Marketing teams are having a tough time in 2024. With an uncertain global economy, constant threat of recession, and historically high inflation in many parts of the world, consumer and business confidence is low. As a result, marketers are being asked to do more with less, which means either reducing budgets or optimizing ROI from their investments.
And with marketing goals and campaigns becoming ever more complex, it’s no surprise that marketers are feeling under pressure.
This article defines what Marketing Project Management is and explores its benefits, with the aim of helping marketers to manage their projects more successfully to achieve faster ROI with less stress.
Additional reading: How to Adopt Agile Marketing Practices
Defining Marketing Project Management
Marketing Project Management is the process of planning and delivering marketing-related projects. A project manager, owner, team lead, or head of marketing typically owns this process. The specific steps of project management will vary by industry, market, and the product or service being marketed. However, the majority of marketing projects can be broken down into five key phases.
The five phases of Marketing Project Management
The five key phases of Marketing Project Management are:
Phase 1: Planning
The project stakeholders define the project’s goals and objectives. In an in-house marketing team, the stakeholders will usually be the Chief Marketing Officer and/or heads of marketing, with some support from other departments where appropriate. For marketing agencies, the stakeholders will usually include an account manager, a creative manager, and the client. As part of defining the project’s goals and objectives, the stakeholders will nominate a project manager, who is then responsible for execution.
Phase 2: Organization
The project manager works with their team to agree on a budget and identify the project deliverables. These deliverables are anything that is necessary for a project’s completion. The most common deliverables for marketing projects are campaigns themselves, which in turn are made up of components including paid ads, content, graphics, web pages, etc.
Gantt charts are an ideal way to plan deliverables and campaigns. Here’s an example of how a marketing project Gantt chart might look in Teamhood.
Phase 3: Execution
During execution, project managers must define and track tasks, as well as reporting on progress, creating new tasks, and taking corrective action on tasks that are becoming bottlenecks.
Kanban boards are an excellent task management tool that many marketing teams can benefit from using. Here’s an example of how a marketing team might use a Kanban board to manage tasks in Teamhood.
You can find more examples like this in this post:
Phase 4: Control
This is the most difficult part of many projects, especially in marketing, where people are used to planning, reporting, and executing but not so much to actively managing campaigns in progress. Communicating efficiently, providing updates, and monitoring progress are all parts of this phase, which is where visual dashboards can be extremely useful.
Phase 5: Delivery
This could be the end of a discrete, specific marketing campaign. However, products often have multiple campaigns, so the first campaign may be just the beginning. With most marketing projects, there will be an element of review and measuring of results before tweaking the next step of a campaign or before planning and executing the next campaign.
This is where it’s useful to assess results against the budget and resources allocated. How was the ROI? Did it meet the agreed target? If not, why not? What were the issues? If a campaign met or exceeded expectations, can you work out why that was so you can repeat the same performance next time?
Different types of marketing project managers
There are several different job roles that could take on the mantle of marketing project manager depending on the nature of the project and the stakeholders involved. Here is a sample of the most common:
- In-house marketing project manager. By far the most common, these project managers work directly for a company or group to manage projects that advance that company’s specific marketing strategies and goals. They will often partner with outside creatives, agencies, and communications or PR agencies, as well as having access to skilled marketing and creative talent in-house. As already discussed, they may be managing a new product launch or running a series of rolling social media campaigns with a less exciting goal such as raising brand awareness.
- Marketing agency project manager. Another very common pick for project managers, they tend to work with clients, internal team members, freelancers, and vendors to execute a project. Their tasks will typically include client meetings, setting deadlines, assigning tasks, and managing project budgets. Marketing agency project managers will also typically manage projects for multiple clients at once.
- Digital marketing project manager. An increasingly ubiquitous role, the digital marketing project manager will plan and execute paid and organic digital projects and campaigns designed to drive traffic to the company or product website and generate leads or sales. They will usually work with some combination of in-house, freelance, and agency talent to produce compelling content, plan video campaigns, manage social media channels, and constantly optimize a company’s website and online customer journey.
The benefits of a project-management approach to marketing
There are several clear benefits to a clearly defined project management process for marketing. These include:
- A faster time to value (TTV) and better return on investment (ROI). The clearer the goals and the better the project management, the faster the project can achieve an ROI.
- Enhanced collaboration. Most marketing projects involve multiple external and internal contributors, making effective collaboration a must – and poor collaboration a significant impediment to success. Messaging tools and visualization tools help all collaborators to work together and keep in touch with developments, challenges, changes, and successes. Learn more about hybrid collaboration.
- More effective planning. With proper project management, the project manager can map out all the steps of an effective campaign, or even the multiple campaigns associated with a product or service launch. Identifying the trickier or more difficult tasks early on makes for more efficient and effective use of resources during execution.
- Greater consistency and better processes. Marketing creatives can be headstrong, mercurial, or inconsistent without a clear plan to follow. Effective project management relies on building repeatable processes which can then be used for future projects or for multiple projects at the same time, which encourages greater consistency and more repeatable results.
Which kinds of marketing projects benefit from project management
There are many different kinds of marketing projects that can benefit from a professional project management approach. Some examples of this include:
- Creating a company’s marketing strategy
- Creating campaign timelines, goals, and budgets
- Creating a content calendar for a company’s website and social media accounts
- Establishing and managing relationships with marketing agencies
- Creating a high-profile launch campaign for a new product
- Commissioning freelancers to create a white paper or ebook
How to choose the best Marketing Project Management Software
There are many skills that a successful marketing project manager needs to cultivate, such as the ability to effectively organize, motivate, communicate, and solve problems. But one of the things that can really give a marketing project manager the edge is using the right kind of project management software.
There are several project management software tools in the market that you could use. The best approach is to research them and work out which are best suited to your marketing needs.
That’s why we put together this useful comparison of some of the leading Marketing Project Management Software available today:
Passionate content marketer looking to bring better solutions to the project management space.
2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.