Introduction to Marketing Manager
A popular view is that it is not the product that matters but how you sell it. It may be an exaggeration as consumers have the freedom of choice in an open market economy, not unlike a monopoly or oligopolistic economy where there are a large number of buyers but fewer sellers.
In a competitive environment, the product matters too- as it should satisfy some need or requirement of the consumer. The marketing personnel is most often are involved from the product conceptualization onwards to product launch and feedback.
No wonder the role of the marketing manager in any organization is a strategic one and more likely marketing people are more likely to be promoted to director positions and get a coveted place in the Board of Directors or even become the CEO or MD.
It is most likely that marketing personnel are more likely to move up to senior managerial positions compared to technical, human resources, accounting or administration.
A marketing manager is an unenviable position as it requires tremendous hard work, communication skills, conceptualization, inter-personal skills and the ability to work under tremendous pressure.
Tips to be a successful Marketing Manager
Following are some tips:
1. Develop the brand, understand the consumer mind
One of the key responsibilities of a marketing manager is the development of the company’s brand or brands. Brand development succeeds product development identifying a problem or need of a consumer. Moreover, the marketing manager also needs to promote the company along with brand-building exercise.
The marketing chief may be involved from the creation of logos, product identification, development, branding, ad campaigns, test marketing and setting up the distribution and logistics network and so on.
Understanding the consumer psyche and strategies for brand building is paramount for the success of any marketing manager.
2. Understanding selling, selling oneself
Many a time the marketing man is higher in the product team hierarchy and doesn’t get involved with the actual sales in retail which is the domain of the sales manager and executives.
Hence, it serves well to work closely with the sales team and studying the art of selling. As a marketing manager, one has to constantly sell strategies, ideas, tasks and decisions within the company which makes sales skill a vital task.
Undoubtedly, it makes sense to invest time to learn the art of selling although it is not to do selling on the field throughout the career but to understand the customer psyche and dynamics of retailing, and how retailers play a vital role in promoting the company’s Brand at the point- of- sale (PoS).
3. Be passionate and deliver the product
Most often the ideas for new products are first initiated at the marketing level and then communicated to the top management before leg work starts on finding the viability of the product and its need.
The marketing manager needs to show a passion for work, the product and deliver the product successfully in the market. If the marketing chief himself lacks the energy or enthusiasm to take the product forward, however, much the company puts into marketing promotion will be of no avail.
The energy of the marketing honcho has to percolate down the entire team and it will be contagious. This will result in greater success of the product and brand.
4. Multi-tasking skills vital
Compared to most other functions, marketing requires a multi-disciplinary and multi-tasking approach to get things done. He or she has to use secondary data, primary surveys, and customer feedback to develop new product ideas for the development team.
He also needs to work closely with the advertising, sales, public relations team members to achieve better results. They also need to come up with various reports and findings that are submitted to top management for approval.
Double up as public relations point of contact: In many firms where public relations department is not that strong, it is often the marketing manager who is constantly in touch with the media to provide interviews and quotes for journalists to promote the company, its products, and services.
At times he may have to do damage control just as the PR man does in changing the negative image or perception of the company or product. In some cases, they may need the support of experts in PR to execute this task.
5. Don’t focus only on competition from the same industry
With the convergence of technology, the competition for an existing product or brand can come from a totally unexpected industry vertical. The greatest threat the camera industry faced was not from within itself but by the development of smart mobile phones that has a variety of features including high-resolution cameras and supporting such apps as Whatsapp or Bluetooth to transmit the images and video depending on the size and resolution.
According to Subir Kumedan, a user experience architect, marketing personnel should do a mini-competitive analysis of at least five companies outside its vertical. According to him, unless you are in a cutting-edge design industry/vertical such as consumer travel or food delivery, chances are that best-in-class experiences are happening outside your vertical.
6. Let branding communications be simple and focused
Your product will most probably deliver some value in terms of utility, convenience, cutting edge technology, cost-effectiveness, and other positive qualities. Therefore it is paramount for the marketer to understand their marketing communications should also be straight forward and simple.
Some experts point out that best campaigns are those that are focused, simple and clear and that will go down the audience. One remembers the Thumbs up campaign of yesteryears-‘ refreshing Cola’ or Honda’s campaign for its new motorbike, ‘Navi- whatever it is, it’s fun.
Is it a scooter, is it a bike, don’t know. Wherever it goes it’s a fun ride says the full page campaign in newspapers.
The Thumbs Up was indeed refreshing for the youth as Navi could be a fun ride for the young. So the simple, focused marketing communications are bound to deliver better results in the long run.
