A comprehensive guide to marketing management
As we enter a straining time for businesses, efficient and effective marketing is more important than ever to keep a steady flow of customers (and therefore revenue) coming in.
Is your marketing team prepared to take on that challenge? If not, it’s time to focus on your organization’s marketing management.
What is marketing management?
According to the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, the formal definition of marketing management is:
“The process of setting marketing goals for an organization (considering internal resources and market opportunities), the planning and execution of activities to meet these goals, and measuring progress toward their achievement.”
Put more simply, it’s managing everything that goes into driving marketing and sales in the business. This means creating, executing, and measuring a plan for the business to reach, communicate with, and convert its target market.
What are the objectives of marketing management?
The two primary marketing management objectives are to maximize the company’s market share within the overall industry, as well as the customer satisfaction of the consumer base within their captured market share.
Increasing market share
Market share is a benchmark measurement of how much of your industry or product category your company has captured. Because of that, it can be used as an indicator of your marketing and sales compared to your competitors (although profits and other finances make market share a poor benchmark for overall success of competitors).
Increasing market share is an important objective for marketing because it demonstrates how the market feels about your brand. A larger, growing market share can suggest:
- You’ve successfully reached and won a large portion of your potential customers.
- Existing customers repurchase products enough for new customers to create net positive customer growth.
- Your brand or product has a positive and growing reputation within the industry.
And of course, these can all be signs of revenue growth and other important objectives for the business overall.
Increasing customer satisfaction
Another important marketing management objective is keeping current customers happy. As implied in the last point, your business cannot grow if you’re losing as many customers as you earn in a month. Without customer satisfaction, your business becomes a revolving door.
Satisfied, loyal customers mean a few things for a company. They mean:
- Repeat customers that increase customer lifetime value and overall revenue
- Vocal customers that sing your praises to their friends, decreasing the cost of new customer acquisition
- Trusting customers that can be convinced of future purchases more easily
- Smoother customer support experiences and lower complaint volumes
A business’s best opportunities lie in their existing customer base. They know your product well enough to give informed feedback, but not so much that they’re too close to it, as employees may be.
And since the marketing team has the strongest grasp over the brand’s messaging and reputation, as well as relationships with the public market, marketing management are key players in improving customer satisfaction. For example, the marketing team is often the first to see new reviews on review sites, social media discussions, and more. This gives marketing some of the most informed stances on what customers think.
These are the primary goals of marketing managers, but what work does that actually involve?
Functions of marketing management
- Conducting market research of your industry: Increasing market share requires a deep and thorough understanding of the market itself. In order to do the work on the rest of this list well, your company needs to know what consumers want and need, what their lives look like, their budget and shopping habits, and more.
- Perform competitive analysis of your corner of the space: In addition to fully understanding the consumers in the market, marketing management also needs to be well-versed in who the other key players are. Marketing requires knowing the top competitors in the industry, what draws customers to them, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
- Identify unique positioning for the brand and products: To increase your market share, your marketing needs to effectively convey, “why this product over the other options?” Once management knows why customers choose your business, they can communicate this to potential customers.
- Develop a promotional plan to go to market Finally, by understanding who makes up the market, what they need, and how your company offers that differently from competitors, management can craft a strategy to communicate this and promote products.
Features of marketing management
In order to perform those objectives, marketing managers spend their days working on a variety of types of tasks, from communication-focused to more data-heavy. Modern marketing is both an art and a science, after all. It’s largely powered by technology, full of all the data you can imagine. But creativity is still required in building the strategy and deliverables that produce the results data illustrates.
This work includes:
- Communicating with the public, customers, shareholders, partners, etc.
- Planning promotional calendars and marketing campaigns
- Analyzing market trends and campaign performance
- Collecting and analyzing insights from customers
- Forecasting trends and projections relevant to the above
- Collaborating with other teams within the organization
- Managing teams within their department such as public relations or advertising
- Overseeing the relationships with and work of any outside marketing vendors such as paid media agencies
With the current marketing landscape’s focus on digital, tech is also becoming an increasingly prominent feature of all of the above responsibilities.
Importance of marketing management
Many industries are seeing drastic rough patches right now that are forcing executives to streamline, downsize, and make sure the organization is as lean as possible. Why does marketing management need to remain a priority, even as the economy heads toward a possible recession?
As Harvard Business Review put it during the previous recession:
“During recessions it’s more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional—it’s a “good cost,” essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others.”
With successful marketing management, the rest of the business benefits through:
- Consistent revenue: marketing produces revenue that helps fund the rest of the business. It’s fuel or accelerant for the rest of the machine.
- Improved reputation: marketing often oversees public relations and has the most influence and control over your brand’s reputation, which are increasingly important, especially in saturated markets.
- Better product insights: by collaborating with the product team using marketing research and analysis, product development becomes more informed.
