Published in “Project Times” website, February, 2012
Click here for original article.
As important as project teams, project tasks, and critical milestones are to project success, they do not compare to the importance of marketing. To succeed in today’s new normal business environment where sales are lackluster, cash is tight, resources are scarce and customer service expectations are high, project execution is no longer enough; instead, you must also be an expert at marketing your project to ensure it gains the right amount of attention and traction to accelerate project results!
The challenge is that project managers aren’t typically skilled marketers. We can block and tackle with the best of project leaders; however, when it comes to marketing and promotion, we pale in comparison. In my 20+ years of experience in working with project teams across a multitude of industries, geographies and project scopes, I’ve found a few simple marketing tactics to make a significant difference: 1) Communicate the value. 2) Use multimedia. 3) Word of mouth.
- Communicate the Value: Undoubtedly, the #1 key to success in marketing your project is to communicate the project’s value. How does it provide value to the company? Does it tie in with the company strategy? Will it free up cash flow? Improve service levels? Increase profitability? Have you updated your project team? Your boss? Your mentor? Any leaders who might be impacted by the project? I’ve found that there is no quicker way to ensure the speed of progress than to continually communicate the value to each person affected or impacted along the critical path – and preferably each person’s manager as well.
For example, in an ERP implementation, we had to rally the troops around the implementation of a piece of functionality. This critical path step would affect the shipping and receiving function in a way that would increase the workload temporarily. The only way we gained enough commitment to increase workload with an already short-staffed and overworked team was by not only communicating the project’s long term value to the logistics team members (and their contribution to it) but also by communicating the team’s impact to the project success to the manager responsible for the increased workload. The key was that the critical milestone was no longer a project team success; it was a combined logistics and project team success.
- Use Multimedia: Communicating the value once is not enough. However, even communicating it 10 times isn’t enough. In order to break through the barriers so that all related parties and company leaders understand the value of the project (and would be willing to support the project even when it becomes inconvenient), it is vital to communicate via multi-media. It’s much easier to ignore a simple conversation than it is to ignore multi-media.
There are countless ways to promote your project leveraging multi-media. First, utilize the company’s newsletter and promote your project – why will it add value, who is on the team, what accomplishments have been achieved, etc. If you do not have a newsletter, create one. I’ve yet to see a tasteful newsletter turned down by business leaders as it helps to rally the teams. And who wouldn’t like to read about their achievements in the news? Next, leverage the intranet. Create a section for the project. Utilize social media. How about a brown bag lunch session to talk about the project and ask for input?
- Word of mouth: I’ve found that there is nothing more powerful than the word of mouth. Simple yet extremely effective. Create a buzz about your project. Soon you’ll have folks asking how they can help the team!
How do we create a word of mouth? Start talking about the project. Ask the project team to talk about the project. If each person finds 1 or 2 target people to communicate with about the project and its value, it will spread quickly. Make sure to include at least a few executives and leaders. Ask each of these folks if they would share a highlight with their team or someone with a related interest in the project or its results. Ask them for feedback. There is nothing more powerful than referrals. Soon, your project will be in the limelight. Remember, make it interesting, show enthusiasm and appreciate their ideas and feedback. The rest will follow.
The power of marketing is immense. Do you think it will be easier and quicker to ensure project success if just the project team is committed or if you’ve involved and engaged not only the project team but their key influencers and colleagues?