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Key Competencies for Creative Marketing Managers

January 26, 2015    |     by Brad Egeland     |     Account Management, Agency Management     
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So you’re a marketing manager in the creative management industry. You’re in good company.  

As of May 2015, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there 192,890 marketing managers in the US. They work in a range of environments that include actual advertising agencies as well as in-house marketing departments for larger companies.

A marketing manager’s role is to  plan, direct, or coordinate marketing policies and programs.

So what skills do you need to do your job well? To be effective for your organization, to lead your team, and to successfully deliver on your projects for your clients or your own organization?

You should be thinking in terms of the following list of broad-based skills that can be applied to different scenarios, in different industries, and for companies varying in size from small startups and mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 organizations.

Marketing managers need analytical skills

Successful marketing managers have analytical minds. They know the value of the vast amount of data available today, and are highly interested in what that data can reveal about consumer behavior, efficacy of various marketing approaches and more. The best managers also know how to look beyond the data and pick up on trends and patterns that can lead to better, more successful marketing efforts.

Marketing managers should be critical thinkers

Most executives these days see a real need to stock their organizations with employees who possess solid critical thinking skills. Critical thinking, or the ability to analyze situations or statements and determine their validity, is the foundation on which management professionals build their careers. Critical thinking breeds creative thinking, which in turn solves problems. This is exactly what employers need from managers – and in the creative industry this is extremely important for the marketing manager or director (or even Chief Marketing Officer – CMO – if applicable to the organization).

Marketing managers as project managers

In business today, you don’t have to hold the title of Project Manager to essentially be one. Projects can be simple or complex; they can be short or long term. In the creative industry, such as with marketing, ad campaigns, design work etc., they are increasingly created in response to social media opportunities and client engagement. Future creative marketing managers will need to sharpen their project management skills in order to properly lead their teams and accomplish their objectives.

Marketing managers must be able to see the big picture

An organization’s marketing manager should always be thinking in terms of integrated, interconnected systems, and how they interact with and affect each other. From trade show displays to Twitter feeds, it is vitally important to see how the relationships between all parts of the marketing plan work together, and to manage them effectively - as a whole.

Marketing managers need to have some technical savvy

Because technology will continue to advance and closely influence how marketing is accomplished, I feel that it will always be important for marketing managers to be technologically  savvy. Client engagement will occur more and more online. Competing for their attention will mean delivering the services and information they want, using user-friendly apps and relationship-building tools. So while marketing managers will depend on technology innovators to create the tools, they must be familiar with what clients want and how best to deliver it.

The manager of today who doesn’t possess all of these skills is not at all doomed to fail. But education and capabilities in each of these areas can only be helpful as they try to lead creative teams and projects to successful conclusions. And quite possibly they are going to have to do a good job of “Faking it till they make it” while learning along the way. Educate, network, and reach out to successful colleagues. Do whatever it takes.

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