As marketers, we are the point of contact. When a sales team needs a new deck to showcase to an important customer? Ask marketing. When an engineer needs to test a new copy of the product? Ask marketing. When recruiting wants to improve the employer brand? You have the idea.
These tasks are on top of the actual responsibilities of the marketing team. This of course promotes brand awareness, lead generation, graphic design, running campaigns, go-to-market initiatives, content creation, enabling sales, maintaining social media, internal communication, media relations, market research, working with Providers and business performance analysis.
Despite these many competing priorities, marketing teams rarely have dedicated project management and have to manage their own priorities.
As a marketer, how can you better manage your own projects? And how can you, as a member of a marketing team, help your colleagues deal successfully with project management and deliver great work and results every time?
Implement an agile methodology for marketing project management
Modern development teams have been using the agile methodology for years. This project management system follows twelve principles that streamline software development. Some of these principles also apply to marketing.
Our top priority is to keep the customer happy
Marketers often try to please everyone, including internal stakeholders. It is important to remember that the ultimate goal is customer satisfaction.
Welcome when the requirements change
“We have always done it that way,” is a fatal blow. The best marketers are flexible.
Deliver frequently and maintain a constant pace indefinitely
Marketing projects can have long or short schedules. However, showing consistent traits of success helps teams stay engaged and move projects forward.
Manage solo tasking capacity
When I started marketing, I always pointed out in interviews that I was a “good multitasker”. It was a sign that I was gracious, said yes to everything, and was happy to work with anyone.
It took me a few years to learn that these aren’t the hallmarks of a good marketer. It took me even longer to learn that you have a prioritization problem when your marketing team is multitasking.
Each member of your marketing team can only work on one thing at a time. If their efforts are divided among projects, the chances of success don’t double.
Marketing teams need to recognize and understand their true capabilities. Take into account the number of team members, their expertise and the hours available. This determines exactly how many projects your team can take on. The goal is not to work less, but to focus on tasks and initiatives that matter most and do them well.
Integrate and communicate
With competing priorities and interests, marketing teams can become isolated. For example, a marketing analyst can never interact with a field events marketer. However, your goals and specifications can be closely coordinated. The ability to align your team makes the collaborative project management process easier.
Work with your peers to identify gaps in your marketing project process. While working remotely, there may be some loopholes that you may not be able to spot at first glance. Once these are identified, the team can find ways to align. This can mean weekly stand-ups or a central repository for marketing assets. If your team is having trouble being apart, it might mean a weekly zoom that has nothing to do with work at all.
Practice reckless prioritization
Without multitasking, we’re forcing marketers to prioritize. We all know that this means that something has to come first, but it also means that something has to come last.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding what not to work on:
If I don’t do this job, will there be a bottleneck?
Is someone relying on you to do this job so they can get started? If so, prioritize it. If not, postpone it.
Will this task take a long time?
Can you complete two or more other tasks in the time it would take for that task? If so, prioritize the shorter tasks and postpone the time-consuming task.
If I postpone this task now, will it become anything bigger?
Will postponing this role mean more work for you in the future? If so, prioritize the task. If not, postpone the task.
Reckless prioritization is often just that: reckless. Marketing project managers can upset stakeholders when prioritizing a project. While it may be uncomfortable, it is a crucial part of achieving marketing goals.
Learn to love the lag
Lots of marketers are Type A. We love a checklist. We love to feel like we’ve achieved something. We love the feeling of stepping back and saying the job is well done.
This is rarely the case on a marketing team. Even when you’re celebrating a big launch or a historic sale, there is never a real sense of completion. Marketing is continuous.
As the backlog grows, it can start to get overwhelming. It feels like you’re staring into your fridge and every food goes bad all at once.
Accept the residue isn’t a refrigerator – it’s a freezer. Ideas, tasks and initiatives can live here for months or years. You can save something there while you work on something else. Or you can drop something on the ground and dig it up to thaw if you need it.
Marketers need to adopt a project management mindset. Once they understand how to work with an agile mindset within their capabilities and address priorities, the list of never-ending tasks becomes clearer.