The marketing skills you need to be a successful brand leader

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

There are marketing skills, behaviors and experiences you must collect throughout your marketing career. While many will show up naturally in your career, it is possible for you to end up with specific gaps due to specific jobs you have along the way. 

This is a great opportunity to assess where you stand and which gaps you need to address. 

To achieve your full potential in your marketing career, brand leaders must know the skills it takes to think strategically, define your brand positioning, build a brand plan that everyone can follow, inspire creative marketing execution to drive brand growth, and analyze the performance of your branded business. 

You need to be able to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  1. Concerning strategic thinking, you need to use challenging and interruptive questions, take a holistic view of your brand, lead strategic debates on the issues, and make smart strategic decisions.
  2. To define your brand, you need to know how to find your consumer target, understand the potential functional and emotional benefits, create an ownable and motivating brand positioning statement, then build out your brand idea to guide every consumer touchpoint on your brand. 
  3. To write a brand plan, the skills you need are to lead all elements of the plan, turn your strategic thinking into strategic objective statements, present to senior management, and develop smart execution plans. 
  4. For marketing execution, are you able to write a brief, lead the project management aspect of all execution, inspire your experts, and make smart decisions? 
  5. When it comes to analytics, you need to be able to know the sources of data, dig into the data, lead a deep-dive business review, and write analytical performance reviews.

I have broken each of these five marketing skill areas into 20 overall marketing skills you need to be a successful brand leader. In our Beloved Brands playbook and B2B Brands playbook, we provide every tool you will ever need to know so you can run your brand and achieve your full potential.

The 20 brand management skills

1. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a skill you need to go beyond the manager level. Too many marketers are so busy that they do not even have time to think. The best brand leaders do the necessary critical strategic thinking to find ways to win in the market. Strategic thinking is an essential foundation, forcing marketers to ask big questions that challenge and focus brand decisions.

There are four ways to enhance your strategic thinking, using the brand’s core strength finder, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situational strategy. 

As you frame your strategies, learn to think and then talk in a way that lays out the vision for your brand, focuses your limited resources on breakthrough points, takes advantage of opportunities you see in the market, finds early wins to leverage to give your brand a positional power to drive growth and profits for your brand.


The four strategic thinking skills you need:

  1. Ask the right interrupting and challenging questions to help slow your brain down to a reflection speed. Make sure you understand the issues surrounding the brand before you reach for solutions
  2. Take a 360-degree strategic view by looking at your brand’s core strength, how consumers engage, the stance your competitors are taking, and the current business situation you face
  3. Able to lead a well-thought strategic debate across the organization. Ensure sales, operations, product development, and senior leaders have their say.
  4. Make smart strategic decisions that map out a vision, focuses the brand’s limited resources, takes advantage of an opportunity, gains an early win that can be leveraged to drive added power or profits.


Our Beloved Brands training programs will enhance your strategic thinking

Use our playbooks to engage our ThinkBox 360-degree strategic thinking model with specific chapters that help you engage your brand’s core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy, and situation you face. We show you how to build everything around your brand’s core strength with examples of brands that focus on their product, story, experience, or price. 
We explain how our brand love curve helps you think about ways to tighten your brand’s bond with your consumers, with specific game plans for brands at each stage of the brand love curve, whether your brand is at the unknown, indifferent, like it, love it or beloved stage. 
And, we show you how to think strategically about the competitive battles you face, whether your brand is a power player, challenger, disruptor, or craft brand. Finally, you should always think strategically within your brand’s current situation to show how each requires a different strategy and leadership style. 

2. Brand Positioning

Too many marketers are trying to be everything to anyone. This strategy is the usual recipe for becoming nothing to everyone. The best brand leaders know how to define their brand. They start by targeting a specific motivated consumer audience and then define their brand around a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and ownable. 

You have to know the fundamental ways for how to write a winning brand positioning statement with four essential elements: target market, competitive set, main benefit, and reason to believe (RTB). 

Learn how to build a brand idea that leads every touchpoint of your brand, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and experience. And finally, you have to know the tools for how to write a winning brand concept and brand story. 


The four brand positioning skills you need:

  1. Define your ideal consumer target. Build out consumer profiles framed with need states, consumer insights, enemies, and the desired response.
  2. Take a consumer-centric mindset to turn brand features (what you do) into functional benefits (what consumers get) and emotional benefits (how it makes them feel)
  3. Find a winning brand positioning statement that is own-able for your brand and motivates consumers to build a tighter bond with the brand.
  4. Develop a brand idea that is interesting, simple, unique, inspiring, motivating, and ownable. You must be able to stretch that brand idea across every consumer touchpoint, including the brand promise, story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience.

Our Beloved Brands training programs will help improve your brand positioning skills

We believe brand positioning statements starts with defining your target market. You will learn how to define your consumer insights, enemies, and need states. You will have access to our consumer benefits ladder tool to help you build your brand around consumer benefits. 

From there, you can use our functional benefit cheat sheet and emotional benefit cheat sheet to help you narrow down your choices to focus on those benefits that are motivating to consumers and ownable for your brand. You will learn to complete the brand positioning statement with brand support points and claims. 

Once you have your brand positioning statement, we take you through step-by-step processes to build out your brand idea, brand concept statement, and brand story.

3. Brand Plans

Too many marketers focus on a short-term to-do list, not a long-term plan. The best brand leaders write brand plans that everyone in the organization can follow with ease, including senior management, sales, R&D, agencies, and operational teams. 

You have to know how to write each element of the brand plan, including the brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. You must be able to build execution plans, including a brand communications plan, an innovation plan, and an in-store plan.


The four brand planning skills you need:

  1. Lead the development of all elements of a smart brand plan; creating a plan a vision, purpose, goals, issues, strategies, and tactics.
  2. Know how to turn strategic thinking into smart strategic objective statements that can stand as the foundation of the brand plan
  3. Able to use the brand plan presentation to convince senior management to follow the issues and strategies you lay out and garner the necessary support across the organization.
  4. Develop smart execution plans that deliver against the brand strategies and steer each execution team to stay on strategy.

Our Beloved Brands training programs outline how to write brand plans 

We start with our five strategic questions tool that acts as an outline for your entire plan. We believe every plan should start with an inspirational brand vision statement that frames your entire brand plan. You will be challenged with some tools and examples to write your vision, purpose, and values. You can use our summary tools of your brand’s situation analysis. 

I will show you how to map out the key issues your brand faces and then write smart brand objective strategy statements. To set up the marketing execution, you will learn to write specific execution plans for brand communications, innovation, and in-store. You can use our ideal one-page brand formats for the annual brand plan and long-range strategic roadmap.

4. Marketing execution

Too many marketers are becoming task-masters and stepping over the line into execution. The best brand leaders need to inspire experts to produce smart and creative execution. You need tools and techniques for judging and making decisions on creative advertising from your agency.  For judging execution, I use the ABC’s tool, believing the best executions must drive Attention (A), Brand link (B), Communication (C), and Stickiness (S). I also have a checklist for you to use when judging executions. One crucial skill is being able to give direction to your agency to inspire and challenge great execution.


The four marketing execution skills you need:

  1. Our Beloved Brands training programsWrite strategic, focused, and thorough creative briefs that will inspire great work from those experts who will execute on your brand’s behalf.
  2. Capable of leading all marketing projects, whether they are on brand communication, innovation, selling, or experience.
  3. Able to inspire greatness from experts at agencies or throughout the organization to offer their greatest work on your brand.
  4. Makes smart marketing execution decisions that will help tighten the bond with consumers, but the brand into a more powerful position and drive long-term success that matches up tot he strategy.


Our Beloved Brands training programs will challenge new thinking and skills

I want you to understand the crucial role of the brand leader in getting great creative execution. Be the brand leader who can successfully manage the stages of the advertising process. 

You can learn to transform your brand communications plan into a creative brief, with a chapter that goes through each line of the creative brief with examples of the smartest and worst. 

You will learn how to make decisions at the creative meeting, using our instincts checklist with our ABC’s advertising decision-making tool at the core. Challenge yourself to give inspiring feedback on advertising that pushes for great work. Build your media planning with six media questions and line up media choices to where consumers are most willing to engage with your brand

5. Analyze performance

Too few marketers take the time to dig into the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it to discover meaningful insights. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics. You need to know how to create a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumers, competitors, channels, and brand. And, you need to be able to turn your analysis into a written report or a presentation for management. You need to know brand finance, to know every financial formula you need to run your brand.


The four analytical skills you need:

  1. Understand all the potential sources of brand data you can use to evaluate the situation. These include market share, consumption, shipment data, brand funnel, advertising tracking, market research studies, and financial statements.
  2. Know how to dig deep into data, using draws comparisons and development indexes to find the data breaks. Draw out insights and conclusions that you can turn into a story to help your team debate and make decisions.
  3. Able to lead a best-in-class 360-degree deep-dive business review for the brand that looks at the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors, and the brand results to give a holistic view of the brand’s performance.
  4. Once you have all your findings, you need to be able to write analytical stories that include performance reports and key issues presentations. Then, you need to be able to outline the strategic implications of the brand’s current situation.

For more detail on the analytical skills you need to know, you can use our Beloved Brands and B2B Brands playbooks

We have specific chapters on marketing analytics and marketing finance 101. We go into detail on how to analyze the marketplace your brand plays in. From there, we show you how to assess your consumers, the retail channels you sell through, the competitors, and the health of your brand. You will walk away with 60 of the best analytical questions to ask about your brand. Bring the analysis together into the drivers, inhibitors, threats, and opportunities.
In terms of marketing finance 101, you will learn all the financial formulas you need to know so you can figure out your compound annual growth rates, price increases, cost of goods (COGs), and return on investment (ROI). I will also show you how to assess your P&L statement quickly.

This chart has everything brand leaders must know how to do

Brand management was built on a hub-and-spoke system, with the brand manager expected to sit right in the middle of the organization, helping drive everything and everyone around the brand. You must know a little of everything that surrounds the brand, the balance of marketing and business.

Our Beloved Brands skills assessment tool

Taking this a step further, use our assessment tool to highlight your own marketing skill gaps. When assessing yourself or a colleague on your team, rate the individual on a 5-point scale for each marketing skill. Use this tool to identify these skill gaps you need to close, whether using our Beloved Brands book or brand training programs to close those gaps. 

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Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Beyond the MBA is our virtual brand management training program designed for the real world

You will learn how to think strategically, figure out brand positioning, write brand plans, make decisions on marketing execution and analytical skills.

This is your opportunity to gain access to world-class brand management training

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