Online Executive MBA Career Spotlight: Marketing Director

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Marketing is often crucial to a company’s growth and stability. Developing strategies that leverage traditional and new media to reach current and prospective customers can help businesses grow. When these strategies are well executed, marketing can put a company front and center, reaching the right audience at the right time. When done poorly, they can yield substandard results.

Marketing directors can make the difference between a marketing strategy that works and one that fails. By applying a sharp understanding of market trends and consumer behaviors, they can lead the development and execution of strategies that consistently achieve a company’s marketing goals and objectives. Many other responsibilities fall under a marketing director’s job description, including overseeing marketing staff and managing the marketing budget.

An Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree can help aspiring marketing directors advance in their field to a role in the C-suite. Washington State University’s Online EMBA program aims to provide students with the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed as a marketing director.

What Is a Marketing Director?

Marketing directors oversee all marketing activities for their companies. They manage marketing staff and lead collaborative efforts with other teams in their organizations, including those in finance, sales, and creative.

Additionally, they’re in charge of marketing development and content, including projects, concepts, and advertising budgets, as well as communication among vendors, clients, and company managers.

These different responsibilities coalesce into one primary objective: to ensure an organization’s marketing efforts further its ability to reach new customers, retain existing customers, and ultimately grow the bottom line. A marketing director’s work helps shape their organization’s brand, which can have a profound impact on how the public perceives the company and its products and services. At its best, this impact can transform a business into a leader in its field.

Marketing Managers vs. Directors

The distinction between marketing directors and managers is more evident in large companies that have multiple brands or product lines that may have a marketing manager for each line. In these instances, all of the marketing managers report to one director, providing sales projections and updates on their product lines’ progress.

In smaller companies with only one brand or product line, the difference is less apparent. Further, a company with only one person in charge of marketing may opt to use either title.

Marketing Director Skills and Qualifications

Companies expect candidates for marketing director positions to have extensive marketing experience paired with a degree in advertising, marketing management, business administration, promotions, or another relevant field.

Through their education and experience, aspiring marketing directors can hone a broad range of skills that enable them to lead their organization’s marketing efforts. These skills can include the following:

  • Analytical skills: Marketing directors should be able to observe and deconstruct industry patterns to determine the most favorable approaches and methods.
  • Communication skills: Marketing directors should be able to convey their plans of action and expectations to a diverse team of other staff members and managers during the marketing, advertising, and promotions process. They should also be skilled in public persuasion.
  • Creative skills: Marketing directors should be adept at developing new ideas that can capture the attention of prospective customers. Ideally, these new ideas will also be designed with existing customers in mind.
  • Decision-making skills: Marketing directors should be open-minded and decisive. They frequently must make choices regarding contending marketing and advertising ideas proposed by their staff.
  • Problem-solving skills: Properly executing a company’s marketing strategies can be complex, and it’s not uncommon for unexpected roadblocks to crop up along the way. Marketing directors should be skilled in developing plans of action to resolve these issues and minimize their impact.

A marketing director points to charts and graphs during a presentation to a group of professionals at a conference table.

Marketing Director Job Description

As a department head and team leader, the job description of a marketing director comprises numerous responsibilities. While specific duties can vary from company to company, a marketing director’s core responsibilities generally include the following:

  • Keeping track of market fluctuations
  • Examining economic indicators
  • Monitoring actions of competing companies
  • Determining the needs of both current and prospective customers

Additional day-to-day duties may also include:

  • Preparing an annual marketing budget, scheduling expenses, analyzing variances, and initiating corrective actions to meet financial goals
  • Selecting, recruiting, and training new marketing employees
  • Providing experiential growth opportunities and information to develop marketing staff
  • Contributing to marketing effectiveness by prioritizing short- and long-term concerns and objectives for the marketing team and providing feedback and information relevant to deliberations
  • Acquiring market share by formulating marketing programs and plans for the company’s product or service
  • Maintaining customer relations and determining the value of the company’s presence at seminars, trade associations, annual meetings, and conventions
  • Providing market forecasts and directing the collection, analysis, and interpretation of market data
  • Identifying and assembling marketing information for the company’s marketing research database

Marketing Director Salary Range and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places the marketing director profession under the umbrella category of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for marketing managers was $135,030 in 2021. Earners in the lowest 10% made less than $77,680, while those in the highest 10%—typically in an executive role—made more than $208,000.

Several factors can determine a marketing director’s precise salary, including education level, years of experience, location, and industry.

Now is also a great time to pursue a role as a marketing director. The BLS projects 10% employment growth for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers between 2021 and 2031, creating more than 33,000 new jobs—with marketing managers accounting for more than 31,000 of those.

How to Become a Marketing Director

Because the role of a marketing director is complex and critical, a deliberate pathway works best to obtain work in this field. Aspiring marketing directors should follow some key steps to develop the knowledge and skill set needed for this role.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is typically the educational benchmark needed to pursue a role as a marketing director. However, earning an advanced degree, such as an EMBA or MBA, may help individuals stand out in the eyes of a prospective employer and prepare them for the leadership responsibilities of the role.

Work Experience

The best marketing directors have honed key skills by applying their knowledge in a professional setting, in which they’ve developed concrete strategies associated with a marketing director’s job description. Most educational programs facilitate internships that allow students to build a practical foundation for applying their skills.

Aspiring directors can continue to build their skills and apply their knowledge by pursuing entry-level positions in marketing. These roles increase familiarity with how the field works and help developing professionals learn how to analyze the consumer landscape and identify trends.

About Washington State University’s Online EMBA Degree Program

The marketing landscape is in constant flux. New methods of connecting with customers and evolving consumer attitudes continue to shape the field. Effective marketing directors are able to remain cognizant of these shifts, and this awareness can ultimately mean the difference between the development of strategies that work and those that stumble.

The WSU Carson College of Business’s Online Executive MBA program is designed to build students’ aptitude for big-picture decision-making. The WSU EMBA program delivers courses from an executive’s point of view in a fully online format to accommodate busy professionals, providing them with the flexibility to complete the program from anywhere.

Additionally, more than three-quarters of the EMBA online student body has 10 or more years of management experience, providing ample opportunities for students to build broad perspectives on leadership while also expanding their professional networks. Learn how we can help prepare you for success in a dynamic field.

Recommended Readings

How MBA Programs Demonstrate the Importance of Diversity

Is an MBA Worth It?

The Rise of Women Executives


Chron, “What’s the Difference Between a Marketing Manager and a Marketing Director?”

Indeed, “Learn About Being a Marketing Director”

Indeed, “Why Is Marketing Important in Business?”

Monster, Marketing Director Job Description Template

Payscale, Average Marketing Director Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers