If you’re a really, really lucky marketer you’ll be asked to work on specific projects that are often one off situations like a price increase, a product or brand launch or a customer migration. These situations can be very taxing because might require skills that you don’t dust off much. Alternatively, they will require every skill you have, or should have, learned.
This isn’t the check list of the marketing bit. This is the check list of how to get things done.
What is project marketing?
Project marketing isn’t just about the 4 p’s to bring a product or brand to market and sell it in profitably. It’s also about good decision making, understanding where to compromise and working with and understanding the work of, the entire project team you are in.
You need clear goals for your customer and their experience and being able to focus your energy into achieving a result for your customer, on time and on message for your business. You also need to lead and communicate well. Over all, your soft skills enhance your ability to use your marketing skills well.
Your marketing skills?
Think product design, brand development, communications, media scheduling, PR, design and agency management, writing, fulfillment, documentation, collateral control.
Add in financial forecasting, market development, internal communications, budgeting, advertising, database marketing, data mining and quality control.
Don’t forget customer experience, consumer behaviour, you name it, its in there. Plus a bit of project management and probably a bit of technical understanding and specification so the systems or distribution channels you use match what you are trying to deliver.
So if you are faced with this what do you do?
The first thing you have to do is learn to say ‘No’ well.
Whenever a project exists everyone eyes it up and tries to dump everything they don’t want to do or should have done into the project. This means scoping out what you are trying to achieve for the customer and developing a very blinkered approach into meeting that objective. Once you have that clear goal, you can explain easily and politely why a ‘requirement’ has nothing to do with the end goal.
Understand your audience and map out the project deliverable looks like from the customers point of view.
Many projects like migrations from an obsolete product to another, or a price increase, are all about the business and have little benefit for the customer. If they weren’t happy with what they have now, they wouldn’t be using it anymore. But they are. In fact, they will probably like things exactly as they are.
Draw yourself a process diagram on the moments of truth for the change you are making. Then understand
- how will this be communicated
- what questions will they ask/complaints they will make
- what will they need to carry out their function (if relevant)
- what pain is being delivered to the customer
- what is in it for them to do what you want them to do
- where is the value
From here you will work out what information you need to bring to the table and can work back to the source for delivery.
3. One of these things does not belong …
Check that everything you have been asked to do is relevant to the task
A lot of assumption goes on at the start of a project. Check every fact with your in-house legal advisers, your product people, your IT people and your customers. If it involves suppliers and you are making a change, know what they need in minute detail.
Once you know what is relevant you can quickly gain agreement to descope the assumptions that have no real benefit to either the customer or the business or the process (often to the relief of the project team). It will also help you lead as you will speak with knowledge and authority.
4. Identify the elephant in the room
Your pain in any project will come from the points that everyone has not thought thoroughly about. These usually become things everyone wants to avoid. A small detail ignored now becomes a large detail later on. With these, find support to think more about them by asking questions in meetings.
5. There, there, it’s going to be okay
Your internal comms need to extend to the decision making committee and the boss. If everything is going smoothly, on time, on budget and the boss doesn’t know about it, prepare for toys falling out of the cot.
The project and its officers need to be seen to be managing. The executive team will feel a lot more comfortable about a project slightly off the rails that they know about, than a great project they know nothing about.
6. Develop commitment issues
You are two weeks out, about to launch, you have the media spots booked and …. you have just been told the project is delayed. Your fault? Yes it is.
Never make a hard and fast commitment to externals, particularly where there is cost, until you can see the finished product, change, whatever. This means leaning on your suppliers early on and setting their expectations low. Get used to saying “I’d like to pencil that in”.
7. Be interested
You are a working part of a wider project. It’s not all about you. If your don’t understand what everyone else does you can’t be as effective as you could be.
It’s a project. You may have to try and achieve things you never thought you’d be asked to do. Like an entire campaign designed and booked in a day. Or redesigning a website 2 weeks from launch. If you don’t believe that anything is possible, someone is likely to come along and prove you wrong.
So say Yes. It’s a lot of fun.