If there were a movie about a SaaS company reaching stardom, I’d be casting the marketing manager as the main character.
Because they’re not only responsible for all the creative things the public sees about a brand, but also the playmakers behind-the-scenes, analyzing data, guiding teams, and conducting market research to strategically drive growth.
Let’s say, for example, you made the decision to use Salesforce as a CRM solution in your business. Whether it was the promises Salesforce makes in their advertising, their competitive pricing, or even the ongoing stream of micro-exposures to the brand that kept it top of mind for you, you chose them over another solution for a reason.
Surprise! A marketing manager was a big part of that reason, and their skills in product messaging, positioning, marketing automations, and brand recognition were behind the wheel, driving you to say “sign me up.”
So, I want to give you a closer look at what makes these unicorns tick. Ready to experience some main character energy? Let’s dive in.
What Is A Marketing Manager?
As the title of this article suggests, marketing managers serve as the orchestrators of marketing departments. On the outside, they ensure companies reach and appeal to their target audience, while internally helping to meet any key performance indicators (KPIs) laid out by the business.
Types of Marketing Managers
Not all marketing managers have the same responsibilities. In fact, there are manager positions in several different areas you could consider for a marketing manager career:
- Brand Managers are focused on shaping and managing a company's brand identity. They work on strategies to increase brand awareness, messaging, and brand consistency across all marketing channels.
- Digital Marketing Managers are responsible for enhancing a company's online presence and engagement through online marketing strategies like SEO, SEM, email marketing, social media, content marketing, and web analytics.
- Content Marketing Managers are storytellers specializing in creating, curating, and distributing content in the form of blogs, videos, infographics, and social media posts to attract and engage audiences.
- Affiliate Marketing Managers oversee and manage affiliate marketing programs when external partnership opportunities arise to promote new products or services.
- Product Marketing Managers are focused on the marketing strategies and activities specifically related to a company's products or services. They work closely with product development teams to position and promote products effectively in their designated marketplace.
- Social Media Managers are responsible for managing a company's social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. They develop social media strategies, create content, engage with followers, and analyze social media performance.
As you can imagine, these roles continue to evolve as marketing trends do every year, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to expand your marketing experience within individual roles and the industry as a whole.
What Does A Marketing Manager Do?
Marketing Managers shoulder immense responsibility, both day-to-day and in the long-term. On a day to day basis, their role could involve any or all of the following marketing activities or critical skills:
- Strategic Planning: This involves developing marketing strategies that align with goals and a designated target audience, along with analyzing market trends, competition, and customer behavior to identify opportunities for growth.
- Product Positioning: It’s essential to position SaaS products in a way that highlights their unique features and benefits to stand out against their many competitors. Marketing professionals do this by creating compelling messaging and pricing strategies to differentiate their offerings from others.
- Lead Generation: SaaS companies rely heavily on lead generation to fuel their sales funnel. As a marketing manager, you create and implement strategies to attract potential customers through various channels into that funnel through content marketing, email campaigns, social media, etc.
- Content Creation: Without great content it would be very hard to sell anything. Marketing Managers oversee the creation of high-quality, relevant content like blog posts, digital ads, social media posts, and webinars, to engage and educate their target audience.
- Performance Analytics: They continuously monitor and analyze marketing campaigns using tools like Google Analytics and marketing automation platforms. This data-driven approach helps to optimize strategies for better results.
- Team Management: Marketing Managers lead and manage a team of professionals from content writers and designers, to digital marketing specialists and brand managers to help execute strategies effectively and efficiently.
- Client Management: In some companies this falls on the sales team, in others, it’s the marketing team. Either way, this involves taking discovery calls, setting meetings, keeping client folders organized, and generally ensuring there’s no roadblocks between what the client hired you for and what your company promises to do.
- Budget Management: Budget allocation is relevant on a per-project and cross-marketing basis within a company and it’s essential for marketing managers to keep the short and long-term budgets in mind to ensure resources are used efficiently to maximize ROI
Courtney Bannatyne, the manager of sales and marketing at UpHouse Inc.—an award-winning B Corp Agency in Winnipeg, Canada—took me through her typical day to help frame the job from an advertising agency perspective:
“My day-to-day responsibilities consist of responding to a lot of requests. I take discovery calls with clients who might want to work with us. I write lots of proposals, I manage dozens of emails, kick off our creative and account teams on new projects that come in, and manage people who report to me, like our internal brand manager.”
Marketing Manager Roles Long-Term
Zooming out to look at the job from an annual perspective, things like building out processes, brand positioning, and strategic planning come into play to ensure you’re helping your company achieve their long-term S.M.A.R.T Goals.
