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Marketing Manager

How to Become a Marketing Manager: 4 Soft Skills to Develop to Lead

Competition for customers is as fierce as ever. Businesses are looking for every advantage when it comes to attraction and retention. So, it’s no wonder they’re investing heavily in their marketing departments. Did you know that email marketing campaigns can generate a return of $36 for every $1 spent? But marketing teams are growing and becoming more specialized. So businesses need to recruit and develop capable leaders to maximize their success. If you’re tempted by the role of marketing manager but don’t know where to get started, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll take a look at exactly what a marketing manager does so you can see if it’s a good fit for you. We'll also dive deep into the qualifications and experience needed for the job. Plus, we’ll look at the soft skills essential for success. Not sure if you have them all? Don’t worry! They’re all skills we can help you develop through our free personalized coaching service. Let’s get started.

Illustration of a woman showcasing what she learned on how to become a marketing manager through industry trends and campaign ideas

What do marketing managers do?

So you want to be a marketing manager? Not surprising, given the role was recently ranked 24th in a list of the 100 best jobs.2 But what exactly do marketing managers do with their days?

As a marketing manager, you’ll contribute to the marketing strategy. This might involve analyzing industry trends and pitching campaign ideas. You’ll also closely track what competitors are doing. 

Once campaigns have been agreed upon, you’ll be responsible for them. From planning to implementation, you’ll need to allocate tasks and coordinate resources. You’ll also need to track how successful marketing initiatives are against a variety of metrics. These metrics will depend on which channels you use. For example, you might track total website traffic or social media engagement levels.

You might also develop content. This could include blog posts for the business website or tweets for their social media channel. Or perhaps an email drip campaign to nurture new leads. You’ll also need to build effective internal and external relationships. These might include working with other teams in the business, such as sales and customer service. Or you might need to establish brand partnerships. Or successfully manage creative agencies and vendors.

Marketing managers are also responsible for the leadership of their teams. You’ll need to manage their work and offer feedback. You’ll conduct performance reviews and build personal development plans. You’ll need to help connect the team to the wider business mission and vision. You’ll also help motivate the team and provide them with support and guidance.

What are the skills needed to become a marketing manager?

Successful marketing managers need a blend of both technical and soft skills. Let’s look at the top five soft skills needed below.

Communication skills

As a marketing manager, effective communication skills are a must. As a team leader, you’ll need to articulate clearly your team's vision and goals. You’ll also need to communicate the work that needs to be done and who’s responsible for doing it. 

Marketing managers also need to build productive relationships with other internal teams. Strong communication skills help facilitate those relationships. You’re able to clearly express what you need from others and what they can expect from you. Setting these boundaries means work is completed efficiently and nothing is missed or duplicated. 

Marketing managers also work with senior stakeholders. You’ll need to be able to effectively communicate your campaign ideas. And you’ll need to keep senior management up to speed with how projects are progressing. Good communication skills are important for clearly outlining requirements when working with external vendors and creative agencies. 

Critical thinking

As a marketing manager, you need to think critically in order to solve problems. Part of the role involves analyzing trends and data points to mitigate issues or pursue opportunities. If your metrics suggest a campaign isn’t working, how are you going to change it for the better? Are you using the wrong channel? Did you get your audience segmentation wrong?

Being able to critique the information you’re receiving in order to find a solution is an essential skill for marketing managers. And it’s not just related to problems. Market or competitor analysis might present an untapped opportunity. You’ll need to work quickly to plan and implement a campaign to take advantage of changing circumstances. 

Good critical thinking skills involve putting your emotions aside. Critical thinking requires the objective evaluation of an issue to form an astute judgment. So marketing managers also need to be able to control their feelings and think clearly. This is true even when they’re under pressure or emotionally invested in an outcome. 

Organizational skills

Marketing managers may have several different projects on the go at once. Staying on top of campaigns across several marketing channels requires strong organizational skills. It’s crucial that marketing teams stay on top of content planning and implementation. 

For example, poor organization may mean the weekly email newsletter content is late. Or that you miss an opportunity to coordinate your social media messaging with the latest product launch. Not providing timely, relevant, and interesting content for customers has a business impact. It can result in decreased engagement and customer churn. 

Marketing managers need to plan and coordinate the resources to deliver against the team’s goals. This requires excellent organizational skills to ensure that work is delegated effectively. Tasks also needed to be planned in the correct order. It’s no use having blog content ready to be published if you forgot to brief the design team!


Excluding finance, marketing might well be one of the most metric-driven functions of a business. Different channels have several different performance indicators of interest to senior stakeholders. 

