Project management for marketing managers: from nothing but pressure to no stress. In no time. Here’s how!
In a previous article, I wrote aboutwhy marketers have a high risk of stress and burnout. One possible solution to this is to digitalize marketing departments through project management software; today, the average marketer’s ad hoc organisation is less about the complicated marketing environment and more about dealing with increased downward pressure. For marketers who (still) aren’t convinced about how useful project management software can be, I’ve written this article listing 10 good reasons to replace the confusing mess of servers, post-it notes and Office docs with a single organised digital tool that combines all your strategic and operational data.
Try asking 10 marketers how their work’s going and most of them will tell you “fine, but I’m under a lot of pressure”. The “but” in this sentence tells you that actually, it’s not fine. So why do we always just accept that drowning in work is ‘part of the job’ for marketers? As though it’s inevitable fate, as though being under constant pressure means you’re sending the right signals within your company and you’re at the top of your game. Constant pressure is seen as a status symbol.
Recently even retired people have started talking about how busy they are. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying people should make money by pretending to work or not having to work; that was the culture of ancient Greece and is still the culture of modern Italy, where having more free time is seen as a status symbol. Free time, in Latin culture, is peak status; pressure as a status symbol, on the other hand, is an American phenomenon which is spreading across Europe, and we’ve built a huge economy around this; from online shopping to fruit and vegetable box deliveries and take-away restaurants to therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
My advice is to work hard, and work a lot, but do it smart and enjoy it. The truth, as always, lies in the middle, and for marketing managers a digital organiser tool is the tool you need to work a lot and to work smart. Below you can read 10 good reasons for your marketing team to digitalize its workflow using a project management tool.
A recent study showed that ‘lack of insight and overview’ was the biggest stumbling block for the marketers surveyed, largely due to having marketing data spread over dozens of Excel, Word and PowerPoint documents, servers and emails. A project management tool that brings together all your strategic and operational data in an organised way into a single digital ecosystem makes this a thing of the past, giving you a good level of control – a godsend to everyone, not just control freaks.
Marketers are exposed to so much stimulus that keeping an even head in itself becomes an achievement. A project management tool allows you to separate priority projects and tasks from less urgent ones, giving you a daily to-do list. Just check stuff off as you go – no stress.
Most marketers are under pressure, pressure, pressure, but are they really being productive during the hours they work? A lot of time is still wasted because of bad planning and organisation. A project management tool can solve this problem, linking all your projects, tasks and calendar with communication steps in a single digital system, organising everything. It gives you a peaceful environment and means you’re not always trying to catch up – you can take charge of your own productivity.
What is our social media strategy? What’s our strategy for talking to the press? What’s our price strategy going to be this fall? I bet the average marketer starts sweating as soon as their manager asks one of these strategy questions. Diligent marketers are more than worker ants; they’re smart people who anticipate the future, who plan a day ahead and write their plans down – in a project management tool where they can set out strategic info in a couple of clicks.
Anyone who has spent a day walking around an average marketing department knows marketers are like firefighters: as soon as one deadline is met, more work arrives. Nothing is less frustrating than constantly having to catch up with new situations. For example, think about your company appearing at an exhibition: as the date draws closer, marketing stress reaches fever pitch and urgent tasks and deadlines all have to be completed at an incredible speed. But with project management software, things are different – it uses project tasks and campaign planning to make sure that you can work proactively instead of reactively and marketing management becomes predictable.
Marketing meetings are often inefficient and drag on. Why? Because there’s no agenda for the meeting, so the people there aren’t prepared when they come to the table and after the meeting everyone crawls back to their own organisational bubble. Not so with a project management tool! It creates the agenda and posts it in the system, allows for immediate reporting and sends everyone their own tasks after the meeting.
Bad communication in the marketing team wastes time and is frustrating. Who is responsible for what and who’s going to take on which task? What was the deadline and what did we agree at the last meeting? You can get the answer in a couple of clicks – if the data is in a project management tool and not in people’s heads, solving a lot of communication problems before they even become problems.
Real marketers work to specific targets, so you need a system that can set these targets – and one that can measure them! What’s the point of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or measuring points if no one can actually measure them? With a project management tool, you can create an instant marketing report that shows you how your marketing efforts translate into results. You can almost feel your bonus coming… but you can also prove the need to stop unproductive products or extend productive ones using hard numbers.
As a marketer, do you know at any given moment how much of your marketing budget has been used? Which action points money was spent on? Which action points came in over or under budget? If you don’t know the answer, you really need a digital system that can tell you anywhere, any time what your budget is and how it’s developing throughout the year.
A lot of CMOs and CEOs ask their marketers what they actually do all day. Or, to look at it from another angle, I know a lot of marketers who are frustrated that they don’t get the recognition and appreciation they deserve from their company. So, they should produce regular, clear reports of their results, ambitions, targets and achievements for their managers. Don’t wait for your manager to ask you for figures. Make them clear and up to date – with your project management tool.
So, have I convinced you that project management in the marketing department is valuable? I know it takes a lot of time and effort for a single marketer to change the way a marketing team works, and that it takes commitment and discipline to build up a project management tool. But there’s a huge bonus: streamlined organisation where people work hard but methodically, where work is valued and appreciated.
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