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How to Succeed at Marketing Project Management

Discover how to harness the power of project management for marketing. Learn how to tackle challenges, optimize resources, and adapt to rapid changes.

Motion Blog
at Motion
Oct 12, 2023
Table of contents

Marketing is a highly dynamic field, which means there are many changes, evolving needs, and trends to stay on top of. Failing to do so can cost campaigns money and create bad reputations for marketing agencies, managers, or offices.

It demands skilled planning, meticulous execution, and effective coordination — something project managers can do in their sleep.

That’s why it’s important to talk about using the power of project management for your marketing projects. In this guide, we'll do just that and explain everything else you need to know about project management, marketing project management software, and more. We'll also show you how certain project methods and principles can help.

What is marketing project management?

Marketing project management uses tools and techniques to help with marketing projects.

Using marketing project management tools for your marketing is a recipe for success. Gather all the ingredients — your marketing ideas, project goals, and tasks — and mix them using project management methods and project management software. These different methods help you plan, execute, and control projects. You can apply them for the same results in marketing.

For example, let's say you're launching a brand-new product. You've got the idea, the product, and the backing. Project management helps you break down the big launch into smaller, manageable tasks, plan project timelines, and more. You can then confidently assign tasks to your marketing team, set deadlines, and make sure everyone knows their part. And, you can use marketing project management software so all of that is less work for you.

Marketing project management can cover a wide range of initiatives, such as:

  • Launching a new product
  • Running an advertising campaign
  • Organizing events
  • Creating content for various platforms
  • Conducting market research

Why does marketing need project management?

Marketing and projects often involve multiple moving components. To manage all these parts, you must carefully plan, coordinate, and execute each phase of the project.

Project management guides the marketing maze

‎A robust project management framework and plan helps teams to complete tasks on schedule and within the project budget. This could be anything from a billboard campaign to crafting a video ad; the fundamental steps are the same:

  1. Plan: During the planning stage, set objectives, allocate resources, and define a budget.
  2. Execute: Put your plan into action. Coordinate tasks, collaborate effectively, and make sure everyone's in sync as you develop your project deliverables.
  3. ControlMonitor the progress of execution, spot roadblocks, and make necessary adjustments.
  4. Deploy: Deliver your final product or marketing campaign and measure success against predetermined metrics.

With a solid project management system, simple or complex projects might gain direction, and things won’t fall through the cracks.

Digging a bit beneath those high-level reasons, marketing relies on project management for:

  • Resource allocation: To distribute the project or marketing team's talents, time, and tools.
  • Timeliness: To help them to stay on track with project deadlines.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: They can sync various departments to create a united front.
  • Budget control: Prevents overspending and makes sure of optimal use of funds.
  • Risk management: Helps to identify and mitigate potential obstacles and risks before they derail marketing plans.
  • Consistency and brand integrity: To keep marketing messages aligned and brand voice steady.
  • Data-driven decision-making: To help base strategies on facts and insights, not guesswork.
  • Measurable outcomes: To help gauge marketing project success using quantifiable metrics.
  • Adaptation and optimization: To help stay flexible to pivot strategies based on real-time feedback.
  • Clear communication: To help keep everyone on the same page.
  • Stakeholder management: To help manage clients and other stakeholders, and build trust.

The role of a marketing project manager

The project manager's role in marketing isn't exactly the same as you assume with most complex projects. Because customer needs and expectations are constantly changing in this niche, there's an urgency to go to market faster. To handle this, many marketing project managers study Agile (one of the PM methods), which teaches them adaptive and customer-based principles.

Marketing project managers work closely with business leaders to set clear project objectives, allocate resources, and define budgets. They then oversee execution and ensure tasks are coordinated and collaboration is effective, often alongside marketing project management software.

The project owner, team lead, or head of marketing can sometimes fill the marketing project manager. However, they'll need formal project management training to apply the chosen methodology. The actual steps and methods might differ depending on the agency, but the manager's goal is to streamline, execute, and deliver.

How to solve marketing challenges with project management

Now, let’s delve into how project management handles common marketing challenges.

1. Scope creep

Project scope creep is a frequent headache in marketing when project requirements balloon beyond the original plan. It's like planning a picnic and ending up with a full-blown carnival. This can lead to delays in timelines, increases in costs, and compromises on quality.

Scope creep in marketing project

‎To counter scope creep, project management employs robust strategies. Project management principles set clear boundaries from the get-go, meaning everyone involved knows what's in and out of boundaries. They use a Scope of Work document to define these boundaries during the initiation phase.

Marketing project managers set change control processes in place. Think of these as bouncers at the picnic — they ensure only legitimate changes get in. They also use RACI charts to assign clear roles and responsibilities and keep scope creep from blossoming.

2. Changing client demands

Say you're painting a beautiful mural on a wall, and suddenly, the client says they want more swirls and a different shade of red. Change requests like this happen a lot in marketing.

The secret sauce is adaptability. Agile principles and methods thrive on change and aim to meet customer expectations. Agile project management keeps you flexible and ready to pivot at the drop of a hat. You can regroup, redefine your strategy, and still hit your deadlines like a pro.

3. Resource constraints

Resource constraints can feel like you're trying to make a gourmet meal with just a spoon and a spatula. This challenge is a frequent guest in marketing – limited staffing, tight budgets, and technology hiccups.

So, how does project management step in to save the day? Project managers know how to manage resources like a chess master moving pieces on a board. They make sure each person is effectively allocated and can move around individual tasks to rearrange when necessary (and use marketing project management software when it gets to be too much). They also know how to stay on budget by keeping track of expenses.

4. Rapid adaptation and market dynamics

The marketing world is like a whirlwind, with trends and consumer preferences swirling and changing faster than you can blink.

This is where dynamic project management methodologies save the day. Let's say you're playing a game of soccer, and the ball is the ever-changing demands of marketing. Instead of just kicking the ball and hoping for the best, you use a well-practiced strategy — project management. Specifically, Agile methodologies like Scrum.

In Scrum, you gather your project team for sprint planning meetings (team huddles). Sprints are mini-campaigns that last a set time, usually 2–4 weeks. Here you can plan for changes in preferences and trends, and your team can apply them to every new product increment.

Using Agile methodologies for marketing project management

As we mentioned, Agile houses a set of frameworks that align perfectly with the marketing niche in principle and practice.

Kanban board in action

‎Agile isn't just one-size-fits-all; it's a collection of approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and more. To quickly show you how, we are going to dig into one method.

Kanban for marketing projects

Let's zoom in on Kanban, an Agile strategy that works well for marketing agencies. This approach centers around improving the flow of work, and to do this, it uses a Kanban board. A good deal of marketing project management software will include Kanban as part of its service, because it’s so useful and effective.

A Kanban board divides work into columns, each column representing a stage in your project, like “To Do,” “In Progress,” “Review,” “Testing,” and “Done.” On the board, cards represent these tasks, and as your project progresses, the card moves across the different stages.

Let's say you're launching a new ad campaign. You'd start by creating a card for it and placing it in the “To Do” column. As your team dives in, the card moves to “In Progress.” Once the creative work is done, it shifts to “Review.” If all's well, it advances to “Testing,” where quality checks happen. Finally, after your campaign gets the green light, it moves to the “Done” column.

Another reason to use Kanban is that it helps to identify bottlenecks and eliminates waste. This means fewer hiccups, less stress, faster time to market, lower operating costs, and more successful marketing campaigns for future projects.

To find out more about using other methods, read here: 8 Popular Project Management Methods & Frameworks

Motion helps with marketing project management

The marketing environment is dynamic and fast-paced, and projects can face many challenges. Marketing project management tools promise to prevent or resolve many of these challenges and give marketing teams a better chance at success.

‎Try Motion: a powerful project management app to get an even better upper hand. With Motion’s marketing project management software, you can integrate project management principles and techniques into your marketing workflow. For example, you can use Motion’s Kanban board to visualize work in progress and see any bottlenecks in the workflow.

Motion also hosts a meeting assistant, which works with your calendar and team calendar to find slots for meetings intelligently. Using this assistant, you can lock in your daily tasks, meetings, or let Motion automatically manage them for you.

Try Motion today and sign up for your 7-day free trial.

Motion Blog
Written by Motion Blog