So… you’ve landed your dream job as a marketing manager.
Your 22-year-old self would be so proud.
Not only did you find a job in your field, but you also managed to work your way up the ladder.
Maybe it’s not exactly what you thought it would be.
Gone are the days of being a “doer”.
You’re now responsible for a team and your days feel more like this… ↓
Than this… ↓
And that marketing degree you have didn’t teach you much about how to manage the *actual* challenges of marketing management.
Sure, you learned traditional marketing theories and critical thinking skills…
But what about proving ROI on your activities?
OR how to find time to get your own work done?
OR how to manage all the requests that come in?
If you’re feeling a little disgruntled and overwhelmed, this post is for you.
This post covers:
- Common IRL marketing management lessons they don’t teach you in school.
- Tips to overcome those challenges.
- A few tools and templates to help you make your way.
Solve Your Marketing Management Woes With These Free Templates
Before diving into all the things you *should* have learned at University and commiserating over the challenges of being a marketing manager, take a sec to download these no-cost resources:
- A Marketing Project Management Calendar Template (Excel)
- A 2019 Content Calendar Template (Excel)
- A Printable Paper Content Calendar Template (PDF)
- A Marketing Project Management Plan (Word)
Downloading these templates, combined with the IRL knowledge in this post, should add up to at least a college credit or two.
Get Your Download Now
Plus, join our email list to stay up-to-date.
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[Tweet “4 free #marketing management templates to make your life easier.”]
Lesson 1: Marketing Manager? More Like De Facto Project Manager
It’d be easy to make the mistake that 80% of a marketing manager’s role is focused on marketing and 20% on management.
However, most marketing managers find the opposite is true.
your team is focused on marketing, but you’re the one fitting all the puzzle pieces together, managing timelines, and shuffling workloads.
Not to mention most of your campaigns require the skills of a certified project manager to pull off.
If your marketing degree is anything like mine, there wasn’t a single aspect that focused on project management.
You’ve probably had to cobble something together that looks vaguely like project management while trying to keep your cool…
Even when it feels like you’re missing things and balls are getting dropped.
You’re a proverbial duck. Calm on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath it all to stay afloat.
That ends today.
Here are 2 different project management models you can start implementing right now.
The Agile Methodology
Agile Project Management was initially formulated for software development projects, but more and more marketing teams are finding it useful for managing their own projects.
The key to managing an Agile project is that large marketing campaigns are broken into smaller, more manageable sections.
These sections are called iterations or sprints.
Sprints are generally short, running over a few days or weeks. For instance, if you have a marketing campaign that will run the entire duration of Q1, this campaign will be broken down into small iterations.
Here’s an Example of How to Run a Marketing Project Adhering to Agile Principles:
Your lawn care company is running an early bird promo through the winter to increase business during a slow time. You’ll run the campaign through Q1.
The campaign will consist of email marketing, direct mail, tv commercials, radio spots and social media advertising.
Step 1) Set the Vision
To start, the project manager (or marketing manager) will start by creating a project brief to outline the details of the campaign.
Step 2) Sprint Planning
The team will come together to start spring planning. For our example project, the team would consist of an email marketer, graphic designer, social media advertiser, and perhaps an agency that would be responsible for the TV and radio spots.
During this step, team members will be asked about how long each element will take to complete – working backward from the campaign completion date. These timings and individual elements will then make up the sprint backlog.
Step 3) Daily Scrums
Production of the campaign begins, and the marketing manager or project manager hosts daily standup meetings to track progress and roadblocks.
CoSchedule’s team management dashboard is made to facilitate daily scrums.
You’ll see complete visibility into your team’s daily activities. Every task, associated with every campaign and what all your team members have on deck for the day.
You can easily use the dashboard to reshuffle workloads. Simply drag and drop the task to reassign it. The individual will see the new task pop-up on their daily to-do list.
Now your whole team can turn to CoSchedule first thing in the morning to see what they’ve got to get accomplished for the day.
Check it out in action:
Step 4) Retro
Once the project is completed, a retroactive meeting is held where the team discusses what went well and what could be improved. This feedback is then be used to improve future projects.
What are the Benefits of Choosing Agile?
Now that you know what Agile looks like, here are a few benefits to determine if this project management style is right for your team.
- Parts of the campaign can be developed at the same time. For instance, the TV commercial, radio ad and email marketing can all be developed concurrently – saving you time.
- It’s flexible and allows for changes based on roadblocks.
- It’s collaborative – daily standups keep all team members in the loop.
- Reduced risk – Agile techniques virtually eliminate the chance of absolute project failure since issues are addressed in real-time.
The Waterfall Methodology
The Waterfall project management methodology is a sequential, linear process of project management – rather than the iterative loop approach in Agile.
