Are your internal marketing department currently struggling with managing multiple projects? Or are you a marketing agency handling many clients and projects simultaneously?
The success of any marketing team (and marketing agency) is measured by how efficiently and effectively it utilizes its available resources, including personnel while handling projects. It's not easy!
Handling multiple projects for multiple clients and ensuring all of them stay within deadline and budget can be easier said than done. This is why properly implementing project management is essential in marketing and will increasingly become more important as the marketing team or agency grows.
In this ultimate guide to marketing project management in 2022, we will explain what marketing project management is and how you can use it to improve your marketing team's success.
By the end of this guide, you'd have learned about:
What is project management for marketing?
Common challenges in marketing projects
The anatomy of marketing project management
The role of a project manager in marketing
How to leverage project management solutions to assist your marketing team
Let's begin with the basics.
What is Marketing Project Management?
Marketing project management refers to the methodology used to plan, supervise, and execute marketing-related projects to ensure these marketing projects stay on track (within budget and within the agreed timeline) and ensure the internal and external stakeholders get updated throughout each project lifecycle.
Marketing project management is a step-by-step roadmap for marketing projects to follow. Doing so can provide clarity among team members involved in the project, keep the projects within timeline and budget, and ensure the project's deliverables meet clients' requirements and customers' expectations.
Common Marketing Project Management Challenges
If you are familiar with the concept and principles of traditional project management, then the same principles can be applied to marketing project management.
However, there are also some unique challenges we'll need to consider when implementing project management in marketing:
Resistance to change: You may have gathered enough data about what works and doesn't work when executing previous campaigns and projects. You knew what needed to change, but initiating this change and communicating it to ensure your whole team's commitment can be easier said than done.
It's natural for people to resist change, and habits are hard to break. However, marketing project management won't be successful without your team's buy-in.
How to tackle this? Document new processes and workflows in a comprehensive way. Make sure it's as easy as possible for your team members to learn about the change and for them to find information. Also, establish a monitoring/evaluation system to encourage accountability.
Lack of transparency over resources: The larger the marketing team is and the more projects it handles, it can be more challenging to track available resources suitable for each project.
Is your graphic designer currently available? Or is she currently overloaded with the previous projects? Will you need to invest in new software solutions or purchase additional licenses?
A lack of transparency over available resources can be very challenging and will only become even more arduous the larger your marketing team grows.
How to tackle this? Consider leveraging technology solutions to help you keep track and manage all your resources across multiple campaigns and projects. Various resource management solutions can help you not only keep track of your resources but also facilitate you in assigning and reassigning resources with ease.
Scattered information: Unfortunately, it's still common for marketing teams and agencies to run and manage their projects without an organized, central hub of information.
When handling a complex project, or even worse, multiple complex projects at once, vital information shared via email can easily be confused.
Have you ever been in the situation of spending hours crawling the email threads to find the correct version of a deliverable? This is just the tip of the iceberg, and when your team members spend more time looking for information and assets rather than working on the project itself, it's doomed to fail.
How to tackle this? Again, leverage technology. Aproove project management solutions can provide a centralized hub for all files, assets, briefs, and approvals in a central cloud-based location that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
Slow and inconsistent review/approval process: In many marketing projects, slow and inefficient approval processes often cause delays, inefficiencies, and even project failures.
This issue is especially prominent if the marketing team still relies on email-based or paper-based approval processes, where different file versions and feedback can easily get confused.
Inconsistent and ineffective review/approval cycles will ultimately lead to more revision counts, translating into higher costs.
How to tackle this? Establishing a centralized and effective approval process is crucial in marketing project management. Traditional methods like email-based approval are no longer sufficient to meet today's agile digital environment, so consider investing in online proofing solutions that ensure a faster and more consistent review and approval process.
Ineffective meetings, communication, and collaboration: Many marketing teams still rely on traditional collaboration methods (i.e., spreadsheets) and communication tools (i.e., email) to execute their projects, creating many problems and inefficiencies.
On the other hand, too many unproductive meetings can hurt your project's timeline and utilization of marketing resources. Ineffective collaborations and communication can add up, leading to missed deadlines and projects over budget.
How to tackle this? Establish clear collaboration and communication policies and invest in adequate technology solutions to ensure streamlined communications. Schedule shorter meetings regularly rather than fewer long ones. Don't be afraid to experiment until you find a better collaboration format that works for your team.
How Project Management for Marketing Works: Best Practices and Principles
Without a clear marketing project management in place, you won't be able to tackle the challenges discussed above effectively.
To understand marketing project management, we must first understand the typical anatomy of marketing projects.
First, who are the parties involved in a typical marketing project?
Different marketing projects can involve many stakeholders, but we can generally categorize them into three main groups:
Internal stakeholders: members of your marketing team or any other team members in your organization with a stake in the marketing project. They are either directly involved in the execution of the campaign (i.e., graphic designers,) need to be informed about the progress ( (i.e., executives,) or are impacted by the project's deliverables.
External stakeholders: people outside the organization who have a stake in the marketing project. For marketing agencies, clients requesting the project are the most obvious and important external stakeholders. Vendors, investors, and users are also examples of external stakeholders. The project's deliverables will impact them, and in proper marketing project management, the external stakeholders must be regularly informed about the progress.
Marketing project manager: the leader responsible for the marketing project from start to finish and is at the center of everything happening during the execution of this project. A marketing project manager is responsible for establishing a project timeline, assigning roles/responsibilities, monitoring KPI, and more.
The marketing project management framework's main objective is to streamline the communication and collaboration between these three parties to ensure the marketing project achieves its objectives using as few resources as possible.
To do so, the marketing project management should follow these five best practices below.
Marketing Project Management Best Practices
1. Should align with the business's overarching goals
What's the purpose of running this project in the first place? What are its goals?
The marketing project must align well with the organization's (or client's) big-picture efforts, or it's not worth executing.
A successful marketing project should contribute to the company's or client's push against its goals.
2. Defined phases
The marketing project must progress through clearly defined phases from the initiation of the project (kick-off), planning, the actual execution, and delivery.
These phases should be based on a predetermined project timeline and must be regulated with an agreed budget.
3. Focused on deliverables
All marketing projects must be centered on producing a specific output called project deliverable.
If you are a marketing agency working for a client, a deliverable is basically the finished product the client gets when the project is finished. On the other hand, for an internal marketing team, a deliverable is approved by the higher-ups (i.e., marketing executives.)
For example, in an advertising campaign, the finished advertisement material is the deliverable.
4. Can be divided into smaller, manageable milestones
To ensure success, the project must be divided into smaller milestones, tasks, and subtasks that are:
Measurable: the project manager should be able to track the progress of each task towards the agreed milestones.
Attainable: by breaking the project down into achievable chunks, you can maintain the team's motivation to achieve the project's goals.
No matter how large and complex a marketing project is, we can always divide it into smaller milestones.
5. Managed via technology solutions
Not leveraging the available technology solutions to manage and run your projects in today's digital environment will guarantee you're left behind.
At the very least, you should leverage a project management solution to streamline the project management process, improve the team's productivity, and measure performance.
Anatomy of Project Management for Marketing: Step-by-Step Guide
Above, we have discussed that the key aspect of marketing project management is dividing the project into smaller, measurable, and attainable phases.
While the actual phases can vary depending on each project's needs and requirements, all marketing projects can be divided into these eight key phases:
Phase 1: Define goals and objectives
The first and arguably the most critical phase of any marketing project management is to define the goals of this project clearly. Without clear goals, team members wouldn't know what to aim for during project execution, and achieving success will be much more challenging.
It's best to follow the SMART goal principles when defining your goals:
Specific: the narrower the scope of each goal, the better.
Measurable: you can monitor the team's performance against this objective by using KPIs and measuring key metrics.
Attainable: goals should be realistic and achievable, so that you can maintain your team's morale
Relevant: relevant to your business's or your client's overarching business goals
Time-bound: you can establish a clear timeline for each objective
Once you've established your project's goals, communicate them with your internal and external stakeholders, which is essential for managing their expectations regarding the project.
Phase 2: Define KPIs and Success Metrics
As early as possible in the project management cycle, identify KPIs according to the defined goals in the previous phase.
Establish a system and invest in the required tools to measure these KPIs, so you can closely monitor your project's progress in real-time.
This way, when something goes wrong, and your project goes off track, you can make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible.
Phase 3: Identify The Project's Target Audience
Any marketing project can only be deemed successful if it satisfies its target audience. So, correctly identifying your target audience is crucial and should be done as early as possible.
Who should be your target audience? The primary approach is to identify a specific type of audience that is ideal for helping you achieve the goals you've defined in the previous phases.
Start by creating a buyer persona, and try gathering as much information as possible about your target audience. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the project execution will be.
Phase 4: Defining Scope
Define your project scope and communicate it with your stakeholders.
Having a clear scope will ensure every stakeholder knows the limitations of your project regarding budget, utilization of resources, and timeline.
You'll need to carefully plan a schedule for your project execution and have a detailed plan of how and where to distribute resources (including human resources.)
Phase 5: Assigning Roles and Responsibilities
A key aspect of ensuring efficiency in project execution is task delegation. Effective delegation provides two things:
Tasks are handled by those that are capable and available. If a team member is available (in workload) but not capable in skills or experience, it just won't work, and vice versa.
Avoid duplicate work, so resources are utilized effectively.
Create a comprehensive project schedule and timeline, and assign tasks and responsibilities to available team members. Use a project management solution to visualize the timeline and tasks, so team members can quickly check project milestones and dependencies between tasks.
Proper delegation of tasks would also establish accountability. Team members can visualize dependencies between tasks and the progress of project milestones. By allowing team members to understand clearly what they and others are responsible for and their current progress, they'll be motivated to be more productive.
Phase 6: Execution
You've correctly planned and scheduled your project, and this phase is finally about executing the project.
Depending on the nature of your marketing project, most of this phase would be about producing your project deliverables according to the project's requirements (whether established by your client or higher-ups.)
Closely monitoring KPIs, timeline, and budget in this phase is crucial to ensure the project deliverables are delivered on time and within budget without sacrificing quality.
Phase 7: Review and Approval
Often the most time-consuming and challenging phase when not managed properly. In this phase, the project deliverable is reviewed and approved by stakeholders according to the project's objectives and requirements.
A centralized online proofing and project management platform like Aproove can significantly help in streamlining the review/approval process to minimize revision cycles and ensure efficiency.
Phase 8: Monitoring and Evaluation
Use the KPIs you've defined in the previous phases to monitor your project's progress against its objectives.
There are two different layers of this phase:
Monitor the project's performance in real-time before it's finished so you can make the necessary adjustments and fix mistakes as soon as you've identified them.
After the project ends (successfully or unsuccessfully), you can evaluate how well the campaign performed and gain valuable insights into how you should plan your future marketing strategy and projects.
Examine KPIs to determine whether the project was a success.
You should first address the project's main objective. Did the project achieve this objective? Did it successfully address the problem you were trying to solve?
You should also examine other KPIs, the most important ones being ROI (Return on Investment), actual cost (AC), and cost-performance index (CPI,) but you may need to consider other KPIs according to your project's objectives.
Communicate to internal and external stakeholders on the success of the marketing project, including what went wrong.
It's crucial to keep yourself open to feedback and strive to learn from your mistakes.
Proper implementation of project management in marketing can help your marketing team or agency eliminate some of the challenges in planning and executing marketing projects.
When you've successfully structured a marketing project management framework, you'll streamline the project execution while improving communication and collaboration.
Leverage Aproove project management solution to establish a centralized information hub, ensure effective collaboration among stakeholders, and maximize project ROI.