What's it like being a marketing manager?

​Marketing managers control all of the communication between a company and its customers, and much more than you would think.

Marketing managers control all of the communication between a company and its customers. They manage internal teams in order to craft promotional messages, and they work to publish media across multiple channels. Marketing managers work with many different forms of media, from more traditional newspapers and billboards to digital advertising and social platforms.

Depending on the size of the organization, the marketing manager might specialize in one of these channels or manage all of them. While most companies need at least one marketing manager, this job requires specialized industry knowledge that takes years to develop. Here's everything you need to know about this exciting career.

What can you expect from a marketing manager job?

What is a marketing manager?

The marketing manager job description varies by company and industry, however, most need to oversee the multiple communication channels they use to promote the business. When asked, "what do marketing managers do on a daily basis?" there are a few common responsibilities that most of these positions share:

  • Creating promotional messages and themes to drive business
  • Coordinating marketing strategies across multiple channels
  • Managing budgets for media and marketing campaigns
  • Testing new marketing messages, channels, and opportunities
  • Building relationships with national and local media outlets
  • Directing the company's social media strategy
  • Evaluating the performance of campaigns and troubleshooting those that underperform
  • Monitoring and improving the website and digital presence through SEO
  • Managing third-party vendors and in-house employees
  • Working with the customer service department to address problems
  • Brainstorming ways to promote new products or initiatives
  • Educating employees and other departments about industry marketing trends
  • Listening to customer feedback from customer service reps and social media platforms
  • Analyzing advertising return and reporting findings to upper management

Work environment

Most marketing managers work in an office environment. They typically have their own offices, but they may attend meetings in conference rooms or communal workspaces.

Some may work in a variety of locations if they are directly involved with the production of the company. A marketing manager in the retail industry may have to travel to brick and mortar locations to make sure the store employees are trained on a new promotion. Marketing managers may also give facility tours to media or potential business partners.

More companies are starting to use open offices, which means that marketing managers work at desks near their employees instead of in their own offices. Depending on how you work, this can either lead to collaboration across different departments, or it can create a distracting environment.

As a marketing manager, you will typically have a company laptop and sometimes a company smartphone. You may be expected to take these home if you're approaching a tight deadline. Some companies allow their marketing managers to telework for a few days during the week as long as they have a strong Internet connection.

Schedule

Most marketing managers work full-time during traditional business hours. They may also have to work early to attend a meeting or conference call, or they may have to work late to finish a project.

During major company events, marketing managers may need to work over the weekend to support the business. In retail, most marketing managers work over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, since those are typically the company's biggest sales days. Depending on the event, marketing managers may need to work on site, or they may be able to work from home. Some companies will compensate for this by giving the marketing manager an extra day off. In general, this position is a good fit for those who thrive during typical work hours but are willing to work late for the good of the company.

What qualifications are required to be a marketing manager?

Education

Most companies expect their marketing managers to have at least a bachelor's degree. Many businesses, however, will make exceptions if candidates have enough relevant experience. Some companies expect employees in managerial positions to have a master's degree in a related field as well. Applicants with the following degree fields have the highest likelihood of receiving an interview for this type of position:

  • Marketing
  • Communications
  • Public relations
  • Accounting and finance
  • Business management

Most marketing managers have previous job-related training, which means qualified candidates might originate from other degree fields like Journalism or Graphic Design. Most marketing managers will also receive on-the-job training to introduce them to different vendors and software tools for campaign promotion and evaluation.

Experience

While education is certainly an important factor in a marketing manager's qualifications, experience often outweighs a degree during the hiring process. In fact, 49 percent of marketing managers have at least 10 years of experience, and 28 percent have more than 20 years of experience within the industry. On the low end, 12 percent of marketing managers have less than five years of experience, and only 4 percent have less than two years in the field.

This data indicates that inexperienced candidates will have more success in lower-level positions, such as a marketing coordinator or specialist role, before they reach the managerial level. However, small businesses and younger companies are often more flexible with requirements and promotions than large businesses are.

Skills

What sets a marketing manager apart from a coordinator or assistant is his or her skill set. With the rise of digital marketing, these skills have changed dramatically in the past decade. Here are a few of the skills every marketing manager needs to succeed:

Traditional marketing skills

  • Writing and communication - Marketing managers need to write press releases, blogs, and advertising copy.
  • Creativity - Many companies value creative thinking to build new campaigns with unique hooks.
  • Negotiation - Media buying requires negotiating with vendors for a better price or placement.
  • Budgeting - Marketing managers must stick to a budget and prioritize allocation across multiple channels.
  • Planning and execution - Long term planning and follow through is crucial to launching marketing strategies on time.

Digital marketing skills

  • Search engine optimization - Marketing managers should know how to optimize the company's web presence on Google and Bing.
  • Analytics certification - Knowledge of Google Analytics and Coremetrics provides daily and monthly progress reporting.
  • Social media - Marketing requires staying up-to-date on social media platforms and analyzing new trends.
  • Paid search platforms - Most companies use Google AdWords and Bing Ads to promote their brand on a digital platform.
  • Website optimization - Identifying website problems can boost company revenue and increase customer satisfaction.

Office skills

  • Time management - With multiple channels to manage, marketing managers need to decide how much time to spend working on each one.
  • Office programs - Familiarization with Microsoft Office and Google Docs will be important in day-to-day tasks.
  • Attention to detail - Marketers communicate with customers. Without attention to detail the company looks sloppy and unprofessional.
  • Calmness under pressure - Marketing can be a high-pressure environment with tight deadlines, so marketing managers need the ability to perform under pressure.

How Much Do Marketing Managers Make?

The average national salary for marketing managers is $88,000. Finding a qualified candidate with more than 10 years of experience can be difficult, which makes the market very competitive. Depending on the city and industry, a marketing manager could make significantly more than average. For instance, the expected annual salary for a marketing manager in New York City is $104,000, and $95,000 in Los Angeles. Larger companies will be more likely to offer higher salaries and assign additional responsibilities.

For more info on how much you can expect to make as a marketing manager, check out these insights.

Job outlook for marketing managers

Projected growth

In the next 10 years, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster than average growth rate of 9 percent for marketing managers. This will translate to an additional 19,700 jobs in the marketing industry during that timeframe. This strong growth rate indicates the health of the marketing industry, particularly for candidates who understand the latest digital trends.

Career trajectory

Many marketing coordinators and specialists are promoted to the marketing manager level after several years in the field. Marketing managers who go above and beyond have the potential to be promoted to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Vice President (VP) of Marketing. These senior positions focus on the big picture and overall company marketing strategy, instead of the daily involvement managing different channels.

In order to succeed as a CMO or VP of marketing, managers should familiarize themselves with other aspects of the business. Marketing has an effect on production and operations, so understanding how the company functions will make managers more qualified to make strategic decisions.

Many professionals work for years to become marketing managers. Candidates at the coordinator level should enlist in leadership training classes and find a professional mentor. Once a candidate reaches the position of marketing manager, it could take six months to a year to become fully trained. Since there are so many moving elements to the position, it takes time to master each one.

Marketing is a great fit for candidates who excel at planning campaigns and working to execute them. This path from idea to execution is one of the most rewarding parts of any marketing manager career


More information for marketers:

Sample resume for marketing professionals

Cover letter sample for marketing jobs

4 grammar mistakes to look out for on your resume