Marketing is easier in theory than in practice. With tons of tactics to try and multitudes of matrices to track, a marketing campaign can quickly turn into a black hole that's constantly sucking up time and money.
However, it's easier to keep it all together when you treat marketing as a full-fledged project in its own might rather than just a bunch of related tasks. Marketing project management entails a meticulous and well-organized approach to managing the marketing activities of a business.
Businesses running marketing activities based on project management principles often enjoy benefits like greater efficiency, seamless collaboration, ease of monitoring, optimizing, and scaling operations, plus more.
In the following sections, we'll look more closely into what marketing project management entails, and why you should even care. And if you're sold on the idea, we have plenty of tips and resources to help you execute your marketing strategy like a well-managed project.
What is Marketing Project Management?
Marketing project management is the process of organizing marketing activities with time-bound goals, well-thought-out plans, and tracking and monitoring measures. There are many ways to go about it, but they all work based on a framework for completing certain tasks in a specific timeframe and measuring the outcomes.
A marketing project can cater to all things marketing, so long as it's directly related to your marketing objectives. That includes online activities like content marketing, social media marketing, paid advertising, etc., as well as offline activities like media placements, event sponsorships, etc.
As with project management of any kind, project management for marketing is usually spearheaded by a project manager, who might be answerable to some higher authority but is directly responsible for the execution of the marketing project.
Other key components of marketing project management include:
Internal stakeholders: The experts directly responsible for various tasks and deliverables.
External stakeholders: The decision-makers of the business, the shareholders, and other parties with a vested interest in the outcomes of marketing.
Project deliverables: These are clearly defined articles or tasks that must be delivered within a set period.
Defined stages: This includes milestones that must be completed within a specific time. Depending on the project management technique, the different stages might run consecutively as with SCRUM, or simultaneously as in Agile management.
Ties to overall business objectives: Since marketing is directly related to many other aspects of a business, it's important to make provisions for cross-functional activities in marketing project management
Project management tools and resources: This refers to the hardware software, rule books, templates, and other resources needed to facilitate marketing project management.
Why is Project Management Important for Marketing?
Marketing teams often pour over particular activities like PPC campaigns and content marketing so much they forget to maintain an eagle-eyed approach and keep up with other important responsibilities. Doing so can leave you with less control over the outcomes, limiting your ability to accomplish your goals.
Project management in marketing gives you greater control over your marketing activities, increasing your chances of success.
Also, the methodological process improves transparency, making it easier to identify and plug inefficiencies. By facilitating performance enhancements, project management helps you orchestrate your marketing efforts more effectively.
It also helps you organize chunks and fragments of tasks into a cohesive whole, making it easy for your team and stakeholders to access individual components as well as entire project folders. This improves collaboration and tracking, making it easy for team members, investors, and other stakeholders to keep tabs on specific aspects of the project.
Project management also eliminates ambiguity, misunderstandings, or lack of accountability in a marketing project. It devises a system for accountability, with clear definitions of roles and responsibilities, helping ensure that what needs to be done gets done on time and by the right person.
Core Stages of the Marketing Project Management Process
As earlier noted, project management marketing can be done right in many different ways. Businesses may prefer to switch up roles and processes depending on their needs. However, there are a few recurrent themes in every marketing project that's managed successfully. They all tend to follow a certain workflow.
Establishing marketing goals
It usually begins with goal setting. The marketing goals need to be clearly defined to give the project a clear scope and sense of direction. Every stage, task, or subtask in the project needs to be tied directly with the marketing goals to give them a clear sense of purpose.
Also, monitoring and performance tracking can become difficult when there are no clear goals to match the outcomes of the activities with.
After establishing the goals, the next thing is to determine how to accomplish them. This is set out in a well-rounded plan that caters to everything needed to accomplish the goals.
Here, the project team breaks down all the goals and objectives into quantifiable, trackable activities, and establishes schedules and instructions for accomplishing them. Roles are defined, expectations are established, and a budget is set aside for the mission.
The team then moves forward with the plan, executing tasks as specified in the plan. Tools, resources, and expertise are put to use in view of the project goals.
Monitoring and control
As the project rolls in, another stage kicks in requiring a specific set of skills and activities, and that is tracking and controlling. As with any project, a project manager needs to exercise centralized authority and ensure compliance with the project requirements of everyone. They need to ensure that deadlines are met, perform quality checks, and devise and manage a system for accountability and transparency.
A system for feedback is also required to provide team members with constant appraisal and promote good communication.
Reviewing and reporting
If it's a one-off project, the reviewing and reporting stage occurs after the project is delivered and goals are accomplished. The client or business owner evaluates the success of the project and provides feedback.
For recurring projects, this marks the end of one marketing cycle or a full cycle of activities where the success of the outcomes can be evaluated and the stage is set for the next cycle. Reports are also created to show the KPIs and analyze the project's strengths and areas to be improved upon.
