How to plan your marketing projects and get things done on time
Over commitment is one of the deadly sins of marketing managers. When pressed to deliver more leads, or to help out with a few extra projects the reaction from senior marketing management is the typical “yes, we can do it!”. The results, we know well… the marketing team shifts priorities, put whatever they were working on in the back burner and focus on the new fire to be extinguished.
The constantly changing priorities and always imminent deadlines is not new to anyone working in marketing, but often times the new directions are given without much planning behind. That’s when things start to get ugly and new fires are spotted. You know what I mean, suddenly you are in a meeting and someone asks “when was the banner shipped to the show?” only to face blank stares. “What do you mean?” asks the poor soul. “Was I supposed to ship it? I didn’t know we were sending it this time!”.
Where’s the new landing page? What happened to the press release? Who is working on the new copy for the magazine ad? These are all typical questions that happen because of lack of control over the marketing projects in your organization. By “projects” I mean campaigns, events, trade shows, and those internal tasks that really don’t apply to any other category but still need to be managed.
And these questions not only take time to be answered but add to the level of stress of your whole team. Not knowing what we missed this time can be damaging for morale and productivity. So how do you ensure you don’t miss any marketing deliverables next time?
First, when accepting a new project or coming up with a new campaign, think of it in terms of deliverables. Break it down into big chunks of things that need to get done (not the task itself, but the result of doing the task or tasks). It’s like building a house (to use a familiar analogy). You break down your “house project” into many deliverables, like:
– Exterior Wall
Then for each deliverable you come up with tasks that will have to be carried out. For the “Foundation” deliverable you may have tasks like “conduct topography layout study”, “excavate site according to study results”, and “pour concrete”. For the “Roof” deliverable you might have “purchase shingles”, “nail shingles to structure”, etc.
Marketing projects are not different. Your deliverables are likely:
– Press Release
– Email Marketing
– Print Ad
And for each you have specific marketing tasks your team needs to perform, like writing copy, reviewing the new design, sending the artwork to the printer or uploading to the website.
Yes, you may do this break down of deliverables in your head before you distribute work to your team, but by putting it down on paper and showing it to them you will ensure everything is covered. Besides, if they see all elements of your next campaign or project, they will have a better understanding of all components and can point out something you may have missed.
Breaking Down Your Work
This process of breaking down your marketing project into deliverables and then breaking the deliverables into tasks is what project management professionals call a “work breakdown structure”. You are breaking down the project into components that will be assigned to people to work on. The WBS, as it is called, serves not only to tell people what will be done but also shows what will not be done. It is your scope and marching orders.
Reporting on costs, time taken, and even results is much easier when thinking in terms of deliverables. Also, tracking progress from a deliverable standpoint is easier than looking at individual tasks. When you ask the team if the email invitation for the upcoming webinar is done and you get an answer like “oh, Bob is working on the copy and I am still tweaking the design”, you know that the answer is “the webinar invite is not complete”. Focusing on what’s done and what’s in progress from the task level only takes extra time and effort.
If all tasks associated with a deliverable are complete, you can call that deliverable completed. If one task is still in progress, then that deliverable is pending. Simple as that. Once you start talking to your team and managing in terms of deliverables, the deadlines and shifting priorities become easier to manage.
Managing Marketing Deliverables Online
If pen and paper work for you, fine. Use a big whiteboard and layout your next marketing project there, brainstorm with your team and assign them their tasks during your next staff meeting. There is a better way, though, and that’s with Aprix Marketing Manager.
We created a web-based marketing project management solution based on the best practice followed by project management professionals of breaking down your work into deliverables and then into tasks. The system has pre-configured marketing deliverable templates that help you define your project’s goals and allows you to assign tasks to each deliverable before sending them to your team.
By better managing your marketing projects, you can increase productivity and get more done in less time. Think of your projects in terms of deliverables before assigning tasks to your team, and you will be better prepared to handle the next fire.
Note: the screenshot above shows an example of a marketing campaign setup in the system and deliverables associated with that campaign. Users have an easy and fast way of knowing what are the components of the campaign and can easily track progress. If you’re curious as to why it looks like there’s some Star Wars theme going on, check out our previous post about Darth Vader being a Marketing Manager.