If not working for Apple, Coca-Cola or Nike, your marketing team is probably smaller, commonly exercised hierarchies are bypassed and the ever necessary division of labour has turned upside down. In niches such is this one, sudden strokes of ingenuity are precious, and those are indeed impossible without a little bit of a creative mess.
Stay Ingenious, Become Manageable
Even if you do thrive in freedom of spontaneous choices, the rules of the marketplace are the same for all; no matter the size of your business, your selling rates can be just as high as the promotion allows them to be. The sole purpose of marketing is to reach as far as possible in order to catch and convert leads; especially in the online world, where being present, alluring and convincing across all channels is a recipe for success, marketing implies being everywhere at the same time.
For no other reason but favourable completion, marketing experts can no longer stay immune to automation. Intuitive tools are in the very core of effective project managing, and due to their complexity of execution, marketing campaigns are exactly that – projects that need to be broken down into less challenging and more manageable units. Here’s how.
- Always Plan Ahead
In order to turn your clutter into projects and your marketing squad into a well-oiled machine, you’ll need to start learning the basics. Project management is not the least demanding discipline in the field, but rest assured that it is among the most advantageous ones.
From initiation to completion. Once you start thinking of your marketing campaigns in terms of business projects, you’ll be able to fragmentize them into consecutive phases – most commonly, project management insists on initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and completion, but the course of your operation will depend on the size, complexity and nature of your particular campaign.
Prearrange! However you choose to run it, it’s highly unlikely that a project will be completed smoothly, without some necessary pre-arrangements. As always, thinking, analysing and sketching ahead is a precursor for unhampered execution, so be sure to take some time to consider the “what” of the campaign (what it needs to contribute to your company in order to meet its goals and what kind of means it will require in the process) before you start working on the “how” (how to actualize it and thus reach the favourable outcome).
- Understand & State Your Objectives
To make the whole process less convoluted, think of it as an infrastructure waiting to be built. Just as the building requires an architectural support, a project cannot be developed without a firm set of fundamentals.
The initiation phase thus implies a clear Objective Statement in which project goals are defined and analysed. Essentially, it should explore the “what” of your campaign, and serve as a both base for further development and a powerful incentive for a team. By providing a transparent aim for the entire team to strive towards, goal setting is of massive importance for planning ahead, just as well as for optimizing the workflow once the execution phase begins.
- Record, Save & Share
Project management thus commences with a draft stating the fundamentals of the process; what comes next is a series of comprehensive documents that should break the project down into individual milestones and consider all significant details. Each given phase of the proceeding should be recorded, if not to become official, than to allow your team an insight into individual steps and the overall course of action.
Now, having all of these files cluttering your workplace will certainly slow the project down. The digital revolution to which marketing has already became accustomed to actually calls for paperless documentation, which is simultaneously the third step toward increasing your team’s efficiency. Having them all on cloud, where they can be created, stored and edited on the spot, just as well as shared with clients and stakeholders will save your team plenty of time, not to mention keep them easily accessible, archived and secure.
- Fragmentize To Organize
The project planning phase, determined by a work breakdown structure, is where all the project managing magic happens – being the phase responsible for atomizing the project into phases, phases into milestones and milestones into tasks and subtasks, it is a crucial part of preparing the project for its timely realization.
As such, this phase is one of the main responsibilities of a project manager, whose role is to establish a timeframe, estimate budget and start allocating tasks to individual team members. At this point, the project, now transformed into a chain of dependencies, needs to be submitted to a best scheduling software available in order to keep each of the milestones neatly organized and clearly visible to everyone involved. Complex as it is, the work breakdown structure requires scheduling to be automated, and would take up a lot of time and effort without a little help from project management tools.
- Allocate Roles, Establish To-Do Lists
The same applies to task assignment, which also takes place during the work breakdown structure phase. Once all milestones are defined, the manager can start working on allocating specific roles to team members in accordance to his or her own experience and their unique sets of expertise.
In the olden days, the to-do lists of individual employees would be presented on a whiteboard, but in the era of digitalization, they are much easier to create directly on a team management platform, from where they can seamlessly be managed afterwards. Once again, project management tools provide a much-needed transparency of allocated roles and assigned tasks, thus allowing impeccable workflow and setting the ground for effective coordination.
- Synchronize the Workflow
Whenever there’s a large workforce employed on a singular project, there’s always a risk of potentially hazardous miscommunication. Allocation of tasks is not where a project manager’s job ends – once the individual to-do lists are created, team members have to lend on the same page in order to efficiently communicate, coordinate their assignments and collaborate when needed.
As much as these lists are accessible to everyone involved, a shared timetable is still a way more convenient tool for perfect synchronization. For marketers in particular, having a clear overview of social media and blogging calendars, is the only way of pinpointing the perfect time for both content generation and its publishing. Additionally, team calendars simultaneously display project outline and the daily “what’s coming up or due soon” reports, thus helping managers stay on top of the project as a whole while, allowing team members a valuable visualisation at the same time.
- Keep Track Of Time
If you observe your project as a composite process in which success of respective milestones is defined by their causality, it makes perfect sense that, like elsewhere, time is of the essence in project management as well. Not only that it determines the final impact of your marketing campaign, but efficient timing is one of the most significant strategic moves for increasing the productivity of an entire team as well.
With online time tracking tools, most of which allow integration with plenty of basic project management systems you’ll be compelled to use, the duration of each task can be estimated beforehand, thus assuring the possibility to precisely calculate the time needed for individual milestones and the entire project to be finished. Time tracking is a nice way of monitoring your team’s efficiency, and conversely, a brilliant tactic for meeting the deadlines in time so that individual team members can leverage themselves.
- Monitor Your Progress
Although a necessary mean for updating clients and stakeholders of project’s progress, timely reports are significant for a number of reasons more. Just like transparency with individual tasks is needed for team members to coordinate their work more efficiently, status reports are the most accurate and specific indicator of the job that’s been done so far. By using charts and graphs, they display a visualisation of current accomplishments, thus making it perfectly clear whether the project was a successful endeavour so far, and pinpointing potential halts for a manager to avoid in the future.
- Stay On the Budget
Even if there’s a possibility for a project’s completion deadline to get a bit delayed, when it comes to respecting the budget initially established for execution, similar kinds of surpassing are never allowed. Project budgeting is quite a feat, especially in less certain economic climates when additional expenditures are expected from the very start.
However challenging the task, the original financial estimation can prove as sufficient over the course of project development, but only if primary analysis is done with the utmost certainty and followed through at each step in the project lifecycle.
Just like time, budget tracking is covered by project management tools with precision – in addition to notifying both managers and team members of the amount spent on each milestone, these potent features compare the original budget plan with actual spendings over the course of the project’s execution, therefore providing complete transparency in terms of finances, and serving as a notification system for team managers to act accordingly.
Mentioned in multiple occasions before, the employment of project management tools may just be the most essential step towards improved efficiency. Their intuitive features and user-friendly navigation streamline every part of the process, starting with initial documentation and completing with budget tracking. And, since marketing projects in almost all cases depend on viral omnipresence, these assistance tools are proven as particularly beneficial for your unique niche.
Ultimately, all of our promotional methods are nowadays bagged together in a far-reaching digital marketing package, and rare are the teams that practice one of these strategies without even tackling the others. SEO campaigns go hand in hand with content generation, blogging is usually insufficient in the absence of compelling social media incentives, while email marketing can hardly even function without them. To be successful in this niche, one simply has to be able to honour the principles of a virtual omnichannel.
Project management tools are therefore not designed only as handy teamwork platforms – more importantly, they serve as a unifying base from which all of the marketing channels can be accessed, managed and monitored at a glance. And, since they are cloud-based, project management tools keep all vital data available at all times, thus making your team’s workflow actionable and productive, and consequently, skyrocketing its effectiveness.