What makes marketing a challenging activity to deliver in any organization – and how does adopting a project management method help?
Marketers are dealing with diverse stakeholders of varying seniority levels across multiple departments, often spanning an entire organization.
However, because marketing is not always creating a physical, tangible product, it can be difficult to get buy-in for a certain campaign, persuade senior leadership of the value in an activity and obtain a fair share of budget allocation.
And, when activity does go ahead, it can be fraught with risk. In digital marketing, that involves the trialling, testing and refining of activity to create web impressions and generate leads. Also, marketers are often entering new target markets with minimal idea of how they will react.
In the face of such challenges, project management – and particularly PRINCE2® – offers solutions.
Marketing and the project-based approach
Marketing can be broken down more easily – and more successfully managed – within a project approach. And this comprises both traditional waterfall and Agile methods.
The more linear waterfall approach is useful for setting strategy and aligning with company objectives at the start of a year. This includes setting KPIs, articulating what the top-level plan will look like and gathering information (e.g. target markets for new products), to know if the plan is viable before activation.
Then using short, Agile sprint approaches works for delivering specific activities, particularly software technology development.
Marketing without project management
Project management in marketing takes a more scientific approach to delivering the outcomes that people want.
Without it, a range of problems can arise: for example, scope creep (uncontrolled, extra requirements for the project); marketing is sometimes about seizing the moment and stealing a march on competitors so, if timelines are extended, it means potentially missing opportunities. If roles and responsibilities are ill-defined it’s hard to know who’s responsible for signing off work.
These types of risks were the catalyst for me certifying in PRINCE2.
Key PRINCE2 elements for marketers
If you work in marketing, using briefing documents that define the approach and objectives of an activity is hugely beneficial. This sets up the business case and generates discussion about whether it’s worth initiating as a project. Articulating this in writing also ensures there is accountability for delivering on expectations.
The PRINCE2 principle of manage by stages means breaking down various components of a project into manageable chunks. Defining roles and responsibilities establishes accountability for who will do what, such as writing and approving copy.
The monitoring, validation and checking processes in PRINCE2 ensure proper time is given to an activity in the project plan before moving on, which cuts the risk of costing the business extra money or making mistakes.
PRINCE2 in small company marketing
In our company, we have been busy developing new sales and marketing content to support the launch of new products into Europe this year and for lead generation. This required the entire senior management team to input into the technical content of campaigns and I needed to involve them in the whole planning process and quantify the expected return on investment.
Therefore, I set up process maps to gather their input, define roles and responsibilities (for technical input and data validation) and to work with colleagues to validate, monitor and track marketing activity.
Managing by stages ensured no stage was missed and we developed the project in a timely way, progressing each week with progress reporting. Through the involvement of the senior team, especially in reporting results, this enabled us to obtain the required budget for further marketing activity.
Project management supported by PRINCE2 has given us a language to articulate the benefits of marketing campaigns in a logical fashion and in a way that meets the business case.
It has lent more weight to marketing in the organization and enhanced the credibility of its requests and the outputs/outcomes it achieves.
News by Stephanie Brain – Marketing Manager, Ambiental Risk Analytics