Becoming a marketing project manager – what do you need to succeed

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

Even if you don’t have any project management qualifications, sooner or later if you are a marketer you may need to work as a marketing project manager and hone those all important PM skills. This might be because you get a promotion that takes you into a role where more leadership is required and need to manage projects rather than execute them. You may also find yourself leading an initiative where project management skills will stand you in good stead.

So whatever situation you find yourself in, here are some tips to help you succeed as a marketing project manager.

What does being a marketing project manager involve?

There are a few things that a marketing project manager does:

  • They are tasked with guiding projects from beginning to end, they will determine scope, assign tasks, set deadlines, and generally be involved with every part of the execution of a project
  • They ensure people have everything they need to get their job done, and when they don’t have everything, they sort it out for them.
  • They help with communications between stakeholders – it is important to make sure that everyone has the information that they need and that everyone has the means to communicate with each other.

What skills do you need?

Managing a project is not as easy as you might think and there are some skills that you really do need if you are going to hold your own as a marketing project manager.

You will probably want to do what you can to plug any gaps that exist in your skillset, whether this is through further courses or even reading up on the subject. The skills can be broken down into two distinct groups:

The soft skills – Interpersonal communication, time management, negotiation and conflict management, subject matter expertise and leadership.

The technical skills – Task management, time planning, resource allocation, ability to set deadlines and the ability to use project management tools.

It is also worth remembering what is possibly the most important skill that a project manager has and that is great communication skills; the ability to talk to a range of different people and also to listen properly to what they have to say.

Of course, these skills alone are not enough to help anyone succeed in the field of project management, although obviously having these skills will certainly help. Whether you are new to project management or have moved from one side of the role to another experience will go a long way towards helping to create a project manager who is confident in their role and does it well.

The relevant qualifications provide a very good starting point and can often be studied by someone moving into the position who is studying whilst working in the role. It is important, as with so many other roles, for a good project manager to ensure that they keep abreast of new methods and ideas within the field – this is one of those roles where you never really stop learning.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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