For example, conversion rate and cost-per-acquisition are common company revenue metrics. Likes, shares, and mentions help you measure engagement. The volume of organic traffic, keyword rankings, and the number of backlinks generated help you assess your search engine optimization strategy. 

It’s critical that marketing managers can make sense of all these various bits of information. They need to analyze the data in order to monitor performance and make informed decisions. Strong analytical skills will help marketing managers set appropriate goals for the team. They’ll also help marketing managers communicate effectively with senior stakeholders about the key indicators that measure campaign performance.

Leadership skills

Marketing managers need to know how to get the best from each member of their team. This requires strong leadership skills. They need to know how to motivate and develop their team members effectively. Marketing managers need to offer positive and developmental feedback. This helps their team members grow in skill and confidence. 

To keep their team members engaged, marketing managers need to help them connect with the overall vision. Team members need to understand how their work contributes to the business’s success. Marketing managers are responsible for setting performance standards. They’ll also need to build an effective workplace culture. They need to lead by example and role model the behaviors they expect from their team members.

Without strong leadership skills, performance can suffer. This means marketing managers also need to be self-aware. They need to appreciate where they excel as leaders and where their blindspots are. A growth mindset helps marketing managers develop the leadership skills they need to best support their team.

Develop these essential marketing manager soft (human) skills

To become a good marketing manager, you need to invest in your soft skills. Strong analytical, critical thinking, and organizational skills are crucial. They help you to analyze data, set appropriate goals, and delegate work effectively. Good communication and leadership skills help you build the relationships that set your team up for success.

At F4S, we like to think we know a little bit about soft skills development. After all, we’ve been studying the motivations behind these types of skills for over 20 years. Our people analytics tools provide detailed insight into the attitudes and behaviors needed to succeed. 

Why not get started with our assessment today? It’ll help you better understand your own motivations. Plus, you’ll learn how your motivations relate to various essential marketing management skills. 

And once you’ve completed the assessment, Coach Marlee will offer you personalized insights. These insights are a springboard to improving your performance. As well as feedback on your motivations, you’ll get insights related to any blind spots.

You can use this information to set a personal development goal or learning plan. Then use F4S’ free coaching to maximize your performance and excel in your marketing management career.


You value verbal comms - in person meetings, phone calls, audio recordings, voice memos, podcasts etc.

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Systems and strategic thinking

Strategic thinking involves understanding how things are connected, setting targets, identifying priorities and having the resilience to follow through on your goals.

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Leadership skills

Energy towards becoming a compelling leader.

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How long does it take to become a marketing manager?

Unsurprisingly there’s not a clear answer to this question! Becoming a marketing manager depends on several factors. These can include your formal education, training, and experience.

What higher education is required?

It’s critical that marketing managers have a good grasp of the technical skills that go with the job. But these don’t have to be learned through a marketing degree. While a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business will certainly be helpful, it’s not necessary for the role. 

Once you reach a managerial position, industry experience is likely to be more important in helping you secure a role. But, of course, industry experience is often gained through more junior positions. And a relevant undergraduate degree will make you more competitive for those roles. 

To help you stand out even more, you might decide to enroll in a higher degree. A Master’s in Marketing or Marketing Management can be useful. For example, Southern New Hampshire University in the US has a 15-month online Master’s in Marketing program. Completing an advanced degree program can also impact your earning potential. Marketing managers in Australia earned 48% more than their peers when they completed a Master’s degree.3

A Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) will give you a broad understanding of business operations. This can be useful when working in a cross-functional team or with senior stakeholders. Some MBA programs have specific modules related to marketing specializations. These can diversify your professional skills. The Australian Institute of Business fast-track MBA offers a number of marketing specializations. These include modules on consumer behavior, digital marketing, and new product design.

What licenses, certifications and registrations are needed?

Professional training can act as an alternative route to degree programs. Industry certifications and accredited courses can provide the technical knowledge required. 

The most well-known industry certification is from Hubspot. Through its Academy, Hubspot provides hundreds of certification courses and bite-size short courses. You can pick up some niche training in under 30 minutes. Or you can complete an accredited course of up to eight hours in length. 

If your focus is on content marketing, Copyblogger provides a Content Marketers certification. The Content Marketing Institute also offers a self-paced curriculum through the CMI University. The Google Digital Garage also provides free learning content. It does this both directly and through partners such as Coursera. 

The Australian Marketing Institute is an industry professional body. It endorses training providers based on the quality of their courses. You can apply for membership of the AMI. Membership opens the door to becoming a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM). The CPM designation is the only professional benchmark for marketers in Asia-Pacific. The Chartered Institute of Marketing provides the same service in the UK.

None of these accreditations or certifications are necessary for success as a marketing manager. However, they may make you more competitive against other candidates. Continuous professional development helps you grow your skill set. It also helps you perform better and feel more confident.

What on-job internships are typically undertaken for experience in the field?

Building experience in the field is critical for successful marketing managers. To get started in marketing, on-job internships are available. These help you build your skills and industry knowledge. They also enable you to start growing a network of contacts that might be helpful throughout your career. 

Using professional career websites, such as LinkedIn, can help you identify suitable opportunities. In Australia, both IBM and Tata Consultancy Services are currently looking for marketing interns. Procter & Gamble is looking for summer marketing interns in the UK. In the US, Google offers BOLD internships. BOLD interns join Sales, Marketing, and People Operations teams. During their internship, they help identify and solve business challenges. 

Once you secure a junior marketing role, there may be opportunities for work shadowing. Observing experienced marketing managers can deepen your skill set. Or perhaps you could cover their responsibilities while they are on vacation. This will give you experience leading a team and making management-level decisions. 

You should discuss your career goals with your line manager. They might be able to help you find opportunities to develop. For example, leading on an important or complex project. Or presenting a campaign performance update to senior stakeholders.

What advancement or specialization opportunities are there?

As more customer engagement channels open up, the opportunities for marketing specialization increase. Marketers may become specialized in a variety of areas. These include content marketing, video marketing, social media marketing, and influencer marketing. They may also choose to increase their competency in certain technical areas, such as data analytics.

Building a broad skill set can be helpful as you advance in your marketing career. Marketing managers are often responsible for multiple dedicated marketing teams. Gaining specialized knowledge can make presenting yourself credibly to your team members easier. 

Once you hold a marketing manager role, there are opportunities for advancement. As they gain more experience, marketing managers may be promoted to more senior roles, such as Marketing Director or VP of Marketing. Depending on their skills and job experience, they may also move into sales or customer success roles. Marketing managers working in small businesses may look for roles in larger, more complex enterprises.

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What are the career opportunities and outlook for marketing managers?

The job outlook for marketing managers is positive. Over the next decade, US demand for marketing managers is set to increase by 10%.4 This is higher than the average job growth rate across all occupations. Around 35,300 job openings are expected annually.5 

In Australia, more moderate positive growth is expected at around 4.4%.6 In the United Kingdom, the outlook is also good. Nearly a third of industry professionals agreed marketing had a more strategic role to play in a business's success.7 And for-profit businesses expected their marketing budgets to grow by more than 10% over the next 12 months.8 

Marketing managers are also safe from changes being faced in the Fifth Industrial Revolution. The Fifth Industrial Revolution sees a shift to greater use of artificial intelligence in the workplace. But marketing managers have valuable human skills that can’t be replicated by machines. The ability to lead, motivate, and support team members makes marketing managers valuable. The risk of automation has been cited as 4%.9 

And marketing roles continue to expand in emerging markets too. Lego Global often offers marketing internships in its office in Shanghai, China. McKinsey & Company is often recruiting marketing specialists for its Bangalore office in India.

Where can marketing managers work?

Marketing managers help create, promote, and analyze a business’s brand and brand performance. So they’re valuable across all markets and industries. They can work in both the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. 

The scope of the role can vary significantly. Marketing managers may work with a small team in a small to medium-sized business. Or they may be part of a global enterprise's large, multi-faceted marketing department. 

The role's seniority also depends on company size and organizational design. Marketing managers may be mid-level managers reporting to department heads or VPs. Or they may be more senior, reporting directly to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

There are opportunities for marketing managers to work remotely or from the office. Some marketing jobs may offer a hybrid working environment. A hybrid working environment involves working partly from the office and partly from home. This can be a good compromise. It allows marketing managers some flexibility around their working environment. However, it also means they’re accessible to team members when working face-to-face is important. This might include during performance reviews or challenging projects.

How much can marketing managers earn?

Marketing manager salaries can vary significantly. Salaries depend on the industry, specific organization, and market. Research ranks marketing management positions 14th among the 100 best-paying jobs.10 The average annual wage for positions in the US is US$153,440.11 

In Australia, the median annual wage is AUD$142,249 (US$97,533). While lower than the US, this is much higher than the median across all Australian jobs.12 In the UK, the average salary is £66,355 (US$79,999). 

Geographic location can affect salary. For example, in London, the UK’s capital city, the average salary is £70,938 (US$85,590).13 Experience also counts. The salary range for entry-level marketing managers in Adelaide, South Australia, is AUD$43k–86k (US$29k–59k).14 The range for experienced marketing managers is AUD$55k–103k(US$38k–71k).15

In emerging markets, marketing manager salaries are slightly lower. The average annual salary in India is ₹3,108,440 (US$36,490).16 However, given the lower cost of living, this makes the marketing manager role financially very attractive.

