Skills & Expertise

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

Here's the scoop on what it takes to be a kickass marketing manager


So you’ve been eyeing marketing manager positions and you’ve read through the job description at companies that appeal to you. But maybe you’re still not exactly sure what the role is really all about. Allow us to break it down for you.

What exactly does a marketing manager do?

Well, it depends on the size, structure and goals of the company, but the core responsibility is to implement and report on marketing initiatives. The role is focused on the what (as in, what actions need to be executed), as opposed to the role of a marketing director, who explores the why and the how of those actions, explains Simon Yi, growth marketing lead at digital concierge service Reserve.

For example, Natalie Bonacasa, senior marketing manager at travel platform Skift, is tasked with renewing and retaining existing subscribers through campaigns that involve newsletters, sponsored content, partnerships, ads and events. She also works closely with the creative and development teams to create engagement-worthy emails and ads displayed online, in print and via social media.

What skills do you need?

These days, it’s not enough to know the pros and cons of both print and digital channels. You need to be a numbers person, an excellent project manager and a team player. “Things are becoming more measured and focused on the return on investment, and I’m finding that marketing managers who have quantitative skills is very important,” notes Yi.

Bonacasa says she juggles the duties of a project manager by having checklists and timelines for each campaign. “I loop in whoever needs to be included so we’re all on the same page,” she adds. “Being likable is important, too,” she explains, especially when you need cooperation from team members across departments.

Who is a marketing manager’s boss?

Depending on the size of the company, your boss may be a marketing director, VP of marketing, chief marketing officer (CMO) or, at smaller businesses, the CEO or company founder.

As for direct reports, a marketing manager at a startup may have none, besides perhaps an intern or two. At a larger company, you will likely have marketing assistants or associates that report to you, or a team of content producers.

Are there other titles with similar responsibilities?

Yi’s title, growth marketing lead, is a digital marketing role that carries many of the same responsibilities as a marketing manager. In his case, Yi is a specialist who analyzes consumer activity on Reserve’s digital channels and uses those data points to plan marketing campaigns. Marketing managers can also be platform specific (e.g. email or social media marketers) or in charge of initiatives executed in certain cities, regions or countries.

What do you need to get ahead in this position?

Being on the pulse of new marketing platforms (mobile, video and beyond), advertising technology and Internet culture is a huge advantage. For Yi, success in his position means staying curious; for Bonacasa, it’s about keeping the team on task.

If you’re looking to up your marketing game, consider taking a class. Mediabistro’s online courses include a whole line up of marketing courses, from crash courses in content marketing and social media engagement, to more in-depth instruction on search marketing and marketing with Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

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