- More targeted sales messaging: since marketers spend so much time learning about your target customers and developing positioning, they can assist sales teams with messaging and presentations for stronger closes.
What does the marketing management process look like?
Marketing is never done. It involves an ongoing cycle of:
However, those aren’t just the stages involved in marketing strategy as a whole. In addition to occurring on the macro strategy level, they also exist on the project and campaign level. So at any given moment, marketing managers have multiple projects in progress at various stages of the marketing cycle.
Let’s take a look at each of these stages of marketing implementation and what kinds of tasks are required of marketing managers in each one.
Marketing management tasks
Before new campaigns and projects can get started, marketing teams need a full understanding of the target customer, their problems, and how the product or service being offered fits into the solution.
This involves continually performing research such as surveys and interviews with members of your target market, collecting customer feedback, and researching market data and industry trends. All of this information is used later to inform the company’s own marketing.
Goal and campaign planning
Once research has been conducted and marketing management is well-informed, they can begin creating realistic goals and project plans. This will usually involve collaborating with product and sales teams to create a promotional calendar that’s aligned with product development and sales targets. Once the calendar has been established, management will work with their support staff to create a plan for the marketing-owned parts.
Leading campaign implementation
Once campaigns and projects have been mapped out on the promotional calendar, marketing managers lead their teams through campaign development. First, there’s selecting their marketing mix of paid, earned, and owned media. Within that, there’s selecting different specific marketing channels and how they fit into the overall strategy.
From there, there’s also establishing unique positioning and messaging guidelines for communicating through those channels on a campaign basis, as well as in general. Finally, there’s developing and deploying marketing copy and creative, such as landing pages, graphics, and copy.
Measuring and iterating on results
Finally, as campaigns are deployed, marketing management needs to oversee measuring the results of projects so they can optimize and iterate on them in the future. This might include generating and reviewing reports, strategizing A/B tests, and making campaign optimization recommendations.
How does marketing management differ in large enterprises?
The structure and activities of a marketing department, and therefore a large part of a marketing manager’s day-to-day responsibilities, will depend on how big your organization is. Marketing in small businesses differs from marketing management enterprises, for example.
In larger enterprises, marketing teams not only collaborate with other teams in the company more often, they’re also often made of multiple teams themselves. The marketing wing of an enterprise might be organized by:
- Channels: email, social, mobile, print, etc.
- Customer journey stage: acquisition, activation, retention, etc.
- Types of campaigns: product, brand, etc.
- Job function: content, creative, design, public relations, etc.
Additionally, enterprises may use third parties like agencies, consultants, or contractors to supplement in-house resources. These more complicated team structures bring a unique need for flexible, cross-departmental planning, systems, communication, and more.
Integrated marketing management
Integrated marketing management is when you have multiple channels, campaigns, resources, teams, and more working together towards a larger initiative or goal. This can give your organization more momentum and amplify the overall results of the marketing team by focusing all efforts on related projects, as opposed to spreading the resources across multiple promotions and campaigns in different places.
For example, with integrated marketing communication, a brand’s email marketing campaigns, offline advertising, online advertising, and social media content would all be focused on a similar campaign or product at a given time. The impact of the whole initiative becomes greater than the sum of its parts, but can create a complicated web of projects for management to keep track of.
What is the relationship between sales and marketing management?
A final key component of the marketing management process is collaborating with sales. As previously mentioned, marketing is responsible for bringing customers through the doors. Sales is responsible for wooing them from there. This means sales and marketing management must work together for a smooth customer experience from one stage to the next.
The teams need to be in alignment in terms of messaging and positioning the product, which projects or products are prioritized, and more. Management should meet and communicate regularly to share results, data, and ideas.
What are the different marketing management philosophies?
There are a few different basic ways to approach marketing management, known as the marketing management orientations or concepts.
The 5 marketing management orientations to be familiar with are:
- Product concept: this is the simplest marketing orientation, in which strategy starts with the product. The overall business and marketing strategy focuses on creating and improving the product first and finding customers for it next. While it may sound logical on the surface to focus on product quality, it’s actually possible to pay too much attention to this at the expense of other important components of marketing.
- Production concept: the production concept orients business strategy around production and convenience. The focus is on making products available to target consumers more easily and affordably through optimizations in production and distribution. It can be effective in markets or industries with little competition, where being first to market or most widely available can become a first mover’s advantage long-term, but this isn’t always the case.
- Selling concept: this marketing management orientation assumes that consumers aren’t actively seeking or wanting the product and need to be actively and frequently sold to to make up for it. You commonly see this in industries like insurance where by the time the consumer needs the product, they’ll want to already have it. However, this focus on hard sales doesn’t work in many situations.
