Content marketing really works! And there are multiple statistics to prove this. However, despite the obvious efficiency of this marketing method only 33% of marketers say that they are using it well and a mere 9% state very well.
Applying project management principles to your content marketing can help your business to get into that 9%. Project management can provide the clarity, organization, and structure that you need to ensure your strategy succeeds as a whole.
By definition, project management isn’t supposed to be a long-term measure. Therefore its rules and tools are designed for ‘by project’ use only. This means that you will need to apply them to different parts of your content marketing strategy, such as individual campaigns.
Analyze the situation based upon your business’ needs and goals so that you can determine how exactly to apply the available project management solutions to maximum effect.
Basic Project Management Principles and Their Application in Content Marketing
1. Always define the goals first
What do we need to achieve?
That’s the first question that you need to answer when developing anything, be it a project or a marketing strategy. Defining your goals is the most important step because if you set the wrong ones, you won’t even have a chance to succeed.
That’s why you need to set SMART goals, which are most commonly defined as:
When setting your goals, you might want to start big and take it from there. With regards to content marketing this means defining the main objective, such as generating leads, and then compiling a list of smaller objectives. These are the things you need to accomplish in order to attract new leads through your content, like launching a blog or increasing the number and versatility of your email newsletters.
2. Develop a clear project structure
To create a proper project structure you need to consider three essential factors:
As the list of your goals must be already completed, next you should define milestones. For this you’ll need to choose the KPI that you will use to measure the success of your content marketing campaign. Content Marketing Institute provides a good breakdown of these, but be sure to prioritize your goals when choosing the best way to measure your marketing performance.
Once you know what you want to achieve and the phases of the project needed to achieve it, think about how much time you’ll need. Project management usually runs on a strict timeline and this could potentially present a problem. For example, you may have to develop a program within thirty days in which case you can easily break those thirty days down into the necessary phases.
All the same, marketing does not work on precise time limits and as such your timeline will be approximate at best. That’s why you need to focus more on K Pis and keep an eye on the strategy’s overall performance. Take a look at reports once a month and adjust the strategy every 3-6 months based upon them.
Remember too that scheduling a project timeline must take into account not only the duration of different tasks but also their dependencies. Defining those will help you to develop a more detailed and efficient project structure.
3. Prepare your resources in advance
As you cannot simply stock up on content, applying this project management principle will require you to find appropriate content sources. Will you hire a content writer? Will you create content yourself? What about video content, which requires screenplays as well as a tech crew? What will you do if your primary content provider fails?
Start by answering these questions and then write down your own which will depend on what kind of content you need and how much of it. You need to have the ‘delivery routes’ well-established before you can start any marketing project. This will help you to prevent its immediate failure due to delays or lack of organization.
You also should remember that no-one is perfect, so deadlines can be broken. You need to have emergency protocols and contacts which will allow you to procure new content and thereby to stay on schedule with your own updates. Consistency is one of the key elements of content marketing success.
4. Establish lines of communication
One of the product manager’s duties is overseeing communication channels for the team. In relation to your content marketing strategy this means establishing those channels between yourself and content providers/marketers.
Luckily today you can use a variety of collaborative tools which will bring people from all over the world together. These are ideal for working with freelancers as you can easily add a new person to the project. You can also find solutions that will allow you not only to chat and exchange files but also to actually visualize your progress within the project. For instance Orangescrum allows you to create separate boards for every content project, and you can monitor their progress in real time.
Other helpful project management tools are Trello, Airtable, LiquidPlanner, and Asana. If you are interested in team communication-oriented tools, try GoToMeeting, Skype, Zoom, or Slack.
5. Risk assessment & project disturbances management
Every project has its own risks and you will need to evaluate them before launching your marketing strategy. Of course, when dealing with marketing the risks are different to what you might encounter when writing up a business plan. SmartInsights has an excellent article on the subject, which focuses on social media risk analysis. You will need to perform a similar assessment for every level of your marketing campaign.
You will also have to create contingency plans for dealing with any of the risky situations which might occur. The Internet is fast-paced, so you will need to be able to implement a counter to any problem immediately. You should consider these plans a part of the essential resources which a content marketing campaign needs.
6. Achieving project success
Achieving success is a part of the project life cycle, which makes it an important factor in project management. It is where your primary task is completed and where you can then start with the project iteration to achieve the next goal.
In content marketing it is necessary to outline precise parameters as to what you consider to be ‘success’. It will be a more relevant parameter for your strategic milestones as marketing is a process that has to be perpetually in progress.
Project Management for Content Marketing: Planning for Success
In essence, project management is a process of extensive planning and control of the plan’s implementation. Applying these principles to your content marketing strategy will help you to keep it organized and will therefore boost its overall efficiency.
You cannot afford to skip any steps when developing these plans. The more detailed they are the higher are your chances of success. You also need to plan for any eventuality so that no unforeseen circumstance can set back your campaign.