Confessions of a Marketing Director

Building a Strong Foundation for Marketing Work

Now to start, I'm not saying I’m the project management champion of the world (although that would spice up my LinkedIn profile), but I am an absolute believer in fine-tuning this less talked about skill. Because after years of developing and delivering a myriad of marketing campaigns through countless channels and on a wide range of teams, I can say with confidence, “Your campaign output is only as good as your campaign input.” 

Of course planning, calendars, and scheduling is not what enticed me to become a marketer. I’m here for the rush of a new idea, the excitement behind a creative campaign, the joy of nit-picking the color of an ad (sorry to every designer I’ve ever worked with). 

But getting that beautiful ad campaign out the door – without heartache and hangups – relies on planning. And this is why I believe establishing a solid project management practice is an essential step many marketers are missing. And I’ll be honest, producing a campaign can be done without organization (oh, I have done it). But many things like speed and quality suffer as a result. 

So, that being said, and because we all love listicles, here are the top reasons why I believe you should stop everything and build or refine a strong project management foundation for the future. 

And then you can celebrate and release campaign confetti.

1. Mind reading does not scale

Often, we as marketers know what needs to be done. After all, this probably is not your first campaign rodeo and it can feel counterproductive to take the time to deconstruct it. But as a company scales or projects start moving at faster pace, blind trust is not a sustainable strategy for a high-functioning team. 

Without being able to fully understand what others are working on, time is ultimately wasted and double work inevitably ensues. Communication channels like Slack get overrun with the same messages and leaders feel guilty having to check in, again and again. Moreover, in today’s world of remote work, the inability to “see the greater vision” can leave team members unnecessarily in the dark, leading to a stressful working environment, a breakdown in morale, and a tiring cycle of circling back...just to circle back again. 

So how can project management put an end to this campaign chaos?

2. Make a plan to plan

At the beginning of every project or campaign, devote time to building your timeline and tasks. Personally, for much larger projects or campaigns, I always find it easier and less daunting to invite a few other team members to join in for a working session. By building the necessary tasks and outlining a cohesive calendar in real time together, you’ll be able to bounce ideas off each other, make sure you’re not forgetting key steps, and ensure your deadlines are realistic. 

This is also a great way to uncover issues before they arise. By defining steps proactively, you uncover roadblocks that you wouldn’t have predicted had you not outlined things prior to diving right into a project. This could encapsulate everything from how long certain tasks are estimated to take to the people needed to support a smooth execution, or challenges that could arise due to conflicting campaigns. 

Once created, team members are able to visualize the full lifecycle of the campaign, raise concerns, collaborate, and feel confident in their role. 

But as we all know, the best laid plans can often change at 5:45pm on a Friday. So then what?

3. Delegation for the win

By creating a source of truth that can be widely shared at the onset of a campaign or project, it's exponentially easier to reassign tasks, should unforeseen changes impact responsibilities or bandwidth.

The ability to easily hand off a project mid-flight is imperative when handling pivoting projects, changing priorities or other unexpected challenges. By keeping progress logged in an accessible and visible solution, anyone has the ability to pick up where someone else has left off – just in time to save the proverbial day.

Ok! You did it. You got that last-minute project out the door. Time to move on? Not quite. Before skipping on to your next award-winning idea, take the time to make your project repeatable.

4. Rinse and repeat for success

By templatizing projects, you can build a blueprint for ongoing success your team can use again and again. This practice also allows you to document anything that didn’t work as planned or required extra input. 

By taking the time to analyze the project outcome and modify your template accordingly, your next project will only run smoother. In no time, you’ll have a repository for success that streamlines every idea into action. And what would be more rewarding than jumpstarting every project with a proven playbook? Sharing your success easily across the organization.

5. Visibility makes the dream work

Along with creating project visibility for the marketing department, utilizing a project management solution allows you to demonstrate the value of your marketing efforts to leadership and across the greater organization. 

Whether sharing priorities or plans to marketing leadership, the C-Suite, or giving those leaders a quick way to share marketing initiatives and results more widely, having everything easily accessible in a project management solution allows for unrivaled transparency. This can aid in everything from providing updates to an organization’s board, planning alongside other department milestones, collaborating more closely with Sales and Customer Success, you name it – the list goes on and on. 

Furthermore, maintaining project planning in an easy-to-understand format allows for quick reference when it comes to everything from budget asks, illustrating team capacity, or tying positive business outcomes to strategic marketing initiatives. 

Which leads me to my final – and perhaps most altruistic benefit.

6. Help future marketers

Marketing has changed dramatically over the years. And while details of my college marketing classes have mostly faded, I can honestly say that project management wasn’t a top focus. Creativity? Yes. Communication skills? Check. But somewhere between the flurry of ad agencies to the complexity of ABM campaigns, I’ve come to the realization that project planning is mostly a learn-as-you-go experience. And I don’t believe I’m the only one! 

Which is why I think it’s valuable for marketers to rethink and reprioritize how we structure our solutions, with project management at the heart of the tech stack. Because – as marketers are asked to do more (often with less) it’s vital to build our departments and teams in a way that drives productivity, facilitates communication, supports collaboration, and provides the insights needed to highlight marketing’s contributions.  

There, now. You’ve earned it – it's time to celebrate and release the confetti! 🎉

Tenon, Marketing Work Management for Enterprise Teams

Tenon is a Work Management solution developed exclusively for Marketers. We provide a single space for marketing teams to organize and collaborate on campaigns, projects, and tasks so everyone stays in the loop from start to finish. Built on ServiceNow, we're powered by a platform already used by IT, HR, Finance, and Customer Service, so your company can collaborate and get work done like never before.

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