How Marketers Can Demonstrate Value with Project Management Skills
In my experience, one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of any job or department is being able to demonstrate value. After all, if your role or team isn’t making tangible contributions to your organization, what’s the point in keeping you around? I’m not sure how you like to be described at work, but I’m going to speculate that “Huge waste of money” isn’t your ideal.
Not all departments are created equal when it comes to the ease of demonstrating value. Sales teams can tout all the revenue they’re bringing in from the deals they close. Engineering teams literally build the products. HR teams are legally required to exist. Demonstrating the value of marketing teams can sometimes appear difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Not if you think and act like a project manager.
What is project management for, anyway?
- It maximizes time
- It optimizes costs
- It maximizes people (i.e., resources)
This is hard to argue against. Here are just a few ways that project management can help marketers demonstrate value:
1) You will get in the habit of giving your customers, clients, or stakeholders regular updates about deliverables.
A good project manager will track deliverables and regularly update their stakeholders about the status of said deliverables. Whether via phone calls or meetings (with detailed notes), emails, or both, you’ll be able to continuously demonstrate the progress your team has made since the previous update, and will often answer any questions your stakeholders have before they even need to be asked. No more, “Hey, have we published that blog yet?” because you’ll have already told them. That usually gets you some serious points.
2) Project management in marketing helps eliminate department siloes.
Whether you’re in an internal setting or agency setting, marketers are often in the unique position of needing to work with several departments, whereas other teams can find it easy and tempting to stay in siloes. When you execute your campaigns like a project manager and identify key stakeholders from every department, it will require everyone to communicate regularly and stay aligned in a way they likely haven’t before. You might personally be able to track everything going on in your head or on your own personal notepad, but not everyone can. If you take the reins and centralize information where everyone can access it, people will appreciate you keeping them all on the same page.
3) It requires you to measure the success of your campaigns against goals.
I’ve heard criticism that marketers can often just be conceptual creative types who are all talk with no tangible contribution. The difference project management will make here is that you’ll be measuring your success against quantifiable SMART goals. “No, Glen, I didn’t just think of a new company tagline and pretend our revenue shot through the roof as a result. I said my team’s campaign goal was to generate 25 MQLs and 15 SQLs within 30 days, and we succeeded on both counts. Of those 15 SQLS, 9 of them became customers who are now associated with $87k in total revenue.” Whether you're hitting goals or missing goals, either outcome will help inform your marketing strategy.
4) Project management requires you to develop and stick to a timeline.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain for example will love this. Those folks like a predictable schedule. You probably have a Sales, Operations, and Planning meeting (if you don’t, start one!). Your teams can coordinate there. Set milestones, identify risks in the project and how those could affect the timeline, and call out the tasks that are critical to keeping things on track. While you may not always be able to nail the outcome of a campaign, you can better nail down the timing of the outcome. Even knowing the timing of a project is invaluable.
5) It helps you identify your required resources.
Have you ever complained that you don’t have what you need to execute a campaign? Well, if you structure your campaign like a project manager, you might find that you actually do. You can better align resources to tasks. It will help keep tasks contained, and help avoid runaway tasks that never end. This improves your estimating of what resources you actually need over time. Maybe it turns out you actually DON’T have enough resources, but now you’ll have a way to show it and justify getting some additional hands or tools.
To sum it up:
Once you’ve executed a few successful projects, your credibility will soar. At that point you’ll be able to spend more time thinking about how you can keep kicking ass for your organization instead of living in constant fear that people don’t understand the point of your existence. The former is a much more palatable place to be, and your blood pressure will thank you.