Is your organization failing to close the gaps between strategy and execution?

If you answered “yes” to yourself, then you aren’t alone…

The truth is many small businesses or agencies put in a great deal of effort brainstorming and planning a beautiful digital marketing campaign, only for that plan to go nowhere. Most projects and plans fail due to poor planning or lack of execution. It might be relatively easy for a team of marketers to build a digital marketing campaign, but organizing and executing it is a little different.

In the book, 4 Disciplines of Execution, also nicknamed “4DX”, the author details that accountability is the first rule of execution.

In our experience, executing a digital marketing campaign requires careful coordination, a project management framework, and an experienced PM driving all of it, who also knows how to work with creative teams.

In this article, we will explain how and why to project manage your digital marketing campaign to ensure that your campaign launches on time and yields the best results.

The Concept of Project-Based Marketing

We have seen too many clients make the same mistake: approaching their marketing efforts as a “quick fix” rather than looking at it as a long-term project that is properly aligned with organizational goals and initiatives. In our experience, developing a strategic project plan based on your business’ culture and needs, goals, direction, and that is also aligned with your overall marketing strategy will not only get more projects done but will deliver more desirable results.

How to Develop and Project Manage a Strategic Marketing Plan and Execution Model

Step 1: Determine Objectives, Goals, and Success Metrics

You can’t very well jump ahead with a project or marketing plan or strategy without first taking time to think about your goals and objectives, or even how you are going to measure whether or not the project or campaign was a success. We see this all too often—many marketing teams and executives rush to throw together a marketing plan without, A) taking the time to think through the purpose, B) how to determine whether or not campaign execution was a success or not.

To ensure you and your team avoid this, take the time to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this project?

  • What are the goals?

  • What are the challenges you are trying to solve?

  • How are you currently managing projects?

  • What do your current systems look like?

When setting goals and planning projects, follow the SMART formula to ensure that goals are realistic, attainable, relevant, and timely. Above all, goals should be in line with high-level organizational goals and direction.

Step 2: Resource Allocation and Management

One common mistake many businesses make is not fully assessing resources. In fact, more than 40 percent of certified project management professionals (PMPs) indicated that resource management and resource optimization are their top project management challenges today.

If companies and teams don’t take the time to fully assess their resources and determine whether or not their resources even have the time, availability, or capability to work on a project, then quality, execution, and even on-time delivery all suffer.

Therefore, when planning a marketing project, it’s important to assess the following:

  • What and who are our resources?

  • Do our resources have the right skill sets and capabilities to work on this project?

  • Who is going to do WHAT and by WHEN?

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan

Once we have all the above pieces to the project puzzle, we can begin developing an action plan. This can involve breaking down your marketing projects into a clear action plan. This can include:

Marketing roadmap —> Priorities —> Projects

Projects can then be broken down further into milestones, tasks, and individual activities (and clear deliverables).

The action should be just that: It should show clear action on who is working on what, and when each task is due. This not only minimizes the risks of task misalignment and miscommunications, but it also creates a layer of that super-important element to execution—accountability.

Once you have outlined an action plan, the next step is to circulate it with the team and review it to ensure everyone is on the same page. If necessary, be sure each and every stakeholder is in alignment and signs off on the plan.

Step 4: Execute

Of course, you can document a plan all day, but it won’t go anywhere unless execution is initiated. In fact, this is where most plans and projects sit stagnantly or fall through the cracks. After reviewing the action plan, be sure to also discuss a plan for execution.

  • Who will “own” the project?

  • Who will take the lead on assigning tasks and following up?

  • What is the first thing that needs to be done and who will do it?

Step 5: Monitor, Adapt, and Evolve.

After an action plan is created, the team has a kick off call, and the work begins, it’s important for a team leader or project leader to “drive” the project. This involves reviewing, monitoring, checking in,and following up with the team to ensure that everyone and everything is progressing smoothly. If there are blockers or areas where team members and resources get “stuck”, then step in to help problem-solve and push things forward, or find workarounds.

Be sure to also ask team members for their feedback and input in order to further adapt and evolve your marketing project management process. By approaching strategic plans and projects with a continuous improvement mindset, project leaders and teams can help to ensure successful project outcomes—every time.

A Proven Marketing Project Management Framework

In the 2018 PMI Pulse of the Profession survey, 82 percent of project leaders claim that it is extremely important to not only gather insights and learnings from previous projects but to also adapt processes to turn those learnings into action for future projects. In order to do this, there needs to be a greater sense of accountability, a process for adapting existing workflows, and a communication plan for communicating when process changes occur.

At Jaguar Business Solutions, we have worked with hundreds of small and startup businesses and agencies over the years. Many of the challenges they experience are related to insufficient resources, inefficient processes, poor project planning, and a lack of accountability.

Not only do we have a great deal of experience planning, executing, and managing marketing projects for clients, we have also developed our own flawless execution model as well as a process for helping clients to improve their internal processes.

Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help your business operate more efficiently, and help you actually get projects done—and done successfully.