Why You May Need a Marketing Project Manager and Where to Find One

Last week I was chatting with a colleague of mine. She was expressing her irritation over a marketing project that caused her a lot of frustration.

“My project manager was great at all the project management stuff. But when things went off the rails, all he could do was tell me that we were over deadline on a number of tasks.”

She continued, “the problem was he couldn’t help get the team get back on track because he didn’t have any background in marketing. He really only had a very limited understanding of the nuts and bolts of what the team did.”

Her story is not uncommon, unfortunately.

She went on to say “What I really needed was someone who had the marketing experience and the project management experience and then – wanted to focus more on the managing of the whole project rather than a specific marketing area.” With a deep sigh she continued, “Are such people out there?”

Yes, they are and here’s how to find them.

Marketing project managers are somewhat of a rare hybrid. Be on the look out for the following three things, and your next marketing project may be running smoother than you ever thought possible.

Three things to look for when hiring a marketing project manager

1. Broad marketing experience
You want to be sure your marketing project manager has marketing experience. And, the broader, the better. Experience in different industries can teach different things. With this background they’ll be able to pull in ideas new to you, yet proven in other industries and be able to explain how they could work well on your project. Deep skill and focus in one are of marketing sure can be valuable, but when you get into a jam and the marketer with the deep experience can only suggest ideas about one area… you’re going to wish you had someone who has broader knowledge.
2. Project management skills
It does take skill to run a project, so ensure your next hire has some project management training. Keep in mind that the project management discipline came from the military and aerospace industries. These are industries where people’s lives and billions of dollars may be at stake at each stage in the project. As much as we may love the discipline of marketing, our risks are much less dramatic. A PMP designation is not absolutely necessary for the marketing industry. However, whether you’re running an agile shop or scrum or other type of methodology, your project manager needs to have some understanding and experience of it.


3. Great communicator and love of all personalities
The most important work of a marketing project manager is the relationships and communication between their team, their client and their boss. The person with these well-developed skills isn’t always going to be the loudest or the most outgoing person in the room.  You’re going to want to look for someone who can lead a variety of different people (ages, skills, personalities, cultures) and has the ability to talk shop with each one-on-one on a personal and professional basis. Look for people who can energize extroverts, draw out the introverts, stand up to the bullies and present well to the client. You need someone who truly values all types of personalities and skills, and understands where they fit into the team, and then can help them bring their best work to the project.

What’s been your experience with marketing project managers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

[A version of this post was published on the Smartt blog]

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