5 Project Management Skills Every Marketing Manager Should Have

February 27, 2017 Marcus Varner
 

A good project manager can save time, money, and help keep a project in line and on time. By comparison, a marketing manager tends to be more of a creative director and client representative – he or she will oversee campaigns and marketing initiatives while communicating with clients to ensure the best possible results. Thus, we can see project and marketing management as being two distinct roles with two distinct skill sets.

If you wish to transform the marketing department into one that is as efficient and effective as it is creative and communicative, it pays to learn a thing or two from the project management side of the business. Project managers tend to be disciplined and logical; they are always thinking in terms of how to more efficiently and effectively complete a task or implement a project. It’s a set of skills that can be valuable to an organization.

Leveraging Project Management Skills to Your Advantage

On any marketing team, the ideal scenario would be to have both a project and marketing manager. In fact, we’ve advocated for having a professional project manager on your team before. But, say you don’t have a project manager or the means to hire one currently. Or, perhaps you want to incorporate some of the abilities and skills of your project manager into your management style. These tips can help you better understand and embrace some of the more unique roles of a traditional project manager – and in the process, become a better marketing manager.

1. Employee Recruitment

Being able to identify and recruit quality employees is a crucial requirement for any leader. This is no less true for marketing managers than it is project managers. Whereas a project manager may need to hire individuals to fill certain gaps in the workforce, marketing managers should always be mindful of complementing and supplementing their creativity with outside voices. Left to his or her own devices, a marketing manager can guide a department in a single direction that is homogenized and static. Fresh talent can inject a department with the dose of creativity that it needs to implement successful campaigns.

2. Task Delineation

Project managers know that they can’t do it all. A good manager is able to delegate tasks to other people. If you want to be an effective marketing manager, you need to realize that client communication and campaign conception cannot be the responsibility of you alone. You need to assume responsibility for scheduling and assigning employees to projects and roles, while enforcing the policies and procedures of your business. You may have entered the marketing profession because of the creativity it affords you, but it’s important to remember that a good manager does the dull along with the stimulating. Without a team, there is no management position. If your first instinct is simply to do it yourself, take a step back and think. If you have people on your team that you oversee, why not have them do it for you?

3. Mentorship and Leadership

As a marketing manager, you must remember that you cannot lose yourself in your campaigns. A graphic designer may be able to lose him or herself in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and your developers may be able to dive neck-deep into code all day long, but as a manager, you must lead your team. They will be looking to you for guidance, answers, opinions, direction, and mentorship. It may be hard to turn off the side of your brain that simply wants to focus on the creative side of marketing, but as a manager, your obligations extend beyond the client. Take a cue out of the project manager’s playbook and ingratiate yourself with your team.

4. Project Implementation

A project manager will leverage his or her experience in workflow, production, quality assurance, and scheduling to see projects through to their completion in an efficient manner. Marketing managers tend to have a less regimented approach to their responsibilities; they utilize their skills to calculate strategic plans of action and implement them accordingly, but there is often a heavy focus on idea conception, brainstorming, and back-and-forth communication. If you want to succeed as a marketing manager, it isn’t enough for you to conceptualize an idea for a campaign. You must be able to execute that campaign as well. Use the team you have at your disposal to bring your ideas to fruition – they won’t be able to accomplish what you’ve set out to accomplish unless you provide them with guidance and direction. Approach a marketing campaign or client relationship with the same diligence that a project manager approaches a particular project or goal.

5. Risk Assessment and Management

As a marketing manager, you likely have direct contact with clients (or stakeholders, in the event you work internally). Though there are definite advantages to forming close relationships with the decision-makers (it helps foster business, for one), it also presents risks – if something should go awry, you’re the first line of defense, which means you leave yourself vulnerable. Clients and executives alike expect campaigns to be executed smoothly and without mistakes. If a campaign goes unexpectedly fails due to some oversight that you neglected to take into consideration, it is you who ultimately will be held responsible. You must be able to assess and manage risks. And this is true not just from a project implementation standpoint, but on the whole. Risk management in the marketing world starts at idea conception. If you aren’t factoring in potential risks – which in marketing, can be legal, cultural, or even logistical in nature – you can’t effectively manage a marketing campaign.

Marketing Benefits from Project Management

Any marketing manager and professional will benefit from having project management skills. Using them on a daily basis helps you see everything you do as a project with small tasks, milestones, deadlines, and outcome.


Do you apply project management as a marketer? What specific skills do you use on a regular basis?

 

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Over the last 9 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront. His focus is always on breaking through the clutter while engaging audiences with brands' most foundational messaging. He currently oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content at Workfront.

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