The role of the marketing manager
For the small business, there are several different organisational approaches to marketing. The duty may lie with a single member of the team, or it could be a group responsibility. The great thing about a small team is the ability to quickly instill a marketing led ethos which can become the operational soul of your business.
Depending on budget availability and the skills of the team, you may choose to outsource certain elements of the marketing process (such as market research) or decide to do these jobs in-house. Key responsibilities of the marketing manager / director vary according to the business but can include:
- Instilling a marketing led ethos throughout the business
- Researching and reporting on external opportunities
- Understanding current and potential customers
- Managing the customer journey (customer relationship management)
- Developing the marketing strategy and plan
- Management of the marketing mix
- Managing agencies
- Measuring success
- Managing budgets
- Ensuring timely delivery
- Writing copy
- Approving images
- Developing guidelines
- Making customer focused decisions
The marketing role can be diverse or focused but now we'll elaborate further on some key aspects which should be at the heart of the job.
Marketing managers need to have a good knowledge of the customer. This means building up an accurate picture using the resources that are available. It is important to take personal opinion out of as many decisions as possible – you probably don't think in the same way as a typical customer. Information can be gathered from questionnaires, focus groups, the internet, interviews, buying habits and many more sources, but it's important that the information is examined in a scientific way using proper statistical methods. Gut feel can only take your business so far.
Development of marketing strategy and plan
Marketing planning should be at the core to any business and is usually presented in the form of a written marketing plan. A consultant called Paul Smith first developed a process known as SOSTAC® which is a useful model used to structure a marketing plan. SOSTAC is an acronym for the following elements of the plan:
Situation Analysis – where are we now?
Objectives – what do you want to achieve?
Strategy – how are you going to get there?
Tactics - what are the details of the strategy?
Actions – who is going to do what, and by when?
Controls – how are you going to measure success?
SOSTAC® is a registered trade mark of PR Smith
The marketing plan should provide direction for all relevant members of the organization and should be referred to and updated throughout the year. The main reason for the marketing plan is that it provides a structured approach that forces the marketing manager to consider all the relevant elements of the planning process which might be missed if a more rushed approach is adopted.
Management of the marketing mix
The marketing mix includes all tangible elements that allow you to market your product. This includes facilities, your employees, the product itself, the cost strategy, the process of selling, and how you promote and advertise. The extent to which the marketing manager gets involved in these elements depends on how marketing focused your business is. A product focused organization will probably start with an ides for a new product, then try and determine who is likely to buy it. A marketing focused business starts with the consumer and tried to figure out what they want to buy. Some product focused businesses are very successful but it is generally accepted that a marketing focus provides a greater chance of success.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Customer relationship management is the process of communicating with customers throughout the various stages of the purchasing process, and this includes people who have already bought from you. It is significantly easier to hold on to an existing customer than it is to find new ones, but doing this requires all elements of the marketing mix to be run well. For example, it's no use sending out a beautifully produced customer magazine if your customer service is dreadful or the product breaks easily.
It is unlikely that a small business will have the skills in-house to develop all elements of the marketing mix. Websites, brochures, and other promotional items will usually involve some form of outsourced help such as graphic design or printing. Careful management of these agencies is essential to provide an integrated marketing approach to promotion. Agency management involves the development of detailed project briefs, signing off creative work and ensuring the work is delivered on time. Depending on the volume of work which is outsourced, you may feel it is worth developing some guidelines to ensure a consistent style across different media.
An important element of the marketing manager's role which is often neglected is the process of collecting and analysing data on success. This can take the form of website hits, sales figures, market share data, customer satisfaction or many other metrics and it's important to record and track these as a core part of the marketing process.
Marketing managers have a diverse and varied job, and promotion should just be one element of the scope. Championing a marketing focussed business structure will provide a greater chance of success in today's challenging business environment and will lead to a more sustainable future.