Marketing managers are ubiquitous in the professional world; they can be found across nearly every industry and in every size and type of company. Though their job descriptions and years of professional experience may differ, marketing managers serve as the bridge between a company and their audience. If a company has a product or service to sell, they need marketing managers to do it.
The job of a marketing manager is to plan and execute marketing strategies. This might include identifying a target audience for their company’s products or services and figuring out how to reach them. They may also develop plans to maximize the company’s profits or market share, monitor trends in the industry, and engage with consumers to figure out how to best build a brand voice and loyal following.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a marketing manager and what it takes to become one yourself. (And if after you’ve read this you’re amped about the role, you can find open marketing manager jobs right here on The Muse!)
What Does a Marketing Manager Do?
The key job duties of a marketing manager can vary based on the industry, the size of a team, and the seniority level of the role. Someone in this position can be either an individual contributor or a team leader who manages other marketers. They may be directly responsible for creating marketing copy (in the form of website content, emails, social media, and more) or they may delegate it to other employees. Marketing managers are often responsible for planning and tracking the budget and strategy of the entire marketing department, one segment of it, or individual campaigns.
Generally, the goal of a marketing manager is to help their organization reach their target customers and drive engagement with their brand. Driving engagement can range from getting customers to make a purchase to building a community that rallies behind a cause to encouraging users to sign up to receive further information. Marketers can be focused on B2C, or business-to-consumer, which means that their target audience is individual customers, or they can be focused on B2B, business-to-business, meaning their target audience is other businesses or organizations.
Content and project management are common factors of all marketing jobs, says Julia Marvin, a marketing manager at Jefferson Center, a community-focused mental healthcare nonprofit, who has more than 10 years of experience in marketing and communications across multiple industries, including healthcare, tech startups, and government. The biggest difference in her job duties as a marketing manager have been based on the size of the team, Marvin says. “The smaller the team, the more I’ve had to do hands-on work and be well versed in various marketing specialties.”
A marketing manager might be a generalist, or they may specialize in or oversee specific facets of a company’s marketing efforts. A marketing generalist must possess skills that are widely applicable to multiple channels of marketing and often work at marketing agencies or for companies with smaller marketing teams. Someone who’s in a marketing specialist role, such as a social media marketing manager, may have more specific job requirements and goals to help a larger marketing department, which may be useful at a corporation, a startup, or a nonprofit. Some of the most common marketing specializations are brand management, copywriting, product marketing, social media, email marketing, growth management (also called marketing analysis or “growth hacking”), event marketing, search engine optimization or marketing (SEO or SEM), and e-commerce.
Key job duties of marketing managers may include:
- Identifying industry trends and incorporating new ideas into marketing strategy
- Developing, managing, and executing quarterly or annual marketing plan (for the entire marketing department or your specialized area)
- Defining and/or updating the key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to marketing efforts, tracking success towards those goals, and providing accurate stakeholder updates
- Simultaneously managing multiple project schedules and deadlines
- Exercising excellent copywriting, editing, and proofreading skills to ensure communications are creative, clear, and error-free
- Allocating the marketing budget and assisting with paid advertisements (including guidance or creation of design, ad copy, and landing pages)
- Collaborating with company leadership and product team in the development of brand messaging to strengthen brand and support company goals
- Developing and overseeing content strategy (either creating or delegating it)—including social media, newsletters, blogs, webinars, videos, and case studies—and increasing traffic to digital content (views, subscribers, and downloads)
- Managing hiring, onboarding, training, and development of marketing staff
- Advocating for the customer to ensure a consistent and quality experience based on customer satisfaction, market intelligence, data, and insights
- Concepting and executing integrated marketing campaigns (a combination of content, advertising, email, social media, etc.) between internal departments in the company and/or partnerships with other businesses
Key Facts About Marketing Managers
Interested in becoming a marketing manager? Here’s what you need to know.
Where Do Marketing Managers Work?
Whether you pursue a narrow speciality or prefer to be a broad generalist, marketing professionals are needed at every type of organization and across every industry—from startups to big corporations or even nonprofits and the government. Marketing managers can work in-house at any type of organization or for a marketing agency that does marketing for outside clients.
How Much Does a Marketing Manager Make?
The earning potential of a marketing manager varies widely by what geographic area you're based in, how many years of experience you have, and what company you work for, but according to PayScale, the average U.S. salary is $66,609. An early career marketing manager with one to four years of professional experience can expect to earn an average salary of $58,742, while a mid-career marketing manager with five to nine years of experience may earn an average salary of $69,378.
What Kinds of Work Environments Do Marketing Managers Have?
Because marketing managers work for every type of company, the work environment varies widely—and you can find one that truly works for you. For example, “Having worked in all types of environments and now being more seasoned in my career, what I look for in a company or organization is one that offers that work-life balance and makes supporting employees a priority,” Marvin says. “My [current] organization is very focused on its employees and creating a work environment that is conducive to work-life balance, while also making sure we’re providing quality care.” Marvin has also worked in startup environments where there were lunches and snacks provided, dog walking services, and more flexible work-from-home and paid time off policies.
Brook Barons, a senior content marketing manager at Gorilla Logic, which provides teams of custom software developers to Fortune 500 and SMBs (small- and medium-sized businesses), has also “been fortunate enough to always work in pretty flexible environments where trust in employees is prevalent,” she says, which has usually meant “being available for typical business hours but having the flexibilities like unlimited PTO, remote work options, and flexibility for exact start and end time.”
Can Marketing Managers Work Remotely?
Marketing managers can work both in an office or remotely depending on their company’s work policies, and there are plenty of marketing roles that are entirely remote. This allows a tremendous amount of flexibility for you to find the right work environment that suits your preferences and needs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, Barons’ work went from being in an office to entirely remote, but this didn’t create a massive shift in her workflow. As a marketer, she already had ample experience using the tools and systems that make remote work possible. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvin expects her work environment to be a flexible hybrid of working from home and going into the office.
