It’s no secret that a team of talented creatives can only be as effective as their leader.
As a marketing project manager, you’re responsible not only for your performance but that of your entire team. This added responsibility demands that you go above and beyond to develop your character, your mindset and your skills.
We created this guide to help you on your journey to mastery. In it, you’ll find a range of soft and hard skills that you’ll need to practice. As well as online resources, books and courses you can use to do so.
If you have time to work on only one skill from this list, choose communication. It’s by far the most important skill for any project manager to master – and marketing is no exception. Even if you have all the talent and resources in the world, your project’s success will be decided by your ability to transfer ideas from your brain into others’.
In short, your storytelling and presentation skills are the very reason you’re in a leadership position – so don’t forget to hone them. For all the visual learners out there, this cool video lays out how you can create the perfect pitch.
2. Problem Solving
Coming in at a close second is problem-solving skills. Every day, you are faced with challenges in a range of areas, from budgeting to analyzing data. It’s crucial that you are able to think on your feet and create strategies to overcome obstacles.
These challenges won’t always be technical – they can come in human form, too. It’s common in the creative industry for team members to clash and disagree with one another. You’ll need to get good at resolving these issues quickly because they can slow the entire project down.
Good news is, Coursera offers some great training on the topic.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re negotiating budgets, timeframes, responsibilities or your own salary. If you can’t negotiate your way out of a wet paper bag, you’re going to have a hard time.
It should be your goal to develop a keen understanding of how your internal team, contractors, suppliers and employers tick.
If you can put yourself in their shoes and get to know their dreams, desires and frustrations, you’ll have a massive advantage. While researching this, we found an impressive interview with Chris Voss, a hostage negotiator, that covers how to do just that.
If you study the greatest leaders, you find that they are masterful at dreaming up visionary ideas and inspiring people to help achieve them. If you can learn from these greats and create a culture of inspiration and motivation, you’ll have no trouble leading a marketing team to success.
One of our favorite experts in the field of leadership is Simon Sinek. He breaks down the principles of leadership in his famous TED Talk, Start With Why.
A visionary idea by itself is not enough to change the world. You need to break it down into small steps so that you or your team can act on them day to day. A good way to do so is to host a brainstorming session with your team and work together to decide what needs to be done and who should handle each task. Then document a clear plan of attack.
Remember that not all plans are created equal, and a bad one can cause you trouble. You’ll certainly want to be aware of the inefficiencies in popular methods such as starting-from-scratch or work-driven planning. There’s a great article called 4 Bad Planning Habits To Kick This Year that goes into more detail.
As you know, marketing is a constantly evolving field. If your projects and the way you handle them are not constantly changing, you’re probably doing something wrong.
There’s only one way to succeed as a project manager, and that is to stay flexible and open-minded.
Think of all your projects as if you’re a mad scientist – always testing and always learning. You have to be willing to fail to find out what works, especially in business. Scott Berkun, Microsoft’s former project manager, wrote a brilliant section on this in his bestselling book.
What happened to the project manager who tried to handle it all alone? They exploded.
Bad jokes aside, it’s impossible to do it all yourself. If you want to complete a complex project on time, you’ll need to call for backup. The best project managers know this, so they surround themselves with talent they can call upon when needed.
If you ever find yourself swamped in easy but time-consuming tasks, have another employee manage them for you so you can focus on more important objectives such as campaign goals or performance. If nobody on your team can handle it, you can find someone to get the job done on Upwork or Freelancer.
8. Marketing Expertise
Up until now, most of the skills we covered were “soft” – communication, leadership, etc. However, if you want to be the best marketing project manager you can be, you need to become a marketing genius. This means setting aside time each week for continued education, whether your employers provide it or not.
If they don’t, you’ll find plenty of learning material on sites like Udemy or Coursera. If you’re looking for top-of-the-range training, you should consider a recognized industry expert such as DigitalMarketer. It’ll be more expensive, but you get what you pay for.
9. Technical Expertise
Last but not least, possessing technical know-how is becoming increasingly necessary as a marketing project manager.
Sure, you don’t have to know how to code because you’ll likely have someone to do that for you. But you’d still benefit from picking up a little HTML and CSS and knowing your way around a CMS like WordPress.
Don’t worry, if you lack these skills, there are plenty of ways to learn. With sites like CodeAcademy, you can learn the basics with just a couple hours of study each week.
One Last Thing …
Thanks for reading our guide. We hope you enjoyed it and are feeling inspired to become a world-class marketing project manager. As you know, the more you put into your career, the more you get out of it, so always be learning.
But before you go, we’ve got one last resource for you.