7. Launching a product without trial marketing
Many a time due to overconfidence in their abilities or their ideas, marketing heads roll out brands without first testing it out in the market place. Even the best of products can fail if there is not trial marketing to find out the problems with the product or distribution network and take remedial action. In recent year, many automobiles, mobile phone, and laptop brands have had to recall some of their batches of products due to technical glitches or for not conforming to regulatory standards.
8. Focussing on design rather than customer requirement
Understanding the needs of the customer is more important than the design aesthetics of a product. Sometimes, they just work on exiting design or product and try to fit in a new design.
However, what is required is not a ‘me-too product to succeed but it should be based on identifying the customer type, behavior (motivation), and customer journey. The selection of design templates or dyes should be based on such an understanding of the consumer.
9. Focus on the specific target audience, rather than broad
Most often a marketer estimates the total size of a market, say Rs 500 mn and calculate if we get at least 10% of the market share our earnings will be $50 mn in the first year itself. However, we are ignoring the competition, margins in the industry, typical ad spends or marketing promotion is not factored in.
Moreover, developing a customer profile is important as they can be visualized better, prioritize messaging to them and enable calls to action in promotional campaigns.
10. Understand big data
Until a few years ago, understanding the market dynamics meant depending on published secondary data, primary market research and more of intuition to succeed in the market place.
However, with the increased processing capacity of computers and evolution of database systems, the huge amount of data pertaining to sales, consumer buying, retail selling, online purchasing behavior are now available as structured or unstructured data.
Huge revolution in data mining and analysis has helped the marketers to use Big Data to understand consumer behavior and insights.
11. Social Media comes to the forefront
Marketers were traditionally used to only dealing with the mass media and in the physical domain through hoardings and banners. However, the rapid growth of the internet, web, social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter) has changed the dynamics of advertising and marketing promotion.
And no marketing manager can ignore the newer technologies such as mobile and mobile apps that enable them to reach the youth better, not to forget email marketing, short messaging and related possibilities before them.
It doesn’t mean that the marketer needs to understand the technical side of these new technologies but need to be tech-savvy to use the right medium to promote
Rapidly changing market dynamics, technology, recessionary trends, competition, and lower product life cycles have all made the life of the marketing manager quite challenging. Gone are the days when a company had a product that no one else could match. Even Apple finds itself in competition with a dozen copy cats within months of its new product launch.
Success in the market place means when the brand becomes the generic name for the product as in Xerox in photo-copying industry, Unilever’s Surf for washing powder, SnowCem for exterior paint and so on.
The new-age marketing manager not only needs a strategy but also good creativity. For strategy, they use the left brain and for creativity (right brain) which means the good marketer needs to have good analytical and creative skills.
They must be able to craft and support the brand strategy with research data to get the management convinced on an idea.
They should be visionaries and not having a herd mentality with no motivation to innovate. They have to seek answers to some questions at the start of every campaign or product launch- will this reinforce my brand positioning? Will it add value to the company’s existing operations?
The successful marketer has a long term perspective and not bothered about short term gains. Salespeople push for short-term promotions and price discounts or new product launches that dilute the value of the existing brand.
Simplicity in communication is a must for every marketing manager especially in devising campaigns. All that a brand has got is a few seconds of the consumer to make a good first impression. So it is very important to highlight the product qualities, how to use it, where to get it and so on.
Successful marketing managers have good aesthetic sense and help the design team come up with the right packaging, logos and advertisement campaigns. They also need to be good at balancing budgets for promotional activities so that better return on investment (ROI) is achieved in online and offline promotions.
Unlike the marketing head of yesteryears, today’s honchos need to be abreast with technology, current events, social milieu and cultural context in which they are operating, the values and motivations that influence customer behavior.
More often they need to have a local as well as a global perspective as the next competition could be coming from not within the country but a cheaper brand from China or Taiwan. Or it could be a cheaper product available online due to lower distribution costs.
Now pharma companies are not fighting among themselves but the new breed of marketers who sell medicines and cosmetics online at a much cheaper cost.
The new-age marketing manager needs to grapple with the opportunities and threats created by social media, eCommerce, big data, globalized business, mobile technologies and ultimately deliver a great new product or service.
It pays as most successful among them are headed possibly to CEO or MD levels in the organization.
Procter and Gamble have renamed its marketing department as brand management making them responsible singly responsible for strategy, plans and results for the brands. That’s how branding communications or (Bracomm!) has possibly come about.
This has been a Guide to Marketing Manager. Here we discuss the basic concept, tips to be a successful Marketing Manager. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –