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Project Management & Prioritisation

Get clarity on which projects you should work on as a marketer. Get clarity on the most important projects and what you should work on.

The first step in getting more done as a marketer, is to decide what the most important work is. If 80% of the marketing budget is spent on Google Ads, it’s logical to spend most of your time optimising the campaigns - if there is room for growth.

What I’ve seen happen often is that marketing teams simply stop executing on a well-performing marketing channel over time to chase a new campaign or marketing channels. This is the down-side of ‘growth marketing’. There is always a shiner object to chase.

  • If you are a marketing specialist, it’s probably clear what projects you should work on
  • As an email marketer, you work on email automation or newsletters. The decision to be made is how much time you spend on activating new leads vs retaining existing customers
  • As a Google Ads specialist, you work on optimising campaigns, changing keywords and writing ads
  • As a growth marketer, this is more challenging. With a variety of funnel steps, customer journeys and channels to work on, this exercise will help you to make decisions on what to work on

Which projects are important work to you?

Create a list of work that is important to you(or your job). The list should include the core of the job you were hired for or link to the most important Rocks/Goals for the quarter/year. Projects can differ in size, so when in doubt add the smaller projects as well.

Try and stay close to the core of your work. Most smaller recurring tasks are projects on their own. So write down these tasks/projects as well. Try to batch smaller tasks into a ‘project’ that makes sense to you. Examples are: reporting, analyses, weekly audit, etc.

If you’re unclear if something is a project or a task, don’t worry about it. In the next chapter, we’ll also create a list of all the tasks you’re working on.

If you add tasks instead of projects, don’t worry about it. We’ll create a full list of all the tasks you’re working on in the next chapter.

Write down projects on 3 time scales

  • Weekly - weekly commitments
  • Monthly - monthly goals
  • Quarterly - larger project

Below are 2 examples to help you get started.

Example: email marketeer

  • Brainstorm on new campaigns
  • General marketing team meetings (daily standup / weekly planning / monthly recap)
  • Create email campaign calendar & brainstorm ideas
  • Write newsletter copy
  • Design emails
  • Clean email lists
  • Build automated email flows
  • Optimise automated email flows
  • Change summer campaign for winter campaign

Example: Conversion Optimisation Specialist

  • Conduct qualitative research
  • Conduct quantitative research
  • Weekly analysis + reporting
  • Write hypothesis for experiments
  • Sprint planning for experiments
  • Design experiments
  • Create briefing for developer to build experiment
  • Quality assurance of experiments
  • Analyse experiment + share results with team

The list should contain projects you are working on and recurring projects/tasks. In the next step, you’ll split them into 2 categories: one-off projects and recurring projects. Feel free to do that already.

What are important projects to you?

Create a list of the projects you're working on, both recurring and one-off projects:

  • What job are you hired for?
  • When do you unblock colleagues?
  • What are the tasks that only you can do?
  • Which things do you have to delegate when you go on holiday?
  • Which priorities have been set in the team?

Not sure if it's a task or a project? In that case, it's a project.

What is important to you?

  • What job are you hired for?
  • What is part of your OKRs?
  • Which recurring tasks or projects are essential to your job?
  • Which things do you have to delegate when you go on holiday?

What is important to the team?

  • What is the team outcome / goal?
  • What priorities have been set for the team?

What work prevents errors from happening?

  • How do you optimise or tweak channels, campaigns, marketing assets?
  • What do you do to check if everything is working?

What are long term projects you should be working on?

  • What are more abstract tasks that make your work easier?
  • What are your learning & development goals?
  • What are (long-term) projects you’ve postponed lately?

Examples of most important projects

Example: Rick works as a generalist manager for a scale-up

Rick has worked as an SEO specialist before and worked his way up to a role as a more general marketeer for a scale-up.

Manages the paid ads agency

  • Collaborates with the brand manager for PR and copywriting projects
  • Analysing & improving SEO traffic 
  • Working on that new project to launch in a neighbouring country

Now, let’s say we’ve established that SEO traffic is declining and is important to keep our edge over the competition.

Rick’s boss directs him to spend more time on SEO. That doesn’t mean that Rick needs to work over hours (I hope). It means Rick needs to rebalance his workload and say ‘no’ more often.

Example 2: Alexine works as a junior paid performance ads specialist at an agency

Alexine is working on 2 clients and she is working on:

  • Run experiments on Marktplaats
  • Optimise Google Shopping
  • Update the product feed with a feed management tool
  • Build dynamic ads
  • Scale ad budget with seasonality
  • Launch in a new country

Example 3: Guy works as an affiliate marketer

Guy wants to grow the number of affiliates and increase the performance of the affiliate program. Guy is working on:

  • Reach out to new affiliates
  • Maintain relationships with existing affiliates
  • Analyse performance for top 10 affiliates
  • Create suggestions to increase performance of top 25 affiliates

Split recurring projects and one-off projects in two lists

The first step is to split the list into two categories: recurring and one-off projects.

Once you’ve done this, rank the 2 lists separately based on importance.

Start with the recurring projects and create a split between important projects and less important projects. Do the same for one-off projects.

You probably saw this coming: cut the list of projects that are less important. Start with recurring projects, as this saves you time every week/month.

This matrix differs from the Eisenhower Matrix, because recurring tasks are usually not urgent and tend to fall off a to-do list first. We’re aiming for impact on our goals or outcomes, so urgency is less relevant in this scenario. Or to put it in different words: the urgent things usually are a distraction from the most important work. So the emphasis is on the importance of projects.

