If you work at a marketing agency or have a marketing department at your company, you may be familiar with the distractions they face. All too commonly your marketing folks are awash in an influx of e-mail, time-wasting meetings, fire drills, client requests and the never-ending approval loop of supervisors. Sadly, many people entering the marketing arena today go into it because they are good at one or more facets of marketing, not because they have experience in team and project management. They get involved because they are charismatic and love interacting with people. They also may, in some cases, expect a career path without concrete deliverables. That's not going to end well.
This trend has not been good for marketing. All the way back in 2004 at an AAAA media conference, Jim Stengel, Global Marketing Manager for Proctor & Gamble said, "Today's marketing is broken. I give us a 'D' because our mentalities have not changed enough. Our measurement has not evolved." Even now that feels true. It's time for marketers to disprove his statement and learn how to organize, manage and delegate effectively. Here's the great news: there is no need to learn a completely new profession. Only a little procedure and software will do. Here's some advice that can help.
1. Define project objectives
Have you ever been in a failed project's ill-fated hot seat and had to backtrack the project to determine where it went wrong? Here's the first step. Create a project and goal definition that is clear and that removes the possibility of misinterpretation from the beginning. Get everyone involved on the same page about what the aims and deliverables will be from day one.
"A common misconception among project leaders is that if issues arise, they'll just 'wing it.' This will most likely not turn out well." says Andreas Tremel, CEO of application company InLoox. "Doing a detailed risk analysis at the beginning of a project helps determine where the potential issues will lie and allows you to mitigate difficulties while the project is still underway."
2. Understand your stakeholders
Consider all people who are interested in the success and failure of the project. Be sure to keep them in the loop on milestones as the job proceeds and to get their buy-in before you start. "Transparency and open communication among stakeholders is critical for mending problems," Tremel says. "You want to maintain the team's support, and to keep their engagement and spirit alive."
3. Have an official kickoff assembly
Bring the stakeholders in to collectively discuss project details and to establish expectations. How will you determine when the project is completed? How are you going to measure success?
4. Track Metrics
You can only increase success and productivity if you understand what you are measuring for. Thus, you must record the metrics that affect your project success. Be exact. Is it engaged customers? Hot leads? Closed sales? Web traffic? Poor marketers can shift the focus to metrics that are more attractive, but not necessarily helpful for measuring success. For example, 20,000 views on Reddit doesn't do you too much good if those who visited the company website were only there for a few seconds and then navigated to another site.
5. Strategies are ever changing
A project blueprint must be dynamic and needs reassessment, strategy with planned-to-actual comparisons and, sometimes, adjustments to the initial project plan to ensure successful completion. This concept is especially important if things start to go wrong. "The first step towards improvement is realizing that a project has turned awry," Tremel says. "As long as the project leader turns a blind eye to the fact the mission is failing, you can't turn it around."
6. Set it in stone
Only that which is written exists. Writing things down gives those involved with the project a visual of the objectives and course of action and ties up any loose ends.
7. Calculate Risk
Make a thorough evaluation of possible steps and where those steps can go wrong. As an example, imagine that the target market for your project is much less profitable than you had considered. Much better to reassess and re-plan than to carry out an awesome project, that in spite of it all, has ultimately failed.
8. Communicate Regularly
Regular team meetings are vital for success. They also supply space for discussion, feedback and review. Make sure to notify all stakeholders when milestones are met.
9. Set realistic expectations:
Set low expectations and over-deliver. According to Liran Hirschkorn, former Citibank employee, "From my experience in working for Citibank, the company focused on marketing that displayed the end benefits to the customer. While other banks were sometimes only focused on brand marketing, Citi usually had campaigns telling stories of end benefits to customers. One example would be how a local business flourished due to a small business loan. These local business stories were real, and clients of Citi could expect that same kind of result."