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3 Big Reasons Why Marketers Need Project Management Tools

3 Big Reasons Why Marketers Need Project Management Tools

By Steve Pogue

Just because your nameplate doesn’t say “Project Manager” doesn’t mean you aren’t one.

Wedding planners are project managers. So are systems engineers. And if you’re a marketer in charge of campaigns and bringing people together to get things done, so are you.

Let’s talk about why and how a project management tool could be the most important asset on your marketing team.

3 Big Reasons Why Your Marketing Team Needs Marketing Project Management Software

Here’s why marketing and project management aren’t two mutually exclusive disciplines, and how they’re more like a Venn diagram with lots of common ground in the middle.

1. Results mean everything.

Our results will almost always have a huge impact on what our marketing efforts look like in the future. Past results will often determine how big or small our budget is for the next year, what kinds of marketing we can justify investing more in, what kinds of efforts we can rein in, and what kinds of campaigns our target markets respond best to. Even the headcount will be affected b results.

Results are everything in the marketing world. How can we manage them if we’re not measuring them? And not just measuring them at the most basic level, but measuring them in a uniform and simple (yet sophisticated) way?

A good project management tool will make it easy for you to set up standard procedure for tracking and storing results and analytics. A great project management tool lets you upload documents and spreadsheets, edit and add notes to them, and make it clear who is responsible for what initiative and that initiative’s results.

2. A campaign has lots of roles and moving parts.

The importance of staying on the same page is multiplied when you have a big team in lots of different kinds of roles—ranging from artistic roles like illustrators and copywriters, to technical roles like coders and data analysts.

The importance of staying on the same page is super multiplied when you have any one of these roles filled by someone who works remotely or in another organization.

And all these moving parts and roles—no matter what they do, or where they are—need to work together to get things done.

That’s literally what project management tools were made for! A good project management tool feels like a home base that everyone can come check in on at any point in the project and know exactly where they stand in their role, where the whole team stands, and what still needs to be done.

A great PM tool can help you get organized during the moment of truth, the most crucial test of whether or not your moving parts have come together in perfect harmony: product and campaign launches.

In Workzone, you can create individual project spaces for your biggest campaigns, events, product launches or even customers with individual project workspaces. You can set up smaller projects within these larger workspaces, stop your files from getting mixed up and know where each project stands before launch day. Everything remains organized and on track with workspaces.

And if a good project management tool can help you simply stay sane on those nail-biting launch days? Sounds worth it to me.

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3. A campaign IS a project.

And just like any other kind of project, a campaign has a budget, a set of team members and roles, a timeline, data and target markets, and a goal. And keeping all this important campaign info in separate places (spreadsheets, Google Calendar, a few word docs) sounds super cumbersome and will never give your team the full birds-eye view of the campaign.

That’s the beauty of a good PM tool: it’s good at showing you the full picture, but also helps you drill down and organize the small stuff. You don’t get top-down organization like that from a set of standard office tools.

A good PM tool asks for all the standard inputs you need, essentially asking you: what does success look like? And once you’ve filled in that information, the PM tool has the power to give you a clear map to that success. It’s great at mapping out your path to success for you and your team and showing you exactly where you are on that map at all times.

In Workzone one of the ways this map takes shape is as a project plan. Project plans will help your team stay on track. You can build out project milestones with specific tasks and dependent subtasks, perfect for tracking a task’s progress as it moves from one creative to another, or through creative review before arrives back in marketing.

What Marketing Projects + A Great PM Tool Looks Like

What are some of the creative situations in which a marketer would need a project management tool? Let’s talk about a few of the biggest and most important.

Example 1: Content Promotion Plans

Because if you’re thinking about getting into the content marketing game, your job doesn’t end once you hit the publish button.

As a matter of fact, a good PM tool could keep your head in the game before you hit publish—from brainstorming content ideas and researching what kind of content your target audience engages with most, all the way to getting your influencer to share it on social media and posting about it on your own social media on a regular basis.

