Maybe it’s growth. Maybe it’s change. Maybe it’s a new chapter in some way. Whatever the reason for needing a marketing manager (or similar position), if your business is looking for the right person to manage your message, keep an eye on the transition.

The early time that a marketing manager comes into your business can be critical to the success of your growth plan.

But let’s back up a moment, and make sure we’re on the same page.

What exactly does a marketing manager do?

black lab as a curious dog to show a question in why the first thing a new marketing manager does is critical

The answer to this can depend on a few factors, like the size of the company, the size of the marketing department, the vertical the business is in, and the vision of leadership.

For most businesses, the core responsibility of the marketing manager is to implement and report on marketing initiatives. The role is focused on the what, like what actions need to be executed. That’s different from the role of a marketing director, who explores the why and the how of those actions.

Of course, getting into titles like director versus vice president or CMO can get to be a little much for most average businesses. And don’t even think about all the creative twists to titles many companies take nowadays.

For ease of clarification, let’s consider the marketing manager as the person in charge of running the day-to-day marketing initiatives, laid out by a director of marketing. You’ll want someone who can think for themselves of course, but you want to have a marketing manager who’s a doer, not just a thinker.

In very small businesses, this marketing manager may report directly to the owner, with the goal of eventually taking over strategy and planning like a director or VP would. It’s all about growth, after all.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s look at the early part of the journey as a marketing manager comes aboard your crew. Here’s what your new marketing manager should do first.


We all have ideas. And most of us want to bring those ideas to the table as quickly as possible. But this is where it’s important to exercise restraint. At least for a little while.

Anyone coming into a new position does well to listen first. Whether it’s listening to the owner, their direct manager, the team or other colleagues in the company, using the two ears you have versus the one mouth is key.

young boy listening to adults in why the first thing a new marketing manager does is critical

A marketing manager ready to listen is a person interested in collaboration.

They should get to know the people and processes within the company, from their manager to their peers and especially – if applicable – their direct reports.


Along with listening, a willingness to learn is vital. From learning the business to learning the vertical it’s in, someone willing to listen and learn is huge.

Learning from the business owner and/or leadership will help a marketing manager better understand the story behind the brand, the clients they already serve, and the dynamics of the team.

In addition to general learning, a new marketing manager needs to clarify responsibilities. From their own goals and duties to shared responsibilities with teammates or other teams (sales and marketing alignment, anyone?), clarifying expectations is a recipe for clear communication and success.

Offer Ideas

You likely hired this person because of their talents or experience. As Steve Jobs essentially said, hire smart people and let them work. Listen to their ideas, too.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

As your new marketing manager is getting the lay of the land, listen for their ideas. Maybe they’re experienced in podcast production or strategic pay-per-click advertising. If you’ve never thought of these tactics, a fresh perspective is helpful.

If you’re willing to hear the ideas, they’ll be more comfortable sharing them. Conversely, if they aren’t sharing any ideas, you may have difficulties brewing.

Dive In and Work Hard Smart

As covered earlier, a marketing manager is a doer. Early on in the journey, this person should be ready to dive in and work. Maybe it’s blog article drafts in the first couple weeks. Maybe it’s a social media plan and calendar suggestion. Perhaps they suggest a podcast plan to make your business the next Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, or NPR.

Whatever the case, if your new marketing manager is only interested in more meetings, more discussions, more dreams … you may be seeing a red flag. Encourage them to make progress. Set goals. Clarify expectations.

Pro Tip for Marketing Managers: Start From the End and Work Your Way Back

This one’s for marketing managers reading this. Align yourself with sales. Then, with the sales team’s support, start at the bottom of the funnel. Make sure sales reps feel supported by your plan. Make sure you understand where they’re coming from. And make sure you’re sharing with them how they can work inbound leads you’re planning to generate.

Maybe Don’t Do This

slow down sign to illustrate why the first thing a new marketing manager does is critical

Something you don’t want is a marketing manager who wants to dismantle everything you’ve done just for the sake of making a name for themselves.

A new logo. New branding. Starting over. These should be red flags if it’s their first focus.

Maybe your logo needs some attention, or maybe the website could use a little conversion rate optimization. What you don’t want is a marketing manager who’s not willing to listen or learn, and who only has the arrogant belief that everything they’re bringing to the job is perfect and the best idea ever.

Your new marketing manager should slow down and work smartly.

Bonus: Education and Collaboration

If you’re looking to hire a marketing manager – to replace someone else or to spin up a new position and maybe department – set yourself up for success.

If you understand the current marketing world a little bit, you’ll be prepared for conversations on subjects like conversational marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, lead generation, social media, and more.

Finding the right person to fit your culture will take time. I’d suggest looking for a collaborative spirit about the person so that they work well with the team, plus a drive for growth so you’re not constantly having to push them for progress.

Sounds Great – What if I Don’t Have the Time?

Finding a good fit takes time. And effort.

Finding the right fit takes even more work.

So, what happens if you know you want a marketing manager, but don’t have the time or expertise to find them? Or when you do find the right fit but aren’t equipped to provide the direction you need?

That’s when you can hire an agency that can bring both strategy, AND implementation to the table. We’ve found great success working with businesses who want to grow with purpose, who are building teams, and who need that extra set of experts to help plan and execute.

Want to know how we coach businesses on business growth, marketing strategy and more? Check out the conversion report tool we built for businesses just like yours.

Planning photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash
Curious dog photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Listening photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
Slow down photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash