Failing to Plan Marketing Projects

I have been in the marketing field for nearly a decade now and it is nice to see the growth in the industry and the variation of the skills required to become a successful marketer.

We read a lot these days about the need for CMO to be tech-savvy and understand digital to some degree. This chart, from MarketingCharts.com, lists many other skills that seem to be data-driven and technology focused. Necessary-Skills-Successful-Marketer-Today-June2013However, what about pure project and time management? Why when we look at those great project managers or when when we look at jobs under project management, “Marketing” does not pop-out as the department or the area that needs that skill? I am not generalizing here; for sure well established marketing agencies have realized the need for this and many actually run a proper PMO while working on clients’ marketing initiatives. My personal experience is that companies running their own marketing activities tend to focus more on the skills above, especially, in our digital time and age and leave PM related credentials and background as part of the overall job description but with little emphasis on the importance.

When do you really need a project manager?

If I am to wear my Prince2 hat on, I would say always. But if there is little focus on the marketing activities within an organization; they may look for more affordable talent that has the necessary marketing skills without considering the PM expertise that can lead those activities. We also see that clearly when they look for an educational background that references business or marketing related degrees, however, few list any of the well know certifications in project management.

This brings up another question!

What about PM experience but not accreditation?

This is a valid argument, that if one has the experience of managing marketing projects, then to be certified is not a must. I would argue that PM is a science and has its methodologies and schools, and what you do learn from experience can be very much polished by actual knowledge driven from the institutes that govern this very important field in applied science.

The devil in the details

Marketing projects, from my experience, are as complex as constructing a building. Even if it was just about getting an art work out. The core teams I see at companies managing their own marketing activities are very skillful in their area’s. The copywriter, the designer, the SEO expert, and the communication expert.. etc. However, you get those marketing executives who tend to come from other industries, usually, and work to support the marketing teams run various tasks. Again my experience see these are the key people who put the pieces together and workout the details that makes or breaks marketing projects. As key as they are, I see them as the weakest link if they neither have the natural time management and organizational gift nor the trained skill of “Project Management”.

So my recommendation is and I hope many agree, if you are not going to invest in a digital project manager, or train your young marketing executive to be one, don’t be surprised to hear “Ooops, we missed the deadline!” or “We had to cancel” or “It was a mess” … cause as we all know “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail” even in the world of marketing.

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