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The marketing manager skills that matter — and one that sets you apart

Kaleigh Moore 8 min read
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People who work in the world of marketing management need to have a broad skill set. The reason: they often wear many hats and oversee many different activities.

Like what, you ask? Copywriting. SEO. Paid advertisement. Strategy planning. Data reporting and beyond. A marketing manager’s tasks are often diverse, to say the least. 

But there’s one skill that sets apart good marketing managers from GREAT marketing managers. It’s empathy.

In this piece, we’ll look more deeply at what marketing managers do and how they can become more effective, empathetic leaders.


What a marketing manager does depends on who you ask  

What do marketing managers do?

The definition of a marketing manager’s role varies depending on who you ask. Sometimes marketing managers oversee large teams with various specialized departments, while other times they’re a “one-person show” of sorts.

For example: some organizations have divisions within large marketing departments that include more specialized marketing manager roles (like an SEO content marketing manager, a digital marketing manager, and/or a social media marketing manager.) 

In many cases, however, the marketing manager has a multi-faceted role and oversees a small team and/or external contractors. Instead of being responsible for one type of marketing, marketing managers often look at the big picture and work across channels, projects, and skill sets—all while juggling different business objectives. 

And managing marketing is more than executing content creation. It requires someone who can balance a creative strategy with project details and necessary business outcomes. 

In short: no two marketing manager roles are the same. 

Marketing manager job description and responsibilities

Generally speaking, a marketing manager’s job description might include things like:

  • Planning and implementing marketing strategy
  • Leading marketing campaigns and promotions 
  • Setting goals and tracking progress for marketing-focused activities
  • Building brand awareness 
  • Tracking and interpreting marketing data 

Marketing campaigns that a marketing manager might oversee include things like: 

  • Blog/content marketing 
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Print marketing 
  • Video marketing 
  • Paid marketing/PPC

Leadership skills of effective marketing managers 

Here are three of the top skills all marketing managers need to be effective leaders. Note: one of them is a bit more difficult to learn and deploy than others…but it may be the most critical of all.

  1. Project management. Project management is an essential skill because marketing managers have to be able to manage their time wisely and complete tasks with efficiency (while keeping various plates spinning.) On that same note, the best marketing teams are empowered to be agile and can respond quickly to new situations (and have the tools to do so.) This skill pays dividends, too: Data shows that companies with leaders who focus on effective project management waste 28x less money.
  2. Copywriting. Not all marketing managers are writers by trade, but today, every person who works in marketing needs to be able to recognize the difference between effective copy and copy that falls flat. “More than other sectors of business, writing is inseparable from marketing–whether you’re pitching a project proposal or just sending out a tweet on your company’s Twitter account,” wrote Kelly Konya of communications firm IGPR.
  3. Empathy. The most effective marketing managers lead with empathy by both understanding and relating with their teams. They treat team members with respect and work to see every situation through the other person’s eyes. Not only is this great for morale, but research found 76% of employees believe an organization’s empathy drives productivity, and 70% of employees credit leaders who deploy empathy for driving lower turnover rates. By practicing empathy, marketing managers help build a more productive and sustainable team.

Of all the skills you need to be an effective marketing manager, empathy is the most difficult to develop and put in practice. It’s a crucial skill that will help you stand out and bring your marketing to the next level…but it takes some practice.

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5 steps for becoming an empathetic marketing manager 

Empathy is what sets top-notch marketing managers apart. The reason: they can relate and empathize with both the business’s customers and their internal team members. By learning how to put themselves in others’ shoes, they go from being a so-so marketing manager to one that drives results, retains team members, and keeps partners happy and motivated. 

“Empathy is the secret sauce that allows us to build an awesome product that solves a problem,” said Chen Rubinstein-Shaer, User Acquisition Team Leader at “Empathy is also the quintessential trait that enables us to deliver the right message with the right visual to the right audience. Developing this strong sense of communication through empathy has helped me become a better marketer, manager, and person alike.”

Here are a few ways to become an empathetic marketing manager.

1. Put relationships first 

As Learnloft CEO John Eades says, “A leader who puts others first creates an uplifting, motivating culture that inspires confidence among their employees.” Marketing managers who are empathetic understand the value of relationships. They prioritize getting to know each individual on their team, strive to develop deep bonds with partners across different internal departments, and strive to make sure every person they interact with is heard, understood, and valued. 

While it’s tempting to focus on business results or gaining accolades, empathetic marketing managers put others before themselves and work to serve the greater good of the organization (not their individual goals or aspirations.) 

2. Focus on one task at a time 

 For marketing managers who wear many hats, it’s difficult to stay focused on one single project (let alone one task.) But multitasking is not only productivity’s top killer—it also prevents marketing managers from deeply focusing on a single activity, conversation, or project. The Center for Creative Leadership agrees about the importance of focus: “Giving time and attention to others fosters empathy, which in turn, enhances your performance and improves your perceived effectiveness.”  

Team members can sense when managers are feeling distracted or not being fully present with them. With deep focus, quality of work and the ability to connect with others will improve.

3. Welcome honest feedback 

Along with being able to provide feedback, marketing managers need to be able to accept feedback calmly and without getting angry. As psychologist Sherrie Campbell says, “Empathic people can accept feedback without getting defensive.” 

Empowering your team to be honest and open with you will help them trust you and builds a stronger sense of rapport. Here at, we don’t believe in top-down structure because we know the best teams are collaborative and open. 

4. Ask questions

The best managers accept they don’t always have all the right answers, ideas, or solutions. Instead, they’re committed to asking questions, as these are a great way to understand how others are thinking while inviting them into the decision-making process. According to Ivey Business Journal, “Asking questions allows others to engage in independent and creative thought.” 

When your team is empowered to think creatively and play a role in decision-making, they will take ownership and feel more engaged in the project outcome. Here at, we firmly believe that teams do their best work when they’re autonomous and empowered to work the way they want to. 

5. Express your appreciation and give recognition

Saying thank you goes a long way. It tells your team you care about their work and the effort they’ve put into a project, it lets everyone know that they’re more than a cog in the ever-spinning marketing machine, and it shows they’re appreciated and valued. 

We believe the best managers give recognition and that those who take the extra step and offer words of encouragement are the marketing managers that foster strong, collaborative teams.

As Harvard Business Review notes, “People want to feel loved and appreciated at work – and if you’re not giving them that, you’re not succeeding as a leader.” By showing people they’re valued, marketing managers help their teams see the big picture. Take the time to commend a job well done.

Become a top-notch marketing manager

By following the steps above, marketing managers can develop a strong sense of empathy and build a more collaborative and effective team. Plus, with the right tools, they can more effectively guide teams and keep projects progressing at maximum productivity.

Want to get started now? Download our marketing calendar template and start getting a birds’ eye view at a glance of your teams’ work.

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Kaleigh is an experienced writer on all things SAAS at She is a Forbes + Vogue Business retail contributor on her free time.
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