Preparing for the Challenge
A marketing manager may have a degree in one of many areas, but a business management degree with a focus on marketing, or even a marketing major, is a good base for working up to a general marketing role. Courses in advertising, statistics, and writing are important, as is hands-on experience in online marketing and social networking, sales, and telemarketing. Todayís marketing manager needs to be familiar with all the possible tools for marketing work as they may be expected to implement and supervise diverse activities. A core of strong communications and analytical skills, however, apply across the spectrum for such positions. Certainly, imagination and creativity are helpful, too.
Resourcefulness is a marketable attribute in the marketerís own job search. The ability to envision and execute collaborations, cost-saving measures, and leveraging advantages from within and without the organization are important characteristics to nurture and use in marketing work. Regardless of the nature of the product, service, or concept on sale, the market is expected to know how and why his promotional plan is being implemented, how much it will cost, and how to project the expected results.
The Map to Success
A valid marketing plan supported by research and analysis of both existing data and projection is the marketing managerís map. The planning model for marketing is supported by activities and tools that indicate important aspects of the company and its product. Identifying key audiences and using demographic data to do so is a first step. The marketing plan is a piece of the organizationís plan, so it needs to be tied to the overall strategic plan. Often the marketing and sales staffs are partners in the planning process as their activities and cooperation can make or break a business.
The manager should be considering marketing research that garners both qualitative and quantitative results. A market scan, focus groups, surveys, and interviews with key stakeholders are traditional tools that may yield invaluable information. In addition, todayís marketing manager is expected to use the tools that readily exist to collect data, conduct surveys, and have meaningful exchanges with customers and other audiences. The organizationís Web site and electronic communication offer significant opportunities to build market knowledge, including what the competition is doing. Driving customers to the Web site through e-communications and the provision of relevant content can provide increased audiences for products and information in a setting where mining data is controlled and guided by the company itself. Marketing managers are expected to maximize tools and results in this way and should consider the Web site and electronic tools such as e-mailings an extension of their staffs.
Pay scales for marketing managers vary according to the type of business or organization they work for. Corporate and federal government jobs generally offer the highest salary (mid-$70s is the general range in 2008, according to various surveys) with hospitals and universities providing the higher salaries in the non-profit spectrum alongside state and local government positions, which offer a range from mid-$40s to low $60s. In an accounting firm, marketing management duties could be the directorís responsibility, so, again, a wider range of possible salaries may be noted in the accounting field. Larger firms with a national presence are more likely to have such a position in house, even in multiple cities.
Director and vice president level positions come with a higher pay scale, but they offer a visible career path for the marketing manager.
Marketing managers represent a wide range of experience and skills. And job descriptions vary wildly, depending on the size of the company or organization. While a nonprofit marketing manager may find themselves distributing posters for an arts events, corporate marketing positions are expected to be better supported by staff and budget. However, the manager role in a small or mid-size business may be the best place to get results while wearing many hats. The achievements during the dues-paying period in a smaller shop can help the early career marketer to prepare for the next career move and future success.