Program and Marketing Manager Careers

A key facet of making money as an organization is identifying new products, services, and expansion opportunities and then bringing them to the right audience, and program and marketing managers orchestrate these efforts. Generally, these professionals conduct research to uncover particular consumer demands or industry trends, and this information then helps shape company programs, new products, or services. Yet, a launch is rarely enough. Instead, targeted promotional campaigns—through traditional and digital means—place them in front of the right eyes and, with time, bring in sales.

Marketing trends never come to a standstill, and what worked a few years ago is less relevant today. More and more consumers spend large portions of their lives online, and this shift, in turn, has caused digital marketing to gain more ground on print, radio, and TV efforts. Supporting this, a 2017 CMO Survey shows that online platforms are behind 27.8 percent of consumer services and 43.1 percent of education industry sales.

At the same time, consumers also want more personalization, and a message or product that doesn’t connect at this level comes across as too cold and utilitarian. Within this gap, data analytics—using structured information from smartphones, fitness trackers, and programs like Google Analytics and unstructured information from online reviews and social media—bridges this gap. In turn, program and marketing managers can create more custom, directed messaging, find what truly resonates with their audience, and review complaints to adjust a product, service, or campaign for better results.

Due to this latter development, professionals eyeing a program or marketing manager role need to be strong communicators and creative thinkers, be well versed in traditional and digital marketing technologies, and have computer science and data analysis skills.

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?

Whether in a corporate, startup, or agency environment, marketing managers serve as department and team leaders, creating campaigns, managing marketing coordinators and specialists, and working with sales, product development, and advertising personnel to obtain data and ensure all efforts align with company financial goals.

At the same time, while data lies at the heart of marketing campaigns, you have to be creative, and your team is often responsible for formulating company messaging, be it a memorable tagline, press materials, social media and blog post content, or text and visuals for billboards, brochures, and digital ads. Messaging, more often than not, is angled toward consumers—known as B2C marketing. However, in B2B contexts, you may be gearing your product and services to other businesses.

Yet, duties are not divided strictly between mathematical and creative tasks. Particularly after a campaign launches, those numbers, be it through sales, traffic, or engagement, indicate consumer response and reveal if your efforts helped increase visibility and company profits. Although limited studies and sales numbers supported these campaigns decades ago, gut instinct left room for error, leading to products or business ventures that quickly went bust. Today, data through multiple sources allows you to make more targeted projections to avoid these types of blunders. The speed at which you receive this information, too, lets you alter campaigns, messaging, and products to consumer requests.

Due to the level of responsibility involved, a marketing manager role is not entry-level, and professionals who’ve reached this echelon tend to have at least 10 years of experience, coming up through communications, journalism, public relations (PR), marketing, or business. At the same time, a master’s degree gives candidates an edge, particularly if they earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science (MS) in Data Analytics. While responsibilities vary across industries, marketing managers:

  • conduct market research and monitor industry conditions and competitors to propose new products and services that maximize a company’s profits;
  • are heavily involved in research and development, from identifying new opportunities to testing product design and packaging;
  • have to achieve specific financial and visibility goals while working within a budget;
  • oversee a range of print and digital campaigns, including PR, press, and fundraising efforts in many cases;
  • need to stay on top of marketing and industry trends while also ensuring that all campaigns and products keep customers satisfied;
  • have to ensure that branding and messaging remain consistent across all channels and campaigns;
  • regularly build relationships, including with national and local media outlets, third-party vendors, clients, and other promotional channels;
  • routinely revise campaign messaging in regards to performance and customer response;
  • have to be familiar with search engine marketing (SEM), social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and tools;
  • need to have a strong relationship with customer service but also monitor customer response online through social media platforms; and
  • have to report on campaign performance to upper management.

What is a Program Manager?

Although marketing and program managers seem like similar job titles, responsibilities differ in a few key areas. As the most significant, program managers have higher-level project management responsibilities, often overseeing a team of these professionals and providing input for multiple initiatives. Areas may be related to product development, client management, or marketing campaigns, and for this reason, program managers—compared to project management professionals—need to have a thorough understanding of marketing techniques, tools, and concepts.

Because much of their jobs involve streamlining projects and campaigns, program managers:

  • are in regular contact with other team leads, including art and creative, sales, and finance directors to discuss budgets, contracts, and marketing plans;
  • use this information to plan campaigns, be it for particular focus areas, giveaways, or media outlets;
  • offer input on the look and feel of a website or online experience;
  • participate in market research and analysis to learn more about customers and tailor programs and projects to their needs;
  • establish all processes, procedures, and benchmarks for reporting on projects, programs, and campaigns;
  • oversee the program budget and resources, and ensure funds are allocated properly;
  • look for, examine, and find solutions for potential risks within the project life cycle; and
  • report on progress, be it for project completion or revenue goals, to management.

Key Skills and Knowledge for Program and Marketing Manager Careers

From experience to education, professionals at this level need to have:

  • strong written and verbal communication skills for composing short-form campaign wording and long-form press documents;
  • graphic design and web development skills;
  • a solid understanding of business, particularly where it comes to managing budgets and distributing funds;
  • comprehensive knowledge of digital marketing concepts, including SEM, SEO, email, display, organic versus paid campaigns, and social media;
  • a firm grounding in marketing through radio, print, and television and conducting PR campaigns;
  • significant experience conducting market research and analyzing results, including with the latest tools and methods;
  • a proven track record of forecasting, developing programs and campaigns, discovering audiences, and managing branding efforts based on research;
  • some experience in advertising, journalism, communications, or business;
  • strong negotiation and customer service skills;
  • shown the ability to lead, strategize, and plan projects from concept to completion; and
  • certifications in Google Analytics and similar tools.

Program and marketing managers additionally recruit and hire members for their teams and monitor their progress. Added to this, due to the position’s seniority, professionals are recommended to mentor and sponsor promising employees to leadership or management roles. Yet, because program and marketing managers may be presenting a campaign, attending industry events, or working with third-party vendors, positions frequently involve some degree of travel.

How to Become a Program or Marketing Manager

As mentioned, professionals need a significant amount of on-the-job experience before becoming a marketing or program manager. Generally, individuals first earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, PR, journalism, business, or even English and complete an internship in a marketing-related role. 

From here, your degree and internship help with securing a position as a marketing or program coordinator. Coordinators then have the opportunity, through on-the-job experience and certifications, to become marketing specialists, account managers, or project managers. Depending upon organizational structure, individuals gain higher-level marketing skills and have a chance to show they can manage campaigns and lead teams along the way.

At this stage, you may be primed for a manager or team-leading role. To make that jump, a master’s degree is recommended, be it to learn management-specific techniques or increase your technical competencies in research and data analysis. Additionally, consider obtaining multiple industry certifications from Google, HubSpot, the Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI), American Marketing Association, or the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Career Outlook for Program and Marketing Managers

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that demand for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers will increase eight percent from 2018 through 2028. Growth comes down to overall business initiatives requiring research and campaigns to stay ahead of competitors and claim a greater market share.

Program and marketing managers work across corporate and agency environments and for well-established to startup companies. Yet, while agencies often manage a range of clients, industries in house have their own marketing teams. A high level of demand currently exists in:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM);
  • automotive;
  • finance;
  • manufacturing;
  • retail and consumer products; and
  • healthcare.

Get Started Toward a Program or Marketing Manager Career

If you’ve spent a few years in a marketing department and already have multiple successful campaigns to your name, an MS in Business Analytics (MSBA) may be the stepping stone to a career as a program or marketing manager. Learn more about our on-ground MSBA degree, or request additional information from our team.