The ideal marketing manager for an SME in 2015

January 2015

I was recently reading two conflicting articles in Marketing Week, with one advocating that marketing roles should all now be specialist – e.g. PPC management, SEO and social media etc. – with another suggesting that there was more value in employing generalists. This might be a worthy discussion for large businesses, but for most SMEs there’s no debate to be had because it’s highly likely that just one marketing person will be employed, with much of the technical specialist work being contracted out.

Being currently involved in helping a client employ a new marketing manager and having been involved in the same process for other clients in the last few years, it got me to thinking what sort of person the ideal candidate would now be. So here’s my four-point criteria:

1. Superb English language skills

I’ve put this one first because it really is a prerequisite for any marketing manager, in any business, and in any sector or industry. For some specialist roles such as technical SEO and more general web development it matters rather less, but even here it’s hard to avoid having the ability to string a fully coherent sentence together which is not only grammatically correct, but also stands half a chance of being engaging.

2. Broad experience – and not just digital

Becoming a marketing manager should normally mean the person has worked at more junior positions such as marketing executive, and here they will have been involved in everything from social media management, buying printed and digital media, to helping to organise trade or consumer shows. Such broad experience is essential, because without it the person is unlikely to be able to align the right tools to any given marketing strategy – not to mention having little idea of relative costs. On the question of technical digital skills such as SEO and advanced PPC management, all that’s needed is a sound understanding – the bulk of the work is usually best outsourced anyway.

3. Great people skills

I’ve actually employed people with lesser technical skills but greater people skills over those the opposite way around. And I’ve done that because so much of the day-to-day job is about positively influencing others, be it to sell-in a piece of strategic work, a creative idea, or even just getting a good deal on press and web advertising.

4. Commitment and determination

And finally, a marketing manager’s job is never going to be a nine-to-five one, and if any candidate thinks it is then they chose the wrong career. I’ve often said that if a great idea is going to make a business money, then best get it started today rather than putting it off to tomorrow.

So there it is, and note there’s nothing about ‘bright young graduates’ – they’ve got a job or two to do at a more junior level before they’re ready for a manager’s role.

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