Conclusion

It’s really hard to say no. Deciding what projects to work on is one of the hardest things to do. But if you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and really make an impact, you should do ‘less, but better’.

Slashing a few projects from your wish list means saving hours and hours of underlying tasks that you simply decide not to do. With a shorter Project List, the next step is to dive into the projects and get clarity on them.

Ewoud Uphof

I hope you enjoy reading this free chapter.

Read the full guide by clicking here.

Project Scope Management

For each of the projects, define the outcome and deliverables, the actions needed to create the deliverables, and timeline. 

Start with recurring project 1, then 2, etc. Then do the same for the one-off project. Start with one-off project 1, then 2, etc.

Answer these questions for each project to get a clear picture of the project. I’ll share the list of questions with you and then go over each question one-by-one.

  • What is the outcome or definition of done for the project?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • What are the actions to complete the deliverable?
  • How much time is needed to complete the deliverables or project?
  • When is the deadline?

What is the outcome or definition of done?

The sky is usually the limit for marketing projects. That makes the scope of our work murky. It’s hard to define how much is enough. Back in school, life was simple. Any score above 5.5 would mean you’ve passed. Anything below 5.5, means you failed the test.

Let’s make your job as a marketeer simple again. You need to clarify the expectations of the client or your manager.

What is the outcome we’re trying to achieve? If you’re not sure, simply ask them. Are we talking about an incremental 10% traffic growth or 100.000 new sessions for the launch in 6 weeks?

If you’re scared to do so. It’s in everyone’s best interest to ask. “Just to clarify: what are we trying to achieve?”

The company will benefit from the requested clarity. And if that’s not enough, you can always do it for yourself. Chances of keeping the job or getting a promotion are much higher if the hard work you’re putting in actually makes an impact on the shared marketing goals.

The outcome usually is the end state you’re trying to achieve, i.e. the new website is live.

What are the deliverables?

The deliverables are the assets or parts to achieve the outcome, i.e. new website design, updated back-end CMS, new SEO page structure, added 15 landing pages.

Each of the deliverables is a project in itself. Let’s zoom in on one of the deliverables from this large project. ‘New website design’ can be split up into different steps/actions. These intermittent steps are also called milestones.

New website design:

  1. Create wireframes
  2. Approve wireframes
  3. Create design
  4. Approved design by marketing team
  5. Turn design into front-end & CMS code
  6. Implement code
  7. Test code on desktop / mobile
  8. Approved by design
  9. Approved by marketing
  10. Approved my IT
  11. Approved by management

What are the actions to complete the deliverable?

The steps can usually be split up into even smaller parts. These steps are isolated actions you can do within an (1) hour. Let’s look at the example again:

To create wireframes for the new website, these could be steps to take:

  • Do research into wireframes for similar websites
  • Search the internet for wireframes best practices
  • Create a list of all pages that need to be wireframes
  • Create first version of wireframe for category page
  • Discuss with marketing team
  • Implement feedback on category page (create second version)
  • Create first version of product page

Write down all steps you need to take - be as precise as possible. Add the time after each task. Remember: a task is something you can do within 1 hour that doesn’t need another task.

How much time is needed to complete the deliverables or project?

For each of the tasks, write down how long you think it will take. You will probably get it wrong and that’s OK. People are terrible at estimating how long a task will take. But if you don’t write down how long the task will take, it will take longer.

Add the time for each of the tasks and add this to the to-do list.

Total time estimated: 7 hours and 30 minutes

When is the deadline?

A deadline can be set on 3 levels: the project, the deliverable and the task.

Let’s go back to our example. If the designer doesn’t create the category page in time, the deliverable will not be in time. That puts pressure on the project.

To be more flexible and to contribute to a project in a better way, consider asking the deadline for a level higher, i.e. if you’re working on a task, ask for the deliverable deadline.

Calculate how much time all important projects will take

Once you’ve estimated the time for all tasks of the important projects, it’s time to calibrate and zoom out.

Add up the time for all tasks and see how many hours of work this is. How many weeks of work did you say yes to?

As I’ve mentioned before, the estimations will probably be wrong, so you need to calculate unexpected extra time.

Assess the cumulative time needed for all projects

You will probably have scheduled too many projects. Most marketeers I know are ambitious and full of energy, so they want to get more done. The problem is, you’re spreading yourself too thin. It’s better to focus on one project and do it right, than to do 3 projects at 40%.

With less projects, you have more time for unexpected requests, problems to be solved, an extra feedback round or anything else work will throw at you.

Do less, but better. Here’s what that looks like in the timeline.

Sort the projects in order of importance

For Project List should be prioritised in this order:

  1. Important Recurring Projects
  2. Important One-Off Projects
  3. Less Important Recurring Projects
  4. Less Important One-Off Projects

In the next chapter, we’ll use this list to fill the Master List.

Bonus: Create a not-doing list

Once you’ve made the hard decision on which projects to work on, everything else will become easier. Less busy days, more room for error and more capacity to be creative and help team members out.

To remind yourself (or your team), you can create a not to-do list. Add all the projects that you are NOT working on in the coming time frame. This helps you visualise the decisions made and helps create clarity in the team.

Make sure you cut enough projects to have a reasonable workload. You can work on the project, just not right now. Once the #1 project is completed, you can come back to the list and reprioritise.

Conclusion on project scope management

The goal is to create a clear overview of the scope of each individual project and to see them in relation to each other. Getting clarity on the project properties means you have a better understanding of the time it takes to complete the project. Based on that information, you prioritise the projects again to make sure your workload is not too high.

Ewoud Uphof

I hope you enjoy reading this free chapter.

Read the full guide by clicking here.

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