Personality Traits for a good marketing manager

Personality Traits

Marketing involves not only the knowledge about existing and prospective markets, but it also requires a marketing manager to have a good idea of all other related aspects. Marketing itself is a challenging task, involves coordination amongst people of different types. While on the one hand the marketing manager is required to have a first-hand knowledge about the market where she/he is required to market the products or services, the manager is also required to have updated information about the production targets, so that the marketing plan can accordingly be prepared. Leading a team of marketing professionals in different regions having diverse marketing professionals requires leadership qualities in the marketing manager. Leadership is something which allows an individual or an organisation to lead. Leadership qualities are not just an asset for the individual, but it also helps other members of the team or the group. A number of researchers, scholars and writers have come out with differing styles and behavioural aspects of leadership and relevant theories. Three key theories defining leadership skills are the trait theory, the style theory and the contingency theory. The ‘trait theory' talks about the traits or qualities of a leader. This theory is based on the assumption that the person is more important than the situation. Reithel and Finch's (2007) suggest that personality characteristics of an individual have an important role to play in developing the leadership skills.

Task of a marketing manager is quite different from other managers in the organisation. While other managers are more or less concentrated on managing the internal resources of the company, the marketing manager is supposed to have HR skills together with an ability to assess the potential of the market for its products. The marketing manager is supposed to have a market orientation as well. Payne (1988) states that, development of management trait holds key towards the installation of market orientation, while other activities play supporting role. Smith (2008) states that management as such has become a far more democratic process today with managers required to win the trust of staff, suppliers, customers, shareholders and a host of other stakeholders. This in turn signifies that an effective manager is supposed to have a leading edge in deciding about a number of issues.

“We don't bring the product to the people; we bring people to the product. We make it available and those who love our style come to us” (The Economist, 2002). This statement, full of confidence comes from Dietrich Mateschitz, who has led by example in scripting a success story in a field where well established multinational corporations like Coke and Pepsi were busy fiercely battling it out amongst them. Dietrich Mateschitz, an entrepreneur from Salzburg, Austria, has done what a lot of people, who have an idea, can only dream of. He turned a belief into one of the most successful selling concepts of the last two decades. The Austrian graduate in Business Management and billionaire developed his marketing skills, amongst other things, with the German Blendax company. Since 1987, Dietrich Mateschitz is trading with his “Red Bull GmbH” to reach world leadership in the Energy-Drink sector. He tried out a different concept which helped him in creating a product differentiation amongst other beverages available in the market. In order to create a market for the product he targeted the health conscious and sports loving youth, and rest is the history. The brand label of “Red Bull” is ever since associated with strength and endurance in sporting events. In association with a Thai partner, he conceptualized the idea of coming out with catchy slogans and contemporary advertisements, which appealed to the youth segment (Dolan, 2005). In addition this entrepreneur came forward in sponsoring extreme sports sponsorships.

Viitala (2005) has explained a hierarchical model of managerial competencies which divide the competencies in six clusters iteratively in a manner integrating elements from different competency models. The six competencies are;

I. Technical competencies

II. Business competencies

III. Knowledge management competencies

IV. Leadership competencies

V. Social competencies, and

VI. Intrapersonal competencies

As has been indicated in the model, the interpersonal competencies form the very basis of the management competencies. In case of a marketing manager also the interpersonal communication holds key in convincing the marketing team to adopt a particular type of strategy. In addition, the marketing team requires interpersonal communication traits in order to win over the confidence of prospective clients. Terry (1994) says that competence for a managerial job is the product of both inherited and acquired qualities. Therefore the team leader has to be a good learner, so that he can capitalize on the stronger points of the team while trying to minimize the effects of weaker points.

The trait theory values some inherent traits or qualities of a leader. This theory is based on the assumption that the person is more important than the situation. It received some endorsement when it appeared that leaders such as Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin appeared to possess a mystical charm which captivated their followers. Trait theory assumers that;

 A leader's intelligence should be above average and he or she should possess the ability to deal with complex problems. In fact marketing often gives scope for such problems. And quite often the marketing manager is required to come out of the bookish theories and apply his/her experience to handle the situation. There are situations which call for innovative solutions and to handle such situations the leader is certainly required to have above intelligence.

 The leader should have the ability and initiative to see and deal with complex problems.

 Leaders are usually very self-confident and competent at their job.

 Leaders should have the ability to see problems in the wider context. This is known as the ‘helicopter factor'.

Citing Gilligan and Wilson, Williams (2006) states that a model based on five basic questions helps in guiding the marketing manager. If the marketing manager is able to pay due attention towards these questions, then the task becomes much more enjoyable. The questions include;

i. Where are we now? This helps in answering present position about the competition, product or service ranges, market share and financial position

ii. Where we want to be? This question helps the management in formulating the strategies and setting targets for the company.

iii. How do we get there? This question helps the management in evaluating different routes to overcome the difficulties while trying to go all out towards achieving the goals. The marketing team is supposed to do a brainstorming session while discussing all the available routes.

iv. Which Way is the best? This question helps the management in underlining one or two routes most suitable for undertaking the marketing exercise. Quite often the final decision rests with the top management, because it requires having adequate financial back-up as well.

v. How to Ensure Safe Arrival? This stage includes the implementation, monitoring and subsequent correction in the strategy. This is of vital importance as it requires the marketing manager to make good use of traits like the interpersonal communication, leadership etc.

