Ultimate guide to marketing project management
What is marketing project management?
Marketing project management is the process of planning, overseeing, and delivering marketing-related projects. This process is defined by a framework that is put together by a project manager and the team.
This framework can be thought of as the step-by-step blueprint that your marketing projects follow. When done right, a PM framework empowers teams to complete their work on-time and stress-free.
The specific steps and methodologies of project management vary from agency to agency. Because post-mortems are meant to highlight the process that is best for that agency, agile methodology is meant to be flexible enough for some change. That said, here are the basic steps:
Each project progresses through defined phases from planning to delivery. This is based on a predetermined project timeline and budget.
The project is focused on producing specific outputs called project deliverables. A deliverable is the asset the client (or requestor) gets when a project ends. This might be individual blog or a whole new marketing strategy.
Project work is divided into manageable chunks. This includes task lists, tasks, sub-tasks, and project milestones.
Projects are put into the context of big-picture business efforts. For marketing specifically, this might be part of a business initiative such as a rebrand or content marketing push.
The work is managed within a project management solution. Project management software is a digital workspace used to track tasks and empower teams to efficiently
collaborate and be more productive.
Ideally, your project management framework can be applied to any type of marketing activity or campaign. This includes pay-per-click (PPC), email marketing, SEO, content marketing, product marketing, or brand campaigns.
For example, in a brand campaign, project management could be used to align the efforts split between different marketing roles. This might include graphic designers, copywriters, market researchers, and strategists.
What exactly does a marketing project manager do?
The role of marketing project manager is a dynamic one. That’s because PMs are researchers, communicators, and marketing experts rolled into one.
The day-to-day duties of marketing PMs aren’t 100% identical. We've compiled a guide of frequent tasks below.
Researching best practices and tactics for marketing campaigns
There are endless variables involved when it comes to marketing project management.
PMs are there to rein in the chaos by defining the scope of work for a project. This will influence the fine details in terms of tactics, duration, and tools needed to make the project a reality.
Let’s say someone is interested in a content marketing campaign.
Okay, how long is the campaign going to last? How many writers are involved? What are the specifics of the deliverables in terms of length, SEO, and overall project lifecycle?
Based on available resources and conversations with stakeholders, PMs can answer all of the above with confidence. What makes them even more confident? Knowing exactly how much work is assigned to the entire team and what's assigned to each team member.
Organizing people and resources to get a project moving
Consider that breaking down organizational silos is among the top challenges of today’s content managers today. Project managers need to know who does what, and be able to identify what phase any given project is in. .
PMs often act as a sort of liaison between clients, the C-level, and marketing teams to ensure that projects run smoothly. This involves:
Providing instructions to project participants
Establishing deadlines for deliverables
Communicating with collaborators and stakeholders
Setting expectations for all of the above
Overseeing projects once they’re in progress
Following up on the point above, PMs have to be meticulous about making sure project deadlines are met. They also need to manage the clients’ expectations. Meetings, check-ins, and progress summaries are a huge part of your average PM’s schedule.
5 phases of the marketing project management process
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to managing marketing campaigns. That said, most marketing projects can be broken down into a five-phase project lifecycle.
Chances are you’re already implementing a variation of this framework already. Below is a high-level breakdown of what this process looks like using a marketing project management software like Teamwork.
Phase 1: Planning
Key project stakeholders from the C-level to the marketing team will define and agree on the goals and objectives of the project. If you’re part of an agency, your client will also be part of this process.
Note that 52% of marketing experts struggle to communicate strategy with people that are not marketing-savvy. This speaks to the importance of breaking down projects into a schedule so you can see specific goals, objectives, and deliverables.
Phase 2: Organization
With goals established, the team can agree on a workflow.
Again, a deliverable is anything produced for a project that’s necessary for completion. The most common deliverables for marketing projects are campaigns themselves, as well as crucial pieces such as ads, graphics, or blog posts.
After defining the project’s deliverables, the team formulates a marketing project plan made up of several tasks. The more complex the project is, the more tasks are required.