What Exactly Does a Marketing Project Manager Do?
Central to all the above is the role of a marketing project manager, and this deserves to be explored in a dedicated section.
A marketing project manager can be seen as having multiple roles bound into one. The manager is responsible for various aspects of the project, from pooling in the tools, resources, and expertise needed to execute the project to monitoring performance, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration, and serving as an interface between internal and external stakeholders.
They join the project way earlier than almost anyone else and are often the last to leave. That's because, unlike others, they're usually involved from start to finish.
In a nutshell, the role of a marketing project manager can be summed up in three categories:
Establishing project specs:
The manager spearheads the brainstorming sessions for defining goals and creating plans. They're responsible for finding ways to bridge the gap between the marketing goals of the business and marketing outcomes.
Sometimes, they need to distill marketing goals in their raw form like increasing brand awareness and customer engagement into more concrete targets like more positive brand mentions and positive reviews, increased social shares, etc.
Identifying suitable marketing tactics and strategies
It's also the onus of the marketing project manager to choose tactics and techniques that'll work best for the project. This requires a lot of experience and research on their part.
Orchestrating marketing activities
Once the plan commences, the marketing project manager needs to take a hands-on approach to managing everything. They need to ensure that everyone is living up to their expectations and all the tasks are on track for the scheduled completion. They also need to ensure smooth communication across the board, ensuring that everyone can access the information and resources they need, from writers to social media managers, web analysts, C-suite executives, and shareholders.
Now, to accomplish all of this, a project marketing manager needs to embody specific skills and principles. These include:
Communication and interpersonal skills
Critical thinking and analytical skills
Tips for Better Marketing Project Management
Let's face it, project management marketing is no easy feat, even if it's designed to ease the pursuit of marketing goals. It can be quite challenging, even for a seasoned marketing project manager. But a few tried and true tips can make a huge difference for you.
Align on Your Marketing Goals
First, you'd want to start on the right footing. In a world where customer preferences are constantly changing, marketing goals are often a moving target. However, your ability to organize efforts and resources around clearly defined marketing goals is critical to success.
Follow the Established Process
Although there are many different ways to organize project management for marketing teams successfully, it's important to aim for consistency and uniformity. Ideally, always begin by setting goals and expectations, and then crafting a well-rounded plan based on those. Execute the plan, and put accountability and tracking measures in place as the project begins to roll out. As the marketing outcomes begin to emerge, you can analyze and evaluate performance, identifying strengths and areas that need improvement.
Get Team Input in the Planning Process
Project managers should encourage everyone to bring their best to the table. Give everyone a chance to have a voice by promoting inclusivity and autonomy, especially in the planning phase. This not only inspires your team and gives them a sense of belonging, but it also opens the door to more ideas and more fruitful brainstorming sessions.
Invest in Agility
The Agile project management method encourages flexibility, scalability, and continuity in project execution. With Agile workflows, you can prevent delays in certain aspects from impeding the overall progress of the project. That's because Agile allows you to roll out multiple stages of the project simultaneously, rather than waiting for one stage to be completed before moving on to the next.
A recent survey shows that marketers using Agile project management are 252% more likely to succeed with their projects.
Create Re-usable Project Templates
Templates can help you streamline and fast-track various processes in your marketing project. Your marketing tasks will be easier to implement when there's a plug-and-play template that only just requires filling in a few blanks. Find what works best for various tasks and aim to standardize the process and outcomes going forward with reusable templates.
Centralise with One Source of Truth
One of the major sources of misunderstandings and misrepresentations in marketing projects is the lack of easy access to original files. Team members or stakeholders using traditional methods of communication often don't have access to the precise documents needed to drive decisions and often rely on speculations and guesses to move discussions forward promptly.
An easy solution to this is a project management tool like Hello Ivy, which is a one-stop platform for stakeholders to communicate, share and access files, and monitor work in progress.
Keep a Backlog of Ideas
Lastly, as you execute your marketing projects, you'll come across many ideas, including those that don't fit into the immediate plans but could be of use in the future. You'd want to document those and keep them handy when brainstorming for new projects. Encourage everyone to do the same and build a repository of ideas that they can draw from in the future.
The Best Project Management Tools for Marketing Teams
To help you with more tips to succeed with your marketing project content, let's look into marketing project tools and what to expect from them.
The best tools are those that provide features like those for:
Team collaboration and communication
Reporting and analytics
Excellent user experience
Hello Ivy ticks all the boxes above, but unlike similar platforms, it offers a simplified experience to improve productivity. Geared specifically towards managing smaller teams, Hello Ivy gets rid of unnecessary bells and whistles to provide a frictionless project management solution.
Proficient marketing project management can be the key to bridging the gap between your marketing goals and outcomes. In this guide, we've expounded on all the different aspects, tools, and resources you need to focus on to manage your marketing project successfully.