or they outsource marketing efforts to an agency, marketing is one of the most critical functions in any company.

In the last few months, I have had the privilege to meet and work with some truly exceptional marketing managers and have pulled together a list of the qualities that seem apparent in all of them; some that you're born with, some you learn at University/College, and some you develop every day.

1. A vision creator

Great marketing managers are vision creators. One of the most important steps in launching a product or service to market is to create a clear, focused concept of their product or service. To accomplish this, marketing managers must be able to wade through the products or services that their company sells, find its edge in the marketplace, and simplify its features and benefits so that they are easily understood.

This ability to communicate the vision clearly will give not only their employees a clear understanding of what X product does, but will facilitate getting the best out of their advertising agency. For example, “Our company will be selling a new product. This product will be more expensive than the competition, but it's a more durable product and it's easier to use – saving time and money. This is our edge in the marketplace”. When the internal team, the sales reps and the ad agency receive this type of focused direction, they will have a clear picture of how to create effective materials, the best advertising campaign and achieve the best success.

A clear, focused vision is essential for an effective marketing program.

2. A strong(ish) ego

Marketing does help to lead the direction of a business in many ways, and to do this, the marketing function must be led by a person with courage and a voice. This is not to say that a marketing manager should be an island. Effective and successful marketing managers listen to people inside and outside of the company. They listen to their customers, co-workers, senior management, and sales people. By having their ears open, marketing managers better understand the marketplace. But at the same time, they must have strong enough self-confidence to wade through the varying opinions, make up their own mind as to the direction to head, and be able to say, “This is where we're going, follow me!”

3. Trend setter

Good marketing managers need to have a very strong understanding of what is happening in the marketplace and what influences people's buying decisions. With the digital age, and consumer's wisening up to old-fashioned marketing tactics, a great marketing manager has their finger on the pulse so that they engage with their consumer in the right places at the right time. They see the trends developing, they predict the market and proactively manage their brand message so it meets the consumer head on. Understanding your market and your customer base is critical to creating the essential, clear vision and getting to your core customer.

4. Multi-tasks like a machine

The best marketing managers I've met are brilliant multi-taskers, project managers and admin managers. They are across everything, even if it's not written down. Ask them about X product or Y person and you'll get an answer. They are on top of everything and have the insane ability to get things done, mostly on time and on budget.

5. Mentor, not micro-manage

Great strategic marketing managers let others get on with it. They don't take over. It's easy for marketing managers to become engrossed in the details, re-writing copy or fine-tuning a graphic designer's template when they should rather be focused on the big picture. They should be delegating tasks to the appropriate people. Effective marketing managers work at and refine the vision, they provide direction and mentorship, they are a sounding board for direction and approvals, but they don't allow themselves to become distracted by the details.

6. In control of the budget

A good marketing manager has enough experience to understand what a given project may typically cost, is able to prepare a budget, and has reasonable expectations that this budget will change a few times. Having a budget allows the ad agency to explore all possible ideas and come back with the best solution to the brief.

7. Love what they do

Great marketing managers love the marketing process — the variety and unpredictability of it all. Is this the right vision? What do my customers really need? Are we providing what they want? Good marketing managers love making bold statements and leading a team into battle. They love diving into the marketplace, delegating tasks, taking risks and seeing the outcome. They know that even the best-laid marketing plan has uncertain elements. They surround themselves with people they enjoy working with and have a great relationship with their creative team or outside agency. These are people they can throw ideas at, or ask for ideas.

There are not many marketing managers who really LOVE this process. I enjoy working with the ones who do. It is fun to work with them because I know they get more out of everyone, including my company.