Nick Mitchell

August 10, 2022


What is the Role of a Marketing Project Manager?

The role of project managers in marketing agencies has been elevated in status in recent years. The reason for this is that the complexity of marketing campaigns has increased so dramatically. Whereas, once, a marketing campaign might involve developing a suite of print, online, video and audio ads, today it may cover all the above plus, just for example:

• Blog strategy

• Podcast production

• Downloadable materials, e.g., whitepapers and eBooks

• Social media assets, e.g., infographics and photography

• Unboxing videos

The list really does go on. As a result, the number of plates today’s project managers have to spin has grown exponentially.

Join JupiterSparks

How has project management changed over time?

In the past, many marketing agencies would have only employed a single project manager to handle all their clients’ projects.

Today, you’ll find that growing marketing agencies tend to assign different clients to multiple project managers so that each one is able to dedicate the right amount of time to delivering the ever-growing list of assets that form marketing campaigns.

Some marketing agencies will, rather than divide project managers’ workloads based on clients, allocate work based on a given project manager’s skill set.

If, say, the project is to deliver a multimedia campaign that covers both interruption marketing (advertising) and inbound marketing (content), a project manager who has experience in both fields may be best suited to leading the project.

If, however, the project is primarily focused on an inbound strategy, a project manager who cut their teeth on social media, blogging, podcasts, video and influencer marketing might be more appropriate. It all depends on the agency, the size of the project management team and the nature of client relationships.

Join JupiterSparks

What does a project manager do?

In today’s marketing agencies, project managers are the conduit between client services and content production or creative departments. They make sure that all deliverables account management agrees with the client are produced on time, on spec and on budget by the teams working on them.

The project manager will start by attending a project kick-off meeting with the agency strategists, where they’ll take notes on everything to be delivered. Then they’ll plan this information out into a project timeline that shows who’ll work on which aspects and when, as well as what assets or inputs the client may need to deliver in order for work to happen.

When project milestones have been communicated back to, and agreed by, the client, the project manager will call a meeting with the internal team to designate everyone’s roles on the project and communicate expectations. As the project is worked on, they’ll then send out automated deadline reminders as well as checking in manually with the production team to ensure everything is going to plan.

At each milestone, the project manager will check off a list of agreed deliverables and make sure they’ve all been met. If so, they’ll call a meeting to launch the next stage of the project. If not, they’ll rally the team to complete them in advance of the next sprint. A good project manager will build in a period of what’s known as “slack” into each sprint to allow for any gaps in either asset delivery by the client or lags in work at the agency end.

Once the project is complete, the project manager will do a final check to ensure all agreed deliverables have been met, working alongside the creative strategist who ensures they meet the required quality standards, and then deliver them back to account management who’ll handle delivery and “selling in” of them to the client.

Join JupiterSparks

How project managers stay organised

As the complexity of the project management role grows, thankfully so does the number of tools available to simplify processes and allow project managers to stay organised.

Today, there are multiple apps to fulfil different aspects of the project management process and, whilst they don’t exactly do the work for you, they help already highly methodical people to remain in control of their workload.

They include:

Gantt chart software—showing project milestones to manage stakeholder expectations, e.g., Instagantt, Smartsheet and Microsoft Project.

Resourcing software—showing the project manager who on the team is available to work on the project and when, and to organise available resources, e.g., Resource Guru, Microsoft Project and Float.

Collaboration software—digital hubs to allow project managers to communicate with team members, share files, assign workstreams and automate reminders, e.g., Slack, Google Chat and Microsoft Teams.

Digital asset management software—larger clients will tend to manage their own digital assets, but smaller clients rely on their agencies to store raw photohraphy, video, audio and other digital assets using DAM software, e.g., Filecamp, MarcomGather and Aprimo.

Digital automation software—allowing Project Managers to launch campaign assets on pre-programmed dates and times, e.g., Hubspot, ActiveCampaign and EngageBay.

Not all agencies will use all of them simply because their clients won’t need them to, but most agencies worth working for will employ a blend of them in their project management strategy.

Join JupiterSparks

How to become a better project manager

The competition for project management jobs is fierce as the role grows in both status and demand. It’s a rewarding position for people who get a kick out of organising other people and seeing disparate elements of a project come together to a successful finish. So, if you’re looking to develop your career in project management, it’s important you focus on a few key aspects of your work.

First of all, learn how to delegate effectively. Putting the right people on the job is paramount to making sure it’s done to the very highest standards.

Secondly, write down everything. Keep a notepad or audio recorder with you during every meeting and miss nothing. You’ll be the guardian of detail for the entire project team who’ll constantly turn to you for answers on assets, timelines, deadlines and the minutiae of client conversations.

Thirdly, learn how to use the tools that have been bestowed upon you. Great project management tools are only great if you’re using them properly and getting the most out of them. Also, learn how not to use them—Slack, for instance, isn’t a chat app for asking endless random questions—that’s how it becomes a cluttered, disorganised mess.

Finally, be a stickler for detail when assessing the delivery of agreed production components. If, for instance, a content writer delivers a series of blog posts, make sure the URLs are all there, the internal hyperlinks are all working, the agreed keywords have all been used, etc. You’ll become trusted by clients and colleagues alike when you spot everything and miss nothing.

Join JupiterSparks



* indicates required