Gantt chart showing the weeks, the tasks and its development as part of a marketing project management method

How to develop a marketing project management strategy

With the coming of the recent trends in project management and the launch of the Agile manifesto, many organisations have adopted new ways of working. There’s no doubt that several disciplines have benefitted from project management.

The question remains: can project management methodology be applied to all subjects? For all those marketers out there, I have good news. The advantages of using these structured processes that have been driving successful software development for years can, and should be, incorporated into marketing.

What is marketing project management?

It’s the result of applying project management methodology to the daily work of marketing. Marketing project management is the practice of planning, executing and finishing different tasks to keep marketing campaigns on track while informing stakeholders.

This way, you ensure that throughout the project lifecycle you provide clarity to your team members and to other teams, keep your projects within scope and meet your customer’s needs. Just like when you manage a project for a product launch, a marketing professional can manage a marketing campaign.

As a marketer when you are about to prepare, or plan, a marketing campaign you also have to decide who will participate, when to set deadlines and how much budget. As well, you look into how you will allocate resources, how to monitor its development and measure its success, and what to do when you launch the campaign. Here comes the role of a marketing project manager.

What does a marketing project manager do?

The main objective of a marketing project manager is to make sure all marketing operations are running smoothly. They map out the tasks needed to complete a project to continue with the marketing strategy, ensure they are accomplished, and supervise them from beginning to end.

Consequently, the marketing project manager is responsible for planning, managing and ensuring the execution of marketing campaigns or other projects in the marketing department, as well as keeping stakeholders informed on its risks, development and deadlines.

Why it’s important to apply project management to your marketing strategy?

The main reason for investing in project management is efficiency and efficacy. This is something you are already applying to your daily life. As organised human beings, we tend to divide big tasks into smaller chunks that are easily manageable.

It goes without saying that many different parts and processes constitute a successful marketing project. So the next time you have to create a marketing campaign you can adopt this process. This comes with many advantages.

See your project status at a glance

When you don’t apply any project management method in place, you’re relying on your team members’ memory or yours every time you check on the development of your campaign. Instead, you should have better oversight of the project.

Ideally, you should control who’s working on what task and when it’s the deadline. This adds transparency and allows you to understand what’s the status of the campaign now and what it should be in a month.

Refocus marketing towards the customers

A project manager is at the centre of the project controlling all deliverables and stakeholders, both internal and external. External stakeholders include customers and end-users, and your role as a marketing project manager is to keep them informed and satisfied.

Whether it’s for a product launch or a new acquisition campaign, you should know and address customers’ needs and expectations. This is key to the success of the campaign and also to achieving a customer-centric marketing strategy.

Although not all projects are service-oriented projects, in project management the philosophy of keeping all stakeholders in mind stays. So, instead of only focusing on time, budget, and other requirements, a good marketer needs to work to achieve the client’s success.

Facilitate communication and collaboration

The bigger the project, the more complex it becomes. It goes without saying that communication and collaboration are key factors to reduce complexity and that is exactly what project management is about.

The marketing team often works with ad hoc projects, for instance, a product launch, and if they’re not approached with clear communication between the teams, they are doomed to fail.

In this case, the role of the marketing project manager is to plan the project and make sure everyone knows their tasks and who to ask when they need information. By doing so, they promote better communication and collaboration among the team and with other departments.

Insert your marketing strategy in the project management phases

Traditionally, the project management process includes five phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. This is just a methodology that can be easily tweaked to accommodate any discipline so you can lead your marketing efforts around it.

5 phases of project management represented by a brain (initiation), a map (planning), a lightning (execution), an eye (monitoring and control), and a checkmark (closure)

Initiation

In the first phase, you’ll define your goals and objectives. It’s very important that the marketing goals are aligned with the company’s objectives, so your team know what they’re aiming for.

You’ll not only determine what are the objectives of your campaign but also establish what the success metrics would be. In other words, you should define what success in this project would look like. You would put in place metrics to identify progress and results.

Planning

During the planning phase, you will insert your marketing strategy based on previously defined objectives. As a marketing project manager, it’s essential to lay out your target group.

Knowing your audience and how you’re going to approach them will secure you a better reaction from them and increase your chances of a successful campaign. At the same time, you’ll need to define the tone and messaging to convince your target audience.

Execution

Don’t get fooled by the name, it’s not only about updating the project status, but also scheduling and allocating resources. In this phase, you define the scope of the project and start distributing the task.

But before assigning tasks right and left, you must understand what resources you have at your disposal and the bandwidth of your team members. It’s then when according to the scope, resources and time available, you can create a timeline or roadmap.

A visual representation of the timeline, such as a Gantt chart, will come in handy to foresee dependencies between tasks and risks. You’ll start getting things done and launch the campaign.

It is during this phase that you’ll do the campaign launch. You have scheduled and prepared when this should happen, now you only need all the assets and deliverables, such as emails or stock pictures for ads, and the action plan, like the channel distribution.

Monitoring and control

As its name indicates, you will start monitoring the development of your campaign. You will manage tasks and subtasks and watch the progress to make adjustments as the campaign moves forward. You’ll start encountering risks or difficulties to address at the moment, for example, sending extra communication or removing one segment from your target audience due to GDPR.

At this stage, you must review the plan and ensure that the tasks, scope, budget, risks, and schedule are being effectively managed. With those KPIs that you previously defined in the initiation phase, you can monitor such progress of your marketing project.

Closure

It is at the end, during the closure phase, that you review the project and discuss what went well and what you could have improved. You make sure to learn from it and set standards for future campaigns.

This is also the moment of documenting all the important information and gathering all the project’s data. This is a good time to check if your numbers don’t add up in your marketing analytics tools and make sense of them. At the same time, this documentation will be key when informing internal stakeholders of the success of the project.

If you don’t work in a big organisation or depend on such stakeholders, it’s still relevant to document. This will help you to always keep track of everything you’ve done, do and will do, the good and the bad, so you can only get better.

Whether your business is digital or physical, applying project management methodology to your marketing will make your work much more efficient and effective. It’s about being more organised in your action while maintaining a both proactive and reactive approach to your environment.

Ideally, you should use all the stages, but if you’re a small business and don’t have a marketing team, don’t worry —  small business owners can use these planning, execution, and monitoring to manage their marketing efforts in a better fashion. You can do the closure for later if you’re flying solo.


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