No phase begins until the prior phase is complete, and the completion of each phase is final— meaning the Waterfall approach does not allow you to return to a previous phase.
Think of it like and actual waterfall… the water can’t flow upward.
The only way to revisit a phase is to start over at phase one.
Here’s an Example of How to Run a Marketing Project Adhering to Waterfall Principles:
Let’s go back to our lawn care marketing example.
The campaign will still consist of email marketing, direct mail, tv commercials, radio spots and social media advertising.
Before anything can begin, graphics must be designed.
Then, the copy must be written for the direct mail flyers, which will serve as the creative direction for all the other items.
Only after that can the emails be strategized.
Each item must be completed in a specific order.
Should there be changes to the creative direction, you have to return to the graphics phase and start again.
What are the Benefits of Choosing Waterfall?
Why would you want to choose the Waterfall technique? Here’s a shortlist of some benefits of choosing Waterfall for your projects.
- It is simple and straightforward.
- Everything has a start and end, so budgets are easy to adhere to.
- Team members are less involved and can work on other things until their phase begins.
Waterfall vs Agile Methodologies
If you’re still confused about whether you should adhere to Waterfall or Agile, here is a guide to help.
Choosing Between Agile and Waterfall
Kanban Project View in CoSchedule
Most marketing managers deal with projects that involve both strategy and execution.
Marketers often spend so much time thinking about the strategy, that when it comes to execution, it's easy to resort to a "just get it done" mentality.
The execution always feels a lot messier and more opaque than it should.
You don't know what phase projects are in nor how close they are to completion...
See all Your Project Statuses in One Place with CoSchedule's Kanban View
To get started with the Kanban view, navigate over to the left-hand menu on your CoSchedule calendar. Then choose "Projects".
From there, you'll see a card view of custom statuses so you can see a high-level view of every project and every phase they are in.
You can group the kanban view by three different ways:
- By color label
- By status
- By team member
To change the grouping, click the drop-down menu in the top menu.
Ready to move a project on in the workflow? Simply drag and drop the project and it automatically changes its status, color label or team member.
What to know more? Check out this nifty video.
Lesson 2: You Rarely Have Time to do “Real” Work
Welcome to the world of marketing management.
In other words…
The constant barrage of admin…
Endless email threads…
Scavenging through that spreadsheet trying to plan next quarter’s activities…
All while hounding your team to get status updates on current projects.
This is a reality they didn’t teach you in your “MRKT 450 - Marketing Management” class.
Here are some best practice tips to get more time in your day.
[Tweet “How to conquer everything they didn’t teach you about marketing management in school.”]
Templatetize Your Workflows
Why reinvent the wheel every time you launch a new project when you can just apply a template?
Try creating a workflow template for each project to save yourself a ton of time on the front-end.
With CoSchedule, you can create your workflow once and apply it to all future projects. Tasks will be automatically assigned and due dates populated like magic.
In CoSchedule, open a new project.
From here, select the task template icon in the right-hand corner.
Then choose to create a new task template.
Name your task template.
Add all of the tasks that need to be completed before your project can launch. Assign an individual to complete the task and add a due date based on number of days before publish.
You can also add task approvals. So individuals are notified when a task is completed and is ready for their approval.
Now you can auto-assign tasks for all future projects with the click of a button.
Block Off Time to Get Stuff Done
Marketing managers need to be there for their team members.
But sometimes you need to put your head down, turn off all distractions, and get sh*t done.
Who would have thought that you would need to book a meeting with yourself, just to get your work done?
This is the life of a marketing manager.
Literally blocking off time in your calendar means you can devote a few hours a week to focus on nothing else but the task at hand.
Whether that’s a slide deck for your CMO, next year’s budget planning or breaking down last quarter’s results.
One tip about this strategy: be transparent with your team.
Tell them what your working on and that you’ll be unavailable for parts of the day. If they know you’re knocking something out, they’ll be more likely to respect your time.
Quit Chasing Down Status Updates
No one tells you when you become a marketing manager how challenging it is to get all members of your team on the same page.
Not to mention getting people from other marketing departments on the same page.
That’s an impossible task…
OR is it?
Using a project management platform like CoSchedule gives you better visibility into your *entire* strategy execution.
Every sub-department (like social media, product marketing, demand gen, content marketing, PR, email marketing, etc.) knows what campaigns each other are working on.
So you never duplicate work or waste time again.
Imagine how much time you would save if you could simply glance at the calendar and know what’s going on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
Here’s an example calendar to get a feeling for what ultimate marketing strategy visibility can look like.
Lesson 3: You Don’t Have to Measure *Everything*
The world of analytics can be overwhelming.