Difficulties of a Marketing Manager

Challenge of the marketing manager is to keep tab of internal as well as a host of external factors. In a highly competitive world, in general the marketing manager is faced with a number of challenging situations like;

• How best to keep track of the products and services offered by competitors: Keeping track of the products on offer from competitors implies good research with the help of the product brochures, market reports, internet, customer's feedback, first-hand accounts etc. In case of internet, it is always ‘present' and virtually at the command of the potential customer. This is what makes the internet such a powerful and desired medium for marketing communication and if used properly it can prove to be the most reliable method for keeping track of the competitors. But, all this requires lot of time and effort on the part of the marketing managers.

• How best to know about the latest schemes launched by the competitors: Launch of a new product or service is generally kept a secret by any company till the last moment. Only a handful of people are supposed to have the info about the minute details of the plans. Therefore it is an arduous task for a marketing manager to keep track of the latest moves of the competitors and take suitable corrective action. If somehow it was found that the product pricing has not been able to match the price tag of the competitor's product, the marketing manager will find it difficult to handle the situation with the top management.

• Working out a competitor analysis: While preparing the marketing plan for a particular product, the marketing manager is supposed to look for competition in the similar products as well as competition from alternative products. For example, anti-agers, night creams, creams and gels, toner, face mask, moisturizers, cleansing wipes, exfoliating scrubs, pore strips and fade cream are similar sounding products, but they have a separate identity and market themselves as well. It becomes very difficult to win the loyalty of customers if the number of competitors and alternative products are more.

• Convincing the top management in favour of a particular policy: After having thought about a particular strategy, the marketing manager is supposed to be ready for a number of uncomfortable questions from the top management, as they would be seeking underwriting from the marketing manager, in lieu of providing the desired support. The marketing manager will be able to face such questions only if he is fully equipped to respond to such questions. This calls for a comprehensive preparation on the part of the marketing manager.

• Demand Simulation: Modern marketing techniques involve simulation of demands and projection of the sales figures with an eye on the future. This is indeed a very challenging and creative task, involving good knowledge of projection and forecasting techniques.

• Preparing a realistic marketing plan: A marketing plan has to be a realistic one not only in view of the management of the company, but in view of the prevailing market circumstances. This calls for thorough understanding of the features of the product, the market and the prospective customers. If the marketing manager fails to keep track of the latest in the market, it would mean loss of the initiative and a penetrative strategy for the company.

• Convincing the workforce to adopt some particular strategy: Ego clashes are not very uncommon during interactions amongst different people. Therefore, convincing the workforce towards adopting certain kinds of strategies might prove difficult for the marketing manager. But, the golden rule for managing such situations is to be a good listener. As marketing doesn't depend upon fixed sets of tools and principles, there should always be scope for constructive suggestions. An effective marketing manager should therefore try to include such suggestions in order to have a more acceptable and achievable marketing plan.

• Monitoring the implementation of marketing plan: The marketing plan involves a number of steps. Proper coordination amongst different teams and stages holds key to the successful implementation of the marketing plan. But, quite often problems arise when the teams fail to adhere to the deadlines or some issues crop up preventing smooth coordination amongst the teams or team members.

• Monitoring the promotional campaign: This is required not only to monitor the proper utilisation of resources, but it is all the more required to see if the promotional campaign is not inviting any undesired trouble from any quarter. Well, sometimes, if a media campaign is criticised for being insensitive to certain aspects, the issue gets highlighted in the mainstream media with frequent references to the brands and products. But, a responsible marketing manager would always try to avoid such undesired situations so that the company and brand is seen as a responsible one.

References:

1. Dolan, Kerry A. (2005). ‘The Soda with Buzz'. Forbes-USA, Special Issue. March 28 issue.

2. Payne, A.F. (1988). ‘Developing a marketing-oriented organization'. Business Horizons, Vol. 31.

3. Reithel, Scott M. and David M. Finch (2007). Leadership: Nature Vs Nurture. Chief Learning Officer, February 2007. MediaTac Publishing Inc.

4. Smith, Nick (2008). To the management born? The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Available online at http://kn.theiet.org/magazine/issues/0805/management.cfm (Jan 9, 2010)

5. Terry, George R. and Franklin Stephen G. (1994). Principles of management. Richard D. Irwin Inc. USA.

6. The Economist (2002). ‘Face value - Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz'. May 9th

7. Trait Theory. Available online at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/theories/trait_theory.htm (Jan 9, 2010)

8. Viitala, Riitta (2005). ‘Perceived development needs of managers compared to an integrated management competency model'. Journal of Workplace Learning Vol. 17 No. 7, 2005. pp. 436-451. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

9. Williams, Amanda (2006). Marketing Managers - The impact of marketing management process. Principles of Marketing. Available online at http://www.neilhair.com/wp-content/uploads/Williams.pdf (Jan 9, 2010)

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