How Your Marketing Department Can Benefit from Project Management

Marketing and Marketing Managers

Marketers are traditionally seen as creative individuals who mostly work independently and not particularly strong project managers. A marketing manager’s role and responsibilities are complex and includes tasks like setting marketing goals, developing strategies to achieve these goals and performing customer and competitor analyses. Furthermore, marketing experts have to interact with internal and external actors, such as stakeholders, other teams in the organization, customers, freelancers etc. Software is used regularly, for example productivity tools like PowerPoint and Word and email is used to communicate and work together. CRM systems (CRM= Customer relationship management) are also commonly used in marketing to manage and analyze customer data. The work of the marketer is getting more and more complex and project management and its tools, which was seen as the IT-department’s responsibility, are converging more and more with marketing. Project management software can help marketing experts reduce this complexity.

Benefits of Project Management for Marketing

Project management  does not automatically guarantee a project’s success, but it can help marketing teams reduce complexities, deliver better performances, shorten timelines and increase their effectiveness as project objectives and deliverables are identified from the start. This in turn can lead to a competitive advantage for the business. One of the biggest problems in marketing is the lack of organization and communication. The marketing team often works independently from other departments which can lead to disconnection and miscommunication between the teams. An understanding of project management can help decrease these problems, lessen frustrations and dissatisfaction. This in turn increases teamwork and productivity within the marketing team and with other departments.

Marketing experts can use project management to track relevant metrics such as ROI (Return of Investment), the allocation of resources and to keep track of deadlines (e.g. Kanban boards, Gantt-Charts). An effective implementation of project management can offer transparency and allows the marketing manager to assess the progress of a campaign in real-time and can either prevent problems proactively or identify and resolve them quickly, for example with the Scrum methodology. The implementation of a method like ‘Scrum’ or other agile management methods also has the benefit that while it helps the team work together more effectively, due to the fact that teams are given objectives rather than tasks, the team members can decide on their own how they will achieve the objectives efficiently and on time.

Implementing Project Management methods into a Marketing project

Marketing Game Plan

Marketing experts are often under time pressure which does not allow them to review the effectiveness of their work and strategies are often improvised last minute. This is not ideal, as it often does not yield the best results. It is better to have a clear strategy plan beforehand to implement a campaign effectively.  In Marketing a strategy plan is often called a ‘game plan’. Before starting a project (e.g. a marketing campaign), it is important to first identify what your project is and what the objectives for the project are and to clearly communicate them to the key team members. It is important to prioritize goals and to choose the right metrics to measure whether the goals were met.  It is essential to start with a project plan to coordinate activities and allocate tasks and resources so that each member of the team is aware of the overall objective and specific requirements of their tasks and everybody is on the same page.

Project schedules are not just simple to-do-lists but projects need to be divided into tasks and a specific time frame for their completion, as well as their dependence to each other needs to be specified. Some tasks might run parallel while others need a previous task to be finished before it can start. The tasks can be organized in Kanban boards (to-do, doing, done) and their duration and dependencies can be visualized in a Gantt chart and/or with the critical path method. The deliverables should also be specified so that after each task is completed it can be reviewed and assessed. These ‘milestones’ give the team a sense of achievement and help keeping them focused and motivated. It also helps the marketing team realize the importance of completing tasks quickly and avoiding delays to the project.

Track Metrics

Marketing assessment and performance scorecards can be used to evaluate the success of a campaign. Project management software can track metrics, such as the ROI, leads, sales, or planned and earned value to help measure the success of a project and whether it is going in the right direction.

Project and cost tracking

Projects need constant reviews and reassessments and the predicted progress needs to be compared with the real progress and if it does not match, readjustments are necessary to achieve the objectives of the project, e.g. not enough leads were converted into sales. This progress tracking also helps calculate risks and how to deal with them.

Outsourcing

Firms often have an internal marketing department and this is advantageous as they have full control. However, sometimes it is advisable to consider the possibility of outsourcing marketing to an external agency that might have more expertise and produce better results more efficiently and at a lower cost. Sometimes it is not necessary to complete your complete marketing efforts to a marketing firm, but it might be helpful to transfer some specific tasks. This means, of course, that there needs to be even more planning and coordinating. A project management approach can be used to communicate what results are expected from the agency and keep track of which tasks have been outsourced and which will be done internally.

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