- Marketing concept: the marketing orientation focuses on maximizing value delivered to the customer and their overall satisfaction with the company. As opposed to the previous orientations, this is less oriented around the company itself and begins to look more at the needs of the consumer. Instead of creating a product and then finding the right customers for it, development starts with what the customer needs and products are created and marketed to meet them.
- Societal marketing concept: finally, the societal marketing orientation takes the marketing concept and extends it out further, beyond the individual customer. With this approach, in addition to meeting the customer’s situational needs, the organization aims to improve their overall wellbeing and that of society.
Which approach is best for any given organization will depend on factors such as the markets it wishes to enter, its competitive landscape, needs and values of the target customer, and the saturation and sophistication of their target market. All of this is up to marketing management to evaluate.
Marketing management resources
If you’re looking to improve your strategy, decision-making, and leadership as a manager, the following marketing management resources will be helpful to save and learn from.
Marketing management books
- Principles of Marketing by Philip Kotler: Philip Kotler is referred to as “the Godfather of Modern Marketing,” this book is a textbook worth looking at if you’ve never studied it. It introduces you to the marketing process, understanding marketplaces and consumer value, creating your marketing mix, and creating a marketing plan.
- This is Marketing by Seth Godin: Seth Godin is a business and marketing expert who’s written over a dozen books about how they’ve both changed over the past few decades. “This is Marketing” is an overview of the overall approach and insights expanded upon in his previous works and helps marketers face how to adapt to changing markets and audiences.
- Obviously Awesome by April Dunford: Obviously Awesome is a comprehensive dive into positioning products so that the rest of the marketing process feels easy. As a positioning and market strategy consultant, April Dunford has developed a simple, repeatable process for finding the best way to position and market a product, one of the more elusive (and for that reason, less frequently discussed) aspects of effective marketing management.
Marketing management articles
- What Creativity in Marketing Looks Like Today: Harvard Business Review interviewed dozens of marketing executives across dozens of top brands to ask them what they thought creativity in modern marketing looks like. The various answers show that in today’s saturated landscape, creativity is less about unique slogans or artistic design and more about thinking of creative solutions to the customer’s and company’s problems.
- What is Blue Ocean Strategy?: Along with Obviously Awesome, Blue Ocean Strategy is a must-read to market products in competitive industries. A simplified summary of the book by Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne, this article breaks down the different types of markets, red oceans and blue oceans. Understanding the difference between them and how to position yourself in blue oceans is crucial for marketing leadership.
- Five Trends Shaping The Future Of Marketing: This trend breakdown from Forbes’ Agency Council looks at how technology is shaping marketing. From data hygiene and ad blocking to artificial intelligence and conversion tracking, it discusses how different consumer and business trends will change how marketers connect and communicate with customers.
Marketing management case studies
- How Starbucks’ Growth Destroyed Brand Value: this story is a case study in growing and scaling too fast at the sake of customer experience and brand perception. It looks at how Starbucks’ growth strategy and how in order to become such a household name and staple on every corner, it had to sacrifice the very things that originally made it unique. In order to keep the pace, it diluted its offerings with too many products and opened too many stores too quickly. It shifted to a new marketing orientation. Eventually, scaling too fast caught up with the company and they needed to downsize.
- The Success of Patagonia’s Marketing Strategy: In contrast to Starbucks’ shift towards the production orientation, this marketing management case study looks at the success of a societal marketing concept. Patagonia is known for its focus on environmental responsibility and anti-consumerism that often makes choices that seem counterintuitive, like encouraging its customers to shop less. As the results summarized in this case study show, this only makes its target customers more invested in and loyal to the brand.
- How a 75-Year-Old Brand Changed Digital Marketing Forever: You’re likely familiar with the viral Old Spice commercial and social media campaign that launched a new era of the brand. But this study breaks down the thought and strategy behind the campaign, what brand challenges it was created to address, and how successful the results were.
Marketing management software
The modern marketing manager is overseeing multiple teams, on multiple projects, all at different stages of the implementation process. Those projects can span half a dozen different marketing channels and include hundreds of different assets.
This involves using a lot of different tools, from marketing automation software to deliver integrated marketing campaigns to real-time chat solutions to communicate with other teams you’re collaborating with.
The following tools will be useful for managing it all:
- Slack is a messaging app that lets you chat both synchronously and asynchronously via text and audio.
- Mailchimp is an integrated marketing platform that lets you manage email marketing, web and landing pages, ad campaigns, and more from one software.
- Google Drive or Dropbox allows your whole organization to easily share files, data, and other assets needed to collaborate effectively.
- monday.com is a Work OS that lets your team build custom workflows to manage and organize all of the above.
Marketing managers have a great deal of responsibility to the rest of the organization and are facing tremendous challenges from changing technology and consumer behaviors. But with the right approach, resources, and tools at their disposal, you can be prepared to face it all head-on.