Each task is then allocated to a team member. Sometimes leading stakeholders assign tasks to team members. In other cases, team members might self-assign their own tasks. This varies from team to team.
Below is what assignments look like in Asana. Each task is tied to a specific team member along with its respective due date, time budget, and priority. These assignments create a sense of visibility and urgency that are crucial for moving any given project forward.
The organizational phase is also where the project scope is defined. In short, this is the extent of work involved in the project. Defining the scope of work ensures that teams don’t too much and likewise stay within the budget of the project – or avoid the dreaded scope creep.
Creating a project schedule is another priority task at this point. Here’s where you'll define the chronology of activities required for the project.
This can be represented visually through tools like Gantt Charts, which can be updated in real-time to highlight a project’s process. With an established timeline, teams are ready to get started with the actual project itself.
Phase 3: Execution
This is the phase where the team puts its plan into action.
During execution, project leaders are responsible for outlining expectations for the team's task management. This involves tracking and reporting on task progress, creating new tasks as needed, and taking action when projects aren’t moving forward.
Visualizations such as kanban boards are a popular way to track your team’s progress, giving participants and stakeholders an “at a glance” view of a project’s status.
Kanban boards are ideal for marketing project management as they clearly highlight the stages involved in a campaign (think: drafts, revisions, and so on). When a task progresses to the next stage in the process, its task card is moved to the appropriate column.
This is what a kanban board looks like in Asana.
Tools like kanban boards also create a sense of accountability and autonomy for team members. This is a win-win for project managers and participants alike: the former always has the pulse on their projects while the latter is empowered to work without being micromanaged.
And hey, that leads us to the next phase of marketing project management.
Phase 4: Control
Once a project is in motion, you need to make sure that everything’s on-schedule.
Are team members hitting headlines? Are there any hold-ups or missing deliverables?
You'll want a reliable PM tool for this phase.
Phase 5: Delivery
The project is wrapping up, the deliverables are tested and approved for release.
What happens here largely depends on the nature of the marketing team’s relationship to the project. If the project is a one-off marketing campaign, it could be considered finished once it has been delivered to the commissioning stakeholder.
Have a special meeting just to talk about the process and project.
This final piece of the process encourages you to refine your project management approach and find the best way to empower teammates in the future. This is a win-win for you, your teammates, and clients alike.
The benefits of effective marketing project management
The most obvious upsides of project management are productivity-related. Beyond that, also consider:
Consistency: a defined, repeatable process encourages more consistent work regardless of the project, team, or client involved.
Collaboration: teammates are encouraged to work together, empower each other, and keep projects moving forward faster.
Accountability: transparency and visibility make it easier to understand who’s on-task and who might be struggling.
Organization: less guessing, fewer check-ins, and no deliverables getting lost.
Thoughtful planning: putting each piece of your project under the microscope results in more meaningful projects versus just winging it.
Project management encourages long-term efficiency gains for marketing teams.
For example, each project involves a structure that can be tweaked and repurposed for future projects. You can use lessons learned from the evaluation phase to improve your decision-making.
And the longer a team applies a project-managed approach, the more they can optimize it.
How project management brings marketing teams together
Food for thought: 92% of marketers believe that collaboration with their teammates could be improved.
This speaks to the importance of marketing project management software that encourages more proactive communication. This includes:
Commenting on tasks for the sake of providing updates and asking questions
Tagging other team members to bring them into the conversations ASAP
Being able to see conversations, questions, and answers throughout the entire project lifecycle
While emails, phone calls, and Zoom catch-ups can lead to resolutions, a project management solution speeds up the process and keeps communication consolidated. Using communication platforms like Slack, and project management tools like Asana, will help your team.
What are the key project management skills for marketing teams?
To implement project management effectively, you need to do the following:
Develop project management skills within your organization
Assign specific management-related responsibilities among your team
Some marketing teams might be best served by sharing project management responsibilities among themselves (versus employing a project manager.) This approach is cost-effective and provides an opportunity for more individual workers to level up.
If you do take on project management internally, you’ll need an accessible project management tool and process that addresses your specific needs. No questions asked.
Project management built for marketing teams
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