Career Marketing — 13 September 2012
What makes an exceptional Marketing Manager?

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.

For those readers who work in an agency, you might be interested in this post on “What makes a kick-ass Account Manager”.


Subscribe to Firebrand’s blog, “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or join our LinkedIn group for more marketing, digital, business and career-related brain-food.


Related Articles


(6) Readers Comments

  1. Thanks for the post! There is clearly a number of distinct traits that great marketing managers must have.
    What interests me, is what sort of corporate/biz environment allows great marketing managers to fully express their talents to deliver value. I think it’s just as necessary that exec level understand the value in having a quality marketing manager, and lead them in lieu of micro managing them whilst pressing them on KPIs.

    Therefore what makes a great marketing manager in my mind, is also very much a product of the firm’s operating model.


  2. good marketing managers have a toe in every aspect of the company – they should be seen as productive interferers – popping up and offering insights to all aspects of the business.

  3. Thanks for this. Our company never had a marketing department and I’ve volunteered to put together a strategy but I’m so used to focusing on detail that I’m finding it difficult to look at the big picture but am learning slowly. Some good tips here!

  4. Simple but clear vision , thank u

  5. From a societal point of view, marketing is the link between a society’s material requirements and its economic patterns of response. Marketing satisfies these needs and wants through exchange processes and building long term relationships. It is the process of communicating the value of a product or service through positioning to customers.^-“*

    My favorite web page

  6. Pingback: What makes a great Marketing Communications Manager? - PR Communications Daily

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Thank you for subscribing to our Firebrand Ideas Ignition blog.
You will receive an email for each new blog post published
(approximately 3 times a week).