“Long-term, I have to think about the kind of agency we want to be and the kind of work we want to do, and I make plans and suggestions to get us there,” says Bannatyne.
“That means I’m in charge of creating our annual marketing plan, building business development processes, working on UpHouse’s positioning in the advertising agency market, and really defining who our best-fit clients are to make the reach-out process smoother.”
How Much Does A Marketing Manager Make?
Salary is a tricky subject to speak on, as it varies so much from company to company and state to state. To gain some insight, I’ve listed five B2B and SaaS companies across the US who, at the time of publishing this article, were hiring for marketing manager positions:
- Post Pilot is seeking a Content Marketing Manager, offering a salary of $75,000–$110,000/ year
- VSCO is seeking a Lifecycle Marketing Manager, offering a salary of $117,000 - $138,000/year
- Aspire is seeking a Senior Campaign Manager, offering a salary of $80,000 - $90,000/year
- Numerik is seeking a Marketing Manager, offering a salary of $110,000–$150,000/year
- Michael Page is seeking a Marketing Manager, offering a salary of $125,000–$135,000/year
So on average, you’re looking at a 6-figure salary of just over $100,000/year to start.
If your interest just peaked, you might be wondering what kind of background you might need to get hired.
Education Requirements For A Marketing Manager
To be hired for a marketing manager job, you typically need a combination of education, skills, and experience, with particular emphasis on the latter two.
While there is no one-size-fits-all educational path to become one, here are some commonalities you’re likely to see on a marketing manager’s resume or requested in a job description:
- Bachelor's Degree: Most marketing managers have at least a bachelor's degree with a major in Marketing, English, Business Administration, Advertising, Communications, or even a related field such as Psychology, as understanding consumer behavior is essential in marketing.
- Marketing Courses and Certifications: Showing employers you spend time honing industry-relevant skills via certification courses, webinars, or books can be highly beneficial in securing a marketing job at any level. It also helps if you know how to use some of the most common marketing software.
- Project Management: Marketing managers often oversee multiple projects simultaneously. Courses or certifications in project management can help you stay organized and efficient in managing campaigns and teams.
Skills & Experience
- Analytics and Data Analytical Skills: In order to make informed decisions based on past successes and failures, a marketing manager should be comfortable with data analysis. You could add in statistics and data analytics to your university course load, or take free certifications like Google Analytics.
- Digital Skills: As marketing becomes increasingly digital, proficiency in digital marketing tools and platforms is crucial. This specifically includes having knowledge and skills surrounding social media platforms, email marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and marketing automations.
- Creativity and Communication Skills: If you’re naturally creative and people-centric, you’re already a step ahead of the rest here. If you’re not, the creativity side isn’t something you can learn so much as it’s something you can improve. I recommend a post-secondary creative communications course, which is what Bannatyne and myself did, but if school isn’t an option, an internship under a professional in the field is just as good to learn the industry ropes.
Bannatyne stresses that success in the field is less about education, and more about one’s willingness to be a dedicated team player.
“I do know a lot of marketing managers who took creative college programs or have business degrees, but I also know a lot of great marketers who have come from extremely different backgrounds, like dental assistants, financial advisors and people who majored in criminology.
What I think makes someone successful in this line of work is a genuine drive to learn, understand, and do a great job.…If you care about the company’s success almost as much as your own, you are in a good spot.”
The Path To Becoming A Marketing Manager
Truth be told, there are unlimited ways to get into a desired position and it all depends on your company and their willingness to lay out a career path to the top.
Approximately 75 percent of marketing managers in the United States have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, so I think that’s a great starting point for anyone looking to gain the title.
But just for fun, let’s look at a common path to becoming a marketing manager in the US, once you have a bachelor’s degree in hand:
- Create a high quality marketing portfolio to show off your skills to employers.
- Practice common marketing interview questions so you’re confident in the interview.
- Attain an entry-level position in the marketing field to gain work experience, whether it’s part-time, full-time, or even contract positions.
- Network among colleagues to build rapport, trust, and loyalty, so when it comes time for promotions you’re top of mind.
Want to reach even higher and become a CMO? Melissa Ariganello, another writer here at The CMO, gives you all the details on that career path along with what’s relevant to reach the coveted title.
The Way Forward
As you’ve probably noticed, the specific path to becoming a marketing manager varies greatly based on individual circumstances, the type of organization, and industry specialization.
The good news is you’re now ready to take everything you learned here to optimize your chances at getting the job and becoming the main character in your own marketing manager story. Then, you can showcase your skills by addressing the biggest marketing challenges head on.
If you’re eager to learn more about marketing and leadership, The CMO blog is home to plenty of free resources, so you can expand your knowledge on any related topics. Subscribe now so you never miss a beat!