What does the word “work” mean to you?
A dictionary would tell you that work is, “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result,” or maybe, “a task or tasks to be undertaken; something a person or thing has to do.”
But how do we know which tasks to tackle first? Or what specifically needs to happen in order to achieve our purpose?
That’s where project management comes in.
And for B2B marketing agencies or teams, there are a lot of nuances when it comes to project management. Launching several campaigns at once. Racing to meet tight deadlines. Ensuring important milestones are met and in the right order. These are not your typical projects. And the typical approach to project management just won’t cut it.
What are our secrets to project management for B2B marketers? I share our top project management tips that boost marketing productivity with you below.
Tip #1: Adopt Big-Picture Thinking
Project management can either be granular or broad. Small picture, or big picture.
With a granular approach, you’re at the front lines of work on a daily basis. You’re communicating with the team several times a day to ensure due dates are being met, roadblocks are cleared, and information is shared. However, this approach eats up a lot of time. Especially when you’re juggling several projects at once — a common occurrence for B2B marketing teams.
Looking at the big picture is a much more efficient approach. Instead of digging into the details and micro-managing every task or piece of work, this approach takes a step back and instead takes a look at your projects as a whole. You’re reviewing projects for common pain points like overlapping timelines, double-booked resources, and client approvals to see where you can proactively remove obstacles and schedule work.
With a big-picture approach to project management, you’ll spend less time reacting to team needs and more time proactively mitigating bumps in the road. It’s more planning and less managing.
“With a big-picture approach to project management, you’ll spend less time reacting to team needs and more time proactively mitigating bumps in the road. It’s more planning and less managing.” @annieleuman Click To Tweet
Tip #2: Implement the Right Tools
As a project manager myself, it seems as though the words “project management” and “software” are almost always mentioned in the same breath. They’re conjoined at the hip. And there’s a good reason for that.
Project management software has immeasurably helped organizations improve the way they work. Take Google Drive or Dropbox for instance. Every document your marketing team needs can be uploaded, shared, edited, and collaborated upon in a single, easy-to-access place. That is an incredible benefit to B2B marketing teams where you can work on anything from a calendar to a spreadsheet to an interactive asset at any given time.
Some of our favorite work-accelerating tools are:
- Google Drive: file sharing and collaboration.
- Dropbox: design file sharing and proofing.
- Slack*: quick communication that’s organized by project, subject, or team.
- Mavenlink: structuring projects, assigning tasks, and tracking efficiency.
- Zoom: hosting team and client meetings.
- LastPass: sharing access to important tools.
But before you go and install all of them, there’s an important consideration you need to make: process. Every tool needs its own set of processes to go with it telling your team when to use it, why you need it, and how to best utilize the tool. With processes in place, there is no confusion among your team as to where critical information lives. And speaking of processes…
Tip #3: Prioritize Process
Process is a love/hate relationship for many B2B marketing teams. Too much process, and creativity is stifled. Not enough process, and progress is halted.
Process is a balance.
Take a look at your own documented processes and ask yourself:
- Which processes are necessary to complete the work?
- Are there any processes that are no longer followed?
- How many processes do you have for the same task?
Based on your answers, you should consolidate your processes where able, kill and reimagine the processes that are already dead, and promote the processes that are essential to survival. Good project managers will create processes with ease, but only the great ones are able to remove and improve the processes that are more of a hindrance than a help.
Tip #4: Be Flexible
We live in a world of constant change. Recent events have highlighted this even more so. It’s the nature of life, and it is certainly the nature of marketing.
Adapting to change requires flexibility. Project management for B2B marketing needs to be able to handle an accelerated — or decelerated — timeline, a drop in resources, or a sudden, unexpected ask from a client. While project managers will do their best to try and predict the future with grade-A planning — it is impossible to do so with 100% accuracy.
How do we handle the constant change in B2B marketing? We prioritize one week at a time. By prioritizing one week — or even one day — at a time we’re able to be much more agile and fit in the urgent requests as they come in. If we prioritized further out, we would lose the ability to change course quickly. We also have a large, varied pool of resources to ensure nothing is siloed or breaks if someone needs to take unexpected time off or is over capacity.
Let’s Get Down to Business
To focus your B2B marketing team on the work that matters, project management needs to be a priority. But in our experience, the most effective project management follows the above guidelines. It’s flexible, rooted in process, sees the big picture, and is assisted by the right tools. That’s not to say that your B2B marketing team won’t need to be managed a little bit differently, but the above tips should get you started on the right path.
Want to further optimize how your team works? View these tips for managing content marketing teams.
* Disclosure: Slack is a TopRank Marketing client.