What Hours Do Marketing Managers Usually Work?
Marketing managers usually have a traditional Monday-to-Friday schedule, but occasionally may have to work outside of that for an event or to meet an important deadline. “Having an attitude of flexibility and understanding that sometimes you have to work unusual hours is important,” Marvin says. For example, Barons says she usually begins work between 7 AM and 9 AM and completes her day between 4 PM and 6 PM. And though Marvin’s typical work hours are weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM, her marketing role sometimes requires putting on events, attending meetings, prepping for launches, and handling media requirements outside of those hours.
What Skills and Qualities Make a Good Marketing Manager?
Regardless of the type of company or industry a marketing manager works within, a number of soft and hard skills are going to be transferable across many marketing roles. “While industries and audiences and topics change, your foundational marketing skills and tactics don’t,” Marvin says.
Soft Skills for Marketing Managers
- Analytical thinking
- Big-picture thinking
- Cross-functional communication and negotiation
- Relationship building
- Time management
Hard Skills for Marketing Managers
Hard skills are often learned or acquired through hands-on experience. Whether you gained and used these at a previous job, in a volunteer position, or as part of your side gig, these skills can be relevant to your marketing career. These are skills that relate to your direct knowledge of how to do a specific process or task. Often you can learn hard skills on the job, which can be helpful as you advance in your marketing career.
Hard skills required for a marketing manager could include:
- Budget allocation for paid advertisements
- CMS platforms
- Community management
- Content strategy
- Copywriting and editing
- Email marketing tools (Pardot, Marketo, Mailchimp, HubSpot)
- Event planning and coordination
- Facebook Insights (and similar tools for all social platforms)
- Google Analytics
- Social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.)
- Social media scheduling and analytics tools (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr, etc.)
- Team management
How Can You Become a Marketing Manager?
The success of a marketing manager has more to do with their skill set than their level of higher education or their certifications. Whether or not a bachelor’s degree is required or preferred for a certain position depends on the organization, but many of the skills marketing managers need are possible to learn without a degree.
You’ll most likely start your career in an entry-level role like marketing coordinator, assistant, or analyst before applying or getting promoted to a marketing manager position. You can start out as a generalist and then move into a marketing speciality, or you can look for an entry-level role within your specialty of choice, such as a social media coordinator or similar. After you’ve been a marketing manager, the growth opportunities are nearly limitless, from running larger marketing departments all the way up to becoming a vice president of marketing or chief marketing officer (CMO).
But there is no one path to becoming a marketing manager. Transferable skills that will help you be successful in this role can come from anywhere in your life or career experience. You can apply what you have learned throughout your time as a volunteer or a leader within a previous organization, or even your multitasking or time management skills as a student or athlete, to a role as a marketing manager. If you’re pursuing a specialist role, you might bring in skills from another industry or type of job. For example, an editor, who has fine-tuned their strategic writing and analytical skills, would be successful in the copywriting, content marketing, or SEO/SEM specialties.
If you’re looking to move into marketing but aren’t already on a marketing-specific career track, start by learning the basics and networking with people who work in marketing management roles. You can also create meaningful volunteer or internship opportunities for yourself to conduct marketing activities and obtain basic marketing skills. Take advantage of free training materials, complete LinkedIn Learning courses, and learn industry jargon.
Set yourself up for success by branding yourself across social media platforms and network, network, network.on’t be afraid to reach out to people and schedule Zoom calls, says Jessica Hutson, Director of Marketing Technology at the University of Phoenix and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, who came to marketing after working as an HR professional in the U.S. Army Reserves, a military enrollment advisor and manager, and a mental health counselor. When Hutson discovered she wanted to move into marketing, she says, “I allowed myself to be curious, making note of all my interactions and personal knowledge gaps.”
Why Might You Consider Becoming a Marketing Manager?
The career outlook for marketing managers is above average: The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) projects the number of marketing managers will grow by 6% between 2019 and 2029, compared to an average of 4% growth for all occupations. With the rise in job opportunities comes ample room to grow in your marketing career over time. Barons says that since entering the marketing field in 2015, she has grown from a manager of programs to a manager of both programs and people. “Marketing and content are continuing to grow as the digital world does, and companies are increasingly seeing the value of this function.” Barons says.
You can also find a high level of satisfaction as a marketing manager, since you have limitless options for which organizations and industries you work in, allowing you to pursue an area you’re passionate about. In Hutson’s case, she says, “I adore higher education.” She especially loves her work because she’s passionate about the mission of serving working adults at the University of Phoenix. Plus, even if you don’t find something you love right away, marketing is constantly evolving so you might find your “home” in a new field that has yet to emerge. “Because of the rapidly changing environment that marketing lives in, there is always something new to try,” Barons says.
Because marketing managers work across many industries and at all types of companies, you can find a role with the right work environment and perks for you as well. For instance, Hutson says a current perk of her position is that she gets to work remotely and make her own schedule—there’s no “clocking in” every day.
If you have an analytical mindset and enjoy figuring things out in a creative way, you might like being a marketing manager. Much of the work of a marketing manager involves strategizing around how to reach your target audience effectively, whether that’s certain types of companies or groups of people. For Hutson, her audience is students, and she’s always trying to understand them better: “I always look at opportunities from the ‘student lens,’ of ‘how can I help our students be successful?’”
As your marketing experience grows, it can even lead to other opportunities. Marvin says she gained a newfound appreciation for her marketing work in 2019 when she ran for city council. “I put every single one of my skills to use as a candidate—brand strategy, messaging, digital marketing, project management, public speaking, media interviews, customer service, and much much more.”