The difference between a Marketing Executive and a Manager

What's the difference between a BD / Marketing Executive and a Manager?

Published on 2nd May 2019

Most people can agree that professional services is a fantastic industry for Marketing/BD professionals.  It can provide you with a long and exciting career if you manage to find the right company and the right role. It can be lucrative, challenging, and can build a solid pathway to your career. Which leads me onto the main area I would like to focus on...progression!

There will come a time in your career when you want more, when you feel like you NEED more! Whether it’s looking for more responsibility, more of a challenge, or in some cases a new role title for seniority. Whatever your motivations, receiving a promotion can be challenging and sometimes a daunting prospect.

Have you ever taken a step back to think, (aside from the salary and the LinkedIn job title...) what is the actual difference between an executive and a manager? How will my role change? What will I be expected to do differently? Am I ready?

After speaking with a number of professional services marketing & BD professionals who have already made this jump, let’s look at a few of the main differences that you can expect to see.

1.    Senior Stakeholder Relationships

“Both roles need to develop strong stakeholder relationships, but a manager will leverage them to effect change while an exec relies on them to deliver day-to-day activities”. James Metcalf, Senior Digital Manager

Challenging senior stakeholders can sometimes be difficult if you don’t have the confidence or are new to a company. If you’re considering taking the step up to manager, then this is something you should start to think about.

As an exec, it’s easy to feel that you’re not being perceived or valued as a thought partner to senior stakeholders, however, it’s important to realise that you don’t need to have a manager title in order to act Inquisitively and consult stakeholders when needed. This will show them that you’re adding further value and will result in building trust and overall stronger relationships.

2.    Strategy

“The biggest difference is that you leap from implementing a strategy to advising on strategy.” Yasmin Greenfield, Marketing & Communications Manager.

Before you reach manager level, you’ll find yourself implementing the strategy, but once you become a manager you’ll be tasked with the actual development of the strategy from scratch.

You will then need to ensure that you’re measuring the success, timing, and budget. Have the confidence to know that you have some great ideas and are more than capable of making suggestions when it comes to strategic decisions, not just implementing them.

3.    Team

“A manager is more focused on building team capacity and capabilities through effective recruitment and identification of other resources”.

As a Manager, you’re no longer only responsible for yourself and your own development. As you get more experienced you will start to line manage team members and be expected to recruit and even build teams.

The earlier you can demonstrate interest and start to get involved in the strategy behind growing out teams, the easier the transition will be when you become a manager.

4.    Internal Perception

“Managers focus more on leading by example and mentoring other members of staff. Your company will want to see that your peers look to you for support and/or guidance. Picture yourself as an ambassador – join some extracurricular groups if you haven’t already”.  Yasmin Greenfield, Marketing & Communications Manager.

As a manager, you’re perceived as much more of a thought partner/advisor to the business than when you were at the exec level. Think about the language you use every day in the office whether it’s communicated verbally or via email.

To make that leap to manager, you need to show your stakeholders/line manager that you’re confident in your own ability to advise. Something as simple as using language like i.e. “I’d advise that we implement the following...” rather than i.e. “Maybe we should do the following...” Start to change the language you use, then you’ll start to see the feedback needed to support your case.

There we have it! 4 main differences between being a BD or Marketing Executive and being a manager. Whether you’re already at this stage or it’s something you’ll be considering further down the line, it’s good to start thinking about these points and to start putting them into practice.

If you have any further thoughts on this subject, please feel free to drop me an email at

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