These 5 project planning tips may not necessarily help you herd cats, but they will impress your boss once you get a stalled project up and running again or get a project back on track.

As a marketing manager, you’ll often be tasked with project planning and project management. Effective project managers are also good project planners. They know how to ask for, and gain, consensus. They know how to manage diverse talent and opposite personalities to get the job done.  Part diplomat and part shepherd, they ensure that projects run smoothly from start to finish.

To make your new marketing projects run more smoothly this year, use these five project planning tips written especially for marketing managers.

Project Planning Tips for Marketing Managers

  1. Always start with the end goal in mind, and keep the goal visible and quantifiable.  Without a clear-cut goal, projects tend to flounder. People lose interest. By creating a clearly defined and quantifiable goal for every marketing project you undertake, you’ll proceed with the end point in mind at all time. I used to write goals on big sheets of paper and post them at the front of the room during project meetings so that we could always point back to the goal when someone at the table agreed or disagreed with an idea presented. If the goal is visible and clear from the start, it helps focus the project and keep it on track.
  2. Identify key stakeholders, and then ask those stakeholders if they think everyone is at the table. Allow them to delegate someone else if they don’t have the time to work on the project or if they feel someone in their department is better qualified to work on the project. This also helps secure buy-in for the project, an important component for success.
  3. Use cost-benefit analysis or ROI to determine BEFORE you start a project if it’s valuable, useful and important enough to merit the team’s time. Show these figures to the team at the kickoff meeting or during the buy-in phase to make your case that they need to be part of the project. Not every great idea merits follow-through, and a cost-benefit analysis will help you weed out the time wasters from the potential projects on the marketing department’s slate.
  4. Scope out the project carefully, and include measurable milestones with details of who will achieve them on the team, how, and by when. Keep a running list of these details and follow up with team members frequently to ensure they’re on track.
  5. Communicate first, now and always. Just when you think you’ve communicated enough about a project, someone will complain they don’t know what’s going on. Communicate up to your supervisor about the project and communicate down to all the team members so they know what’s going on. You don’t need to write War and Peace every time you need to send a project email out; a short weekly follow up meeting where each team members speaks for 1-2 minutes and updates everyone on the project’s progress is fine, or consolidate weekly update emails into a bulleted digest email to share with team members. But do make sure that both the key stakeholders and the key approvers on the team are informed of the progress of the project.

Notice something missing from the list? Project planning software. While I’m not against great project planning or project management software, it’s not on my list because with even the best software in the world, people still need to manage projects, processes and other people. And that manager is you! If you’re a marketing manager, you will learn quickly that managing projects is mostly managing people and their divergent, creative, quirky personalities.

For more tips for marketing managers and business owners who handle marketing for their companies, listen to my free weekly podcast on Blog Talk Radio, Words That Work.  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter too.

This post is by Jeanne Grunert writing for Seven Oaks Consulting. Like this post? Contact us about our content marketing writing services, marketing consulting, and marketing training and seminars for business owners.