The success of your project depends not only on how well you as a project manager work with your team, but also on how stakeholders perceive it and how they support your project. Therefore, as a project manager you have to sell your project well so that it is known and perceived positively. Every project manager does project marketing, but often unconsciously and not systematically. In this article you will learn what is meant by project marketing and how to use it more consciously and successfully.
Do Good and Talk About It
“Do good and talk about it” is a motto in project marketing and you should take this into account in your project. Marketing means the promotional presentation of a product. The term is used in a similar way in project management. Here, project marketing is the advertising representation of the project and its results within the company, with the stakeholders and, if necessary, also in public.
With project marketing you try to establish the project visibly in the company and to influence the project environment positively so that it supports the project. You actively (and attractively) present or sell the idea, the goals, and the solutions of the project to the environment in order to influence the opinion of the stakeholders. As a project manager you must be able to promote your project, i.e. convince others of the idea and necessity and the benefits of your project.
If your project has a good image, this helps to “freeup” budget and resources from stakeholders and increases the acceptance among those affected by your project.
With project marketing you try to establish your projects visibly in the company and to influence the project environment positively, so that it supports the project.
Project Marketing Is a Part of Change Management
You cannot look at project marketing in isolation, because it is embedded in the Change Management Strategy of your project. The basis for successful project marketing is the data of your stakeholder management and the tools you need are information and communication management. When you define actions in stakeholder management, they often serve project marketing. The following figure shows you the overall context of Change Management.
The Most Important Goals of Project Marketing
In my opinion, project marketing the following two main objectives:
- To secure funding and resources for project execution.
- Make opponents of the project proponents (or at least neurals)
Stakeholders also perceive a well-known project as important. This applies especially to corporate management and line managers. The more attractive a project is or is presented, the easier it is to win employees over to it – especially if the project depends on the cooperation of much sought-after subject matter experts.
How Much Effort Should be Invested Into Project Marketing?
Project marketing makes sense in every project—the only question is how much effort is justified. The amount of effort you invest in project marketing depends on the strategic significance and importance of the project for your company, but also on the likely reaction of your key stakeholders to the project. Project marketing is particularly important for projects that deeply affect the company organization, affect many employees or for large, public-related projects. With such projects there are often many opponents, who make life difficult for your project. With intelligent and systematic project marketing, you can often greatly improve the acceptance of a project.
In many small projects, minimal project marketing is done in discussions on the fly, according to the motto: “Do good and talk about it”. You should not underestimate this project marketing either. Because periodic contact with stakeholders is important to feel their pulse, perceive their problems and opinions about the project—or simply to stay in touch and not be forgotten.
With intelligent and systematic project marketing you can often greatly improve the acceptance of the project.
Recently Windows 10 was introduced in our company and all 7000 employees received new, modern laptops. This large, complex and expensive project probably needed less and a different project marketing than the project that carried out a major reorganization of the headquarters and caused resistance and fears.
Activities for Successful Project Marketing
The following activities have proven themselves in practice in project marketing:
- Periodic meetings with the most important stakeholders: These make the project visible, inform, sell the benefits of the project and answer questions. You do this to get as much support as possible.
- Creating a project identity: A catchy and memorable project name is particularly beneficial for the perception and acceptance of a project within the supporting organisation. A graphical project logo is also a good tool to give the project an identity and recognizability. This should then be used for every document, such as presentations, announcements, flyers, newsletters, but also for the project portal and other infrastructure.
- Project culture and values: Not only a beautiful name and a dazzling log make up the identity of a project. Every person in the project represents the project to the outside world—be it positive or negative. To complete the positive internal and external perception of your project, you should therefore also take care of the project culture and the values that you and your project team members embody externally.
- Information events: This is how you keep affected parties, users, specialist departments and interested parties up to date on the latest project status. As project manager, you can present the project and its progress here and respond directly to questions from stakeholders.
- Project newsletter and project intranet site: These are important elements to present the project and keep stakeholders up to date.
- Media and public relations: This is very important for large projects with high public interest. This is especially true for projects of federal states and municipalities where tax money is used. Even large infrastructure projects such as railway stations, airports and highways often have many opponents. Project marketing should start here at an early stage and you should also plan sufficient budget for this.
Project Marketing Before the Project Starts
Project marketing often starts before the project actually starts. You might ask yourself why? As a former project portfolio manager, I have seen project sponsors promote their project idea during the annual project portfolio prioritization—especially to decision makers who could influence the prioritization. In addition to strategic contribution, profitability, risk and resource requirements, marketing thus also had a “certain” influence on whether a project was carried out or dies.
Project Marketing Must be Planned
As a project manager, you carry out many project marketing activities on the fly. You plan important meetings with stakeholders in your diary, including preparation time. In addition to general project communication, your communication plan will describe and roughly plan the most important marketing activities.
Larger marketing activities, such as info-sessions or public relations work, will be included in your project planning with the planned effort and resources. You should also include other marketing activities that involve “relevant” effort in project planning. This gives you a rough idea of what these costs are, when they are prepared or take place, and what resources you will need for them.
Stakeholder management is not only an important activity in “traditional projects”, but would also be so in agile projects. Unfortunately this is not an topic there, e.g. neither in Scrum nor in SAFe. For me this is not understandable. Has it simply been forgotten or do they think that they do it just on the fly?
As you have learned in this article, project marketing has a lot to do with stakeholders and their behavior. I recently wrote an interesting article about this: Stakeholders are one of your biggest project risks. You should also consider this aspect in your project marketing activities.
What experiences have you had with project marketing? Do you agree with my statements or do you have a different opinion or additions? Share your experience with the readers with a commentary so that we all get to know another view. Thank you!
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