Frequently asked questions

How can I become a marketing manager without a degree?

Most people come to marketing management via a more junior position. Junior marketing positions can be obtained without a degree. In lieu of a degree, professional training can be obtained from a wide range of accredited providers. This training will give you the technical skills needed to get started in your marketing career. Experience can also be gained by applying for a marketing internship. These positions help you build your knowledge and key skills. They also enable you to create a network of professional contacts. A good network can support you throughout your marketing manager career.

How can I become a marketing manager with no experience?

Becoming a marketing manager with no marketing experience is less common but possible. Some marketing managers move sideways from other complementary roles. Some marketing managers study marketing degrees before choosing to start in another career. This education gives them the technical skills needed for marketing management roles. They may then gain experience in team management by leading a project team or as a sales manager or customer service manager. Their technical knowledge, combined with previous management experience, is valuable. It may allow them to move into a marketing manager role without direct marketing experience.

How do I become a specialist marketing manager?

Many marketing managers start with a broad qualification. This may be a degree in marketing or an accredited marketing certification. Once they’ve gained some more general experience, marketers may wish to specialize. Gaining specialized skills in niche marketing areas opens the door to specialist jobs. Specialist routes may include social media marketing, sports marketing, or content marketing. They may also include growth marketing, digital marketing, and influencer marketing. On-job opportunities may also be available. These may include shadowing other marketing specialists. This could be on internal work placements or via external partnerships.

How do I become a marketing project manager?

To become a project manager specializing in marketing projects, you’ll need project management qualifications or experience. There are hundreds of project management courses to choose from. Look for a program from an accredited training provider such as these:

  • Association for Project Management (UK)
  • Project Management Institute (US, Global)
  • Australian Institute of Project Management (Australia)
  • Axelos (UK, global delivery through PeopleCert)
  • (US)
  • (US)
  • (US)

Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of project management, try to gain experience on a project team. A secondment as a project assistant will help you understand the project environment. Combining your technical marketing knowledge with your new project management skills will make you competitive for marketing project manager positions.

How do I become a marketing analytics manager?

Marketing is highly metric-driven. A deep understanding of marketing analytics is incredibly important for insight-led decision-making. Marketing analytics managers analyze and report on the performance of various marketing efforts. This helps business leaders determine where to place their investment for the best future results. Marketing analytics managers tend to start as generalists. Like most marketing managers, they tend to complete degrees in marketing or business. They may also choose related degrees in fields such as economics or statistics.

To become a marketing analytics manager, you’ll also need strong analytical and quantitative skills. Being comfortable using and interpreting data tracking and visualization tools is also crucial. You’ll also need excellent communication skills. These will help you to coherently present complex data sets to senior management to help inform their decisions. This means investing in both your technical and soft skills is important for becoming a marketing analytics manager.

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Trevor Folsom

All entrepreneurs love data for running their business, but fall short on having any data on themselves. Since 2011, I’ve found F4S to be an invaluable asset as an angel investor in backing founders.
Trevor Folsom, Entrepreneur & Angel Investor, Investible

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  1. (2020) ‘The ROI of Email Marketing’. Available at:,
  2. Coleman Fields, K. (2022) ‘Marketing Manager Overview’. Available at: U.S. News & World Report,
  3. (2023) ‘Marketing Manager Average Salary in Australia 2023’. Available at:,,more%20than%20159%2C000%20AUD.%20...%203%20Percentiles%20
  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022) ‘Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers: Occupational Outlook Handbook’. Available at: U.S. BLS,
  5. Ibid.
  6. Australian Government: Labour Market Insights. (2021) ‘Advertising, Public Relations, and Sales Manager’. Available at: Australian Governement,
  7. Statista. (2021) ‘Change in role of marketing UK 2021’. Available at: Statista,
  8. Guttmann, A. (2022) ‘Marketing in the United Kingdom - statistics and facts’. Available at: Statista,
  9. (2023) ‘Will Marketing Managers be replaced by AI & Robots?’. Available at:,
  10. U.S. News & World Report. (2022)  ‘Marketing Manager Overview’. Available at: U.S. News & World Report,
  11. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021) ‘Marketing Managers: Occupational Employment and Wages’. Available at: U.S. BLS,
  12. Australian Government: Labour Market Insights. (2021) ‘Advertising, Public Relations, and Sales Manager’. Available at: Australian Governement,
  13. (2021) ‘Marketing Manager Salary in London, UK’. Available at:,
  14. The Martec. (2022) ‘Marketing Managers in Australia: Salary Data, Career Paths & Overview’. Available at: The Martec,
  15. Ibid
  16. (2021) ‘Marketing Manager Salary in India’. Available at:,
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