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June 08, 2013

Is Marketing Too Vague To Manage?

Seth Godin always has interesting (and sometimes controversial) things to say about marketing. When it comes to marketing project management, Seth wrote on his blog that marketing projects are:

"...almost always vague.
They almost always involve people who aren't your direct reports.
And they almost always use people who have other stuff on their plate."

I completely agree that these are some valid reasons why marketers are struggling, but I also think there are plenty of other challenges. I would add to the list that:

- Marketing projects involve visual/subjective deliverables. Ever heard the feedback "I don't like the way it looks"?
- Most projects have very short cycle times
- Marketing projects require lots of different approvals including approvals from people that often don't know anything about marketing
- Projects come in groups of 10 to 10,000. I've never heard of a marketing department working on just one open project.
- Many marketers lack basic project management skills (they're marketers not project managers)

No wonder MPM is a pain. Should we all just pack it in and take the next couple of weeks off? I for one have some yard work that needs to get done.

Well, before you tell your boss that you'll see him/her next month, I would offer up the following insight...

The above items are all just really good excuses to be lazy when it comes to managing your marketing projects. However, if you add some discipline to your projects, these are obstacles that can be overcome. Here are three basic things to keep in mind:

1) If you don't take the time to gather proper requirements, your project will be harder to manage (btw...this is basically Seth's recommendation, but he is much hipper than I am so it sounds cooler when he says it).

2) You need an effective method for communicating to your extended team (direct team members plus customers, partners, etc.). A lot of people try to use email. I don't recommend it.

3) You need a way to capture best practices so that you won't reinvent the wheel the next time you do a similar project.

On a future post, I think I'll write about why marketing projects are easier to manage than other project types. That should make us all feel a little better. Ok, back to my yard work.