Here’s how a PM tool can keep your content production rolling smoothly:

  • The calendar can keep track of deadlines for all roles, including writers, editors, videographers, designers, photographers, and anyone else who had a role in the making the final product shine.
  • The to-do list makes it easy to break it down into the steps needed to create a blog post (or a video for Instagram, or any kind of content) into simple, actionable tasks. You’ll be able to see everyone’s to-do list and what still needs to be done to before hitting send.
  • Social media or content marketing blitz? Good news: that’s a project. One you can organize with target dates, milestones, budgets, and goals.

Oh, and if you’ve ever been plagued with version confusion in your content creation? Even better news: Your files are updated and clearly marked after even the tiniest of changes, and version control will no longer be a problem.

Example 2: Creating Product Overview Sheets

It sounds like a huge and scary undertaking that requires many hands (product designer, product manufacturer, and technical copywriter) but a great PM tool can make it a breeze.

  • Review work and approve quickly with a tool like Workzone. Getting product experts and technical copywriters to give the A-okay on the nitty gritty is easy: you can review, mark up and comment right inside Workzone project management software to avoid any miscommunication. Team members will receive email alerts to let them know the next steps to take.
  • Share files easily. All those product specs and images are going to have to all come together somehow, so we might as well do it in an organized fashion with easy-to-use file sharing.
  • Get a bird’s-eye view of the production chain: from drafting product overview sheets, to getting professional photos taken of your product, to getting the exact specs from the manufacturer, to having a copywriter spruce it up a bit, to sending it off to the printers. There’s so many roles and checkpoints throughout the process of creating a product overview sheet that you’ll want to see dependencies and next steps every step of the way.

Example 3: Developing Infographics

Just like launching content promotion plans as discussed above, you’re going to want a smooth orchestra of to-dos, deadlines, milestones, budgets, and goals to keep you on track.

Especially because infographics are one of the most expensive kinds of content to create and can easily get way off track without a clearly defined roadmap. A bare-bones and not-so-great-looking infographic could run you just $5 on a content mill like Fiverr, but a great one could cost you anywhere from $100 to $3,000 and more.

That’s a lot of money to throw at something that’s not being meticulously managed marketing project management.

And though you might think, “All I have to do is hire a designer, why would I need to make it this whole big thing?” think again. An infographic also requires data, and where are you going to get that data from? You’ll likely involve a designer and market researcher at the most basic level, but you could also be coordinating an illustrator, photographer, and copywriter into the mix.

Unless you’re outsourcing the entirety of the infographic to Infographics R Us .com (I totally made that up and am pretty certain this is not a thing), you’re going to have to handle the creation of your infographic like a project—because it is one.

Example 4: Launching a Popup (Shop or Website)

Whoa, we’ll definitely need a project management tool for this.

Launching something as elusive and hype-worthy as a popup, whether it be a brick-and-mortar shop or a campaign-specific website, is no small undertaking. Project management tool save our sanity, please.

With features like the team calendar where you can see what everyone’s working on at once and app integration (that keeps you connected with all players on Slack and in touch with your data on Tableau!), a capable PM tool will be like your event planning right hand man.

Again, keeping all the players on the same page is key in a situation like this. For a brick-and-mortar popup shop, you’ll be coordinating tasks with the property owners, point-of-sale specialists and store design specialists, interior designers, a retail team, support staff, and maybe even caterers and DJs.

And even though these players aren’t necessarily using your PM tool with you on this project, you’ll know who on your team is acting as liaison to that player and who is responsible for making sure the caterer brings the chocolate-covered bananas. Because seriously, it ain’t a pop-up party unless we have food.

How Will You Manage Your Marketing?

I subscribe to the idea that all things content marketing fit cozily into the project perspective, not just the 4 examples we’ve mentioned above.

What about you? Were you reading this and thinking, “Oh man, that one big pain-in-the-butt thing on my plate could totally use some project management-style organization”? What was it?

How will you manage your marketing projects this year?

Steve Pogue is the Marketing Operations Manager at Workzone. He writes about project management tips and the buying process. When not at Workzone, you can find him playing vintage base ball or relaxing with his family at home.