There are hundreds of things you are (or could be) measuring.
And it’s hard to tell vanity metrics apart from the things that drive *real* business value.
And activity ≠ results.
Just because you’re shipping marketing campaigns doesn’t mean you’re driving business results.
[Tweet “Marketers often mistake activity with results. Here’s how to fix it.”]
Here’s how to fix it.
Find Your One Metric That Matters (1MTM)
The 1MTM framework comes down to relentlessly focusing on growing the metric most closely related to growth.
It’s your north star.
Ok cool. But how do you know what that is?
Well, what is your company’s ultimate goal?
Let’s say it’s leads… because more leads, result in more sales.
You set your sights on 500 leads/month.
You’ve got to reverse engineer how to get that to find your 1MTM.
What results in more leads? Website traffic.
If you only have 2,500 visitors each month… that’s a 20% conversion rate. Probably a little high for most teams to achieve.
But you could probably convert 5%, right?
That said, you’ll need 10,000 visitors/month to get the 500 leads you’re after.
So, your 1MTM is website visitors. Your goal is to increase your traffic from 2,500 users to 10,000.
Everything your team does should be focused on increasing website visitors.
Lesson 4: Marketing Plans are a Big Lie
There I said it.
Marketing plans are the worst.
They take forever to create…
They don’t help you achieve real results…
And they promote blind execution.
They offer the illusion of due diligence while never contributing much in the way of creativity.
If the project were to go pear-shaped, the marketing plan offers binders upon binders of materials to prove you did your homework. (i.e. materials to cover your own ass.)
This means we spend a lot of our time as marketing managers pursuing non-failure rather than results.
[Tweet “Is your marketing plan focused on pursuing results or just avoiding failure?”]
That plan spells out how often you’re going to blog, publish to social media, and push ad campaigns. It proves all the activities you’re going to do.
BUT, activity doesn’t equal results.
Marketers are too caught up in bureaucracy.
Writing it down feels safe. But the problem with feeling safe is it becomes the goal. The marketing plan in and of itself is the goal, not the *actual* results.
The Formula to Replace Your Marketing Plan
All you need to start are the three constraints:
One Metric that Matters + Goal + Timeline
- One Metric that Matters: The first constraint is laser beam focus on the one metric that will accelerate your business. (Website visitors in the example above.)
- Goal: The second constraint is specificity. Be dead-set on the driver that influenced your 1MTM. (Obtaining 500 leads/month in our earlier example.)
- Timeline: The third constraint is speed. Define a clear timeline for when the goal becomes reality. It should give you butterflies. (I.e. it’s much shorter than what sounds safe or comfortable.)
And there you have it. The three constraints of your new documented marketing strategy. The tactics remain fluid, so you can #failfast.
A combination of both terrifying and refreshing, with a dash of agile thinking to top it off.
Lesson 5: Embrace Failure
Failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
What’s the best part about failure?
It teaches you a valuable lesson about what works and what doesn’t.
Failure means that you’re pushing yourself, taking risks, and trying new things. AND it gives you the opportunity to improve and try again.
Colleges don’t teach you about failure.
You’re meant not to fail.
But in the real-world, failure is inevitable. That Facebook live video series you thought would push x number of visitors to your site flopped; OR maybe that holiday sale campaign didn’t bring in as many customers as you wanted.
That. Is. Ok.
You’ve tried something new. You learned it didn’t work. And can adjust for next time.
Lesson 6: There’s No “Correct” Answer
In a lot of industries, there’s a “correct” answer.
In medicine, if you have a broken arm, the correct answer is to set the bone and cast it.
In school, there’s a correct answer. That scan-tron form expects you to fill out the “correct” bubble to get the answer right.
But in IRL marketing, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Take this example:
A colleague and I were just discussing whether or not to release a podcast over the holiday break.
At first blush, you may think, “don’t do it, people are with their families and won’t be listening to podcasts.”
However, some people might be traveling (aka the perfect time to tune into a podcast).
OR they might be taking advantage of some extra time off by heading to the gym (also, not a bad time to listen to a podcast).
You see, in marketing, there are plenty of creative and useful answers. You might just find that holiday episode of your podcast crushed it.
OR you might find it tanked.
Either way, you’ll know for next year.
If you hold out waiting for the “correct” answer, you’ll become paralyzed and will never move forward.
So stop waiting for the correct answer to show itself – it likely doesn’t exist.
CoSchedule is THE Best Solution for Marketing Managers
Alright marketing managers...
If you’re ready to level up on your productivity and organization, schedule a demo to learn all the ways CoSchedule can save you time.
It’s the only project management software designed with the unique challenges of marketing teams in mind.