Have you considered the hidden costs of managing your marketing programs internally? If not, now is an excellent time to take a step back and consider how your programs are being managed. Whether an evaluation is done by your team or an outside agency, a program review can help you revise any outdated practices and proactively avoid some common pitfalls.
As illustrated by the survey findings from Gartner (see below), a myriad of factors can lead to project failures. Therefore many large organizations rely on dedicated project managers to manage programs of various sizes and industries. Marketing teams that lack the resource internally, should consider getting assistance from an outside agency. Doing so may have some far-reaching benefits and outweigh the frequently false assumption of their high costs. Working with an external vendor can help your programs stay fresh, keep you and your team up to date with the latest marketing trends and give you insights into other methods different organizations have had success using.
Gartner, Survey Shows Why Projects Fail,1
That said, marketers should also understand that there is no ‘right way’ to manage a marketing program. Things like the size of your team, the size of your budget, and the project scope are all important considerations that drive the appropriate management approach. However, based on the decades-long experience of working and hearing from different marketing teams in multiple industries, we’ve noted several recurring don’ts that almost always mean a change is needed when it comes to managing your marketing programs.
Below is a list of the top 3 managing “don’ts” to avoid, followed by alternative “do” considerations when planning and managing your marketing program.
Holding onto ways of approaching work the same way for consecutive years prevents you from finding new ways of doing the same thing. It holds true from both a marketing strategy and a marketing operations perspective. Even if the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a great rule to live by, marketers should understand that the world of marketing is constantly changing and be ready adapt because any new concept, practice, or innovation can potentially have a swift and profound impact on day-to-day marketing activities.
When it comes to project management, most organizations put their practices before their people. They place more emphasis on rational factors — the process itself — and less on emotional drivers that could lead to project excellence — like their employees’ engagement with the project and company.
The Gallup Business Journal pointed out a fascinating insight into the lack of attention given to employee engagement, which are crucial drivers to project excellence. Therefore to help foster an engaged team, it’s essential that leaders maintain a team environment that encourages a steady flow of ideas, opinions, constructive criticism, and honest feedback. This is also where an agency can help bring a range of expertise to the table. Through years of experience working with many different organizations, an outside partner can help you build a case to challenge institutional beliefs around best practices both in marketing tactics and business operations.
Whenever you are viewing a list of all the projects to complete, make sure the last item of business is to set a priority order for getting them done.
Top marketers set goals. Goal-setting marketers are 376% more likely to report success. 70% of the most organized marketers achieve their goals Most of the Time, while an elite 10% of organized marketers Always achieve them.
Many research findings, including the one above calls out the value in setting goals and priorities when program planning and sticking to them during program management. Setting priorities and periodically tracking how you’re performing against them helps ensure that projects get done on time and in the correct order of importance. The priority order itself may depend on your overall marketing goals and how they fit within the organization’s more extensive needs, budget, and timeline allocated for all the various programs and projects they oversee
Simply put, program decisions, KPIs, and approvals should not be considered final until there is stakeholder alignment.
Poor stakeholder-project manager alignment is a big cause of project failure. Only 55% of people involved in projects – team leaders and project managers – feel that the project’s business objectives are clear to them. And when the project is wrapped up, only 23% of respondents say that project managers and stakeholders are in agreement when a project is done
Making sure that stakeholders understand the value of the program and getting their buy-in not only ensures a better program outcome, doing so helps improve your team’s visibility and the likelihood of approvals for future program proposal. Since outside vendors do not like to move forward with client work until all comments are consolidated into a single point of view, they can be particularly helpful in being the driver that prompts quicker resolutions to disagreements and other barriers to consensus.
An often-overlooked benefit versus cost comparison to working with an agency partner is the flexibility and range of services a good partner can provide. A partner relationship can be built to serve as an extension of your marketing team to fill internal team gaps, and be counted on in times of unexpected needs. For example, it’s not uncommon for us to step in and offer a bridge of support whenever a client faces unanticipated team changes or shortages within their organization.
In summary, whether marketing program managers opt to keep it in-house or to work with an outside agency, making sure you avoid the three don’ts above will help you better identify new opportunities for improvement, keep you informed on the latest trends, and help you to prioritize on goals and stakeholder alignment.
As an Account Director at Data Axle, Bob is responsible for owning and cultivating strong relationships. He spends his days helping his clients plan, build and maintain customer experiences. He also collaborates with various teams to foster program growth and strategic thought leadership, overseeing day-to-day processes, issue remediation and resolution as well as program management. He plays an advisory role for his clients and borrows from his many years of experience in digital marketing. Bob spends his nights, and money, traveling whenever possible. He also enjoys consuming as much pop culture as time allows by listening to music, watching TV & movies, going to galleries and attending live performances.