How to Market Your Project

The best Project Managers I know have backgrounds in marketing. Wow, did I really just type this! Where did it come from? Usually on the projects I lead, the marketing team members are the ones who show up late for meetings, talk incessantly using jargon from the Harvard Business Review, complain that they don’t have time to complete their tasks, and shoot down ideas because they “won’t delight the customers.” So why do I think marketers make good project managers?

Well, first of all I have a lot of good friends who are in marketing that are smart, creative, organized, and reliable. These traits alone would make them good Project Managers. But, what separates them is they know how to market a project!

You see in my experience, projects need to be marketed. A project needs to be spun into a cohesive and interesting story that is communicated throughout an organization. The reasons for this:

  • Projects often bring “unknowns” and “fear” to an organization
  • You want to generate alignment and interest
  • Want to create excitement about the benefits of the initiative
  • The need to stop any ugly rumors or speculation about the project
  • To separate and differentiate your project from other initiatives.

So as a Project Manager there is value and a need to market a project. I would argue that marketing starts on Day 1. When I start a new project, my immediate thoughts are to find an interesting project name and to start thinking about how to position the potential benefits.

The PMBOK lumps marketing under the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area with the plan being built in the Plan Communications (10.2) Process Group.  I like to start my marketing plan earlier – way back when the Project Charter (4.1) is developed. The Plan Communications process ultimately defines the details (and how to go about executing the plan), but the “what” and “how” to market the project must be developed earlier.

As a project manager, here are a few ideas on how to market your project:

  • Give your project an interesting name to build recognition and awareness. 

  • Create a project logo and tag-line that will create interest, buzz, and awareness. 

  • Print banners or inexpensive promotion items (like engraved pens) with the project name or tag-line to help generate recognition and interest. 

  • Create a unique presentation template with your logo and branding, so that all projects presentations have a standard, coordinated, professional look and feel. 

  • Publish a monthly or quarterly project newsletter to your organization and focus on the customer needs the project will solve. 

  • Create a project blog using a WordPress Theme, that can be read by your organization. Team members can contribute content to the blog, or you can invite others in as guest bloggers. 

  • If you company has a corporate newsletter publish articles in it about your project that focus on the high level benefits and key deliverables. 

  • Do “road-shows” where you visit remote facilities to discuss the project, its benefits, and the key milestones. This helps to build awareness, interest and excitement about your project, outside the home office. 

It’s important that you don’t over-hype or over-promise the deliverables of your project, always be realistic. When presenting and meeting with others on behalf of your project, focus on the end results and the benefits to your organization. Remember to tell an interesting story that brings your project to life! Giving your project a personality allows people to relate and identify with it.

So the next time you come in contact with a hard-working marketing person (they usually work between 10am and 4pm, with a 1 hour lunch in between), remember their value to your project and thank them for their efforts.

In the end, what matters is that your project meets or exceeds its defined objectives. A well executed marketing plan builds alignment, interest and excitement that will help you reach your objectives and “delight your customers.”

What do you think?  Do you have other project marketing ideas or success stories?  Please share.

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About Dale Myers

A San Francisco Bay Area Project and Program Expert
This entry was posted in Project Management and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to How to Market Your Project

  1. Brian says:

    Very informative article

    • Yemi says:

      I really got an awakening from this article. A hidden treasured tool that must be pondered upon and use for any successful project destination. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Darlene Cuker says:

    So true. Espcially when budgets are tight, there is a tendency to marginalize projects that people don’t understand or that started off weak.

    • Dale Myers says:

      Thanks Darlene. Look, some projects are just too sensitive to market (ie. change management, acquisitions, etc..), but most others can benefit from some positive exposure. Some of the actons I suggested do not have to cost much or even take up a lot of valuable time. I often ask my marketing communications people to help come up with something (even if they are not on the project team). The point is that project managers can really help their own cause by using some basic marketing principles. Plus, the marketing stuff is kind of fun! Please take care. DM

  3. great article, thanks!! description of marketing folks made me laugh out loud!

    • Dale Myers says:

      Thank Karrie for reading. Full disclosure – my wife is in marketing and I spent some time there myself. I know these good folks can take a joke so I had funny playing to the marketing stereotypes. It was good fun for me. Thank you once again. DM

  4. Marian Woods says:

    Thanks for sharing, Great article. Really believe that the PM should “market” their project to get everyone on board and focused!

  5. Jorge Lucio Spinola says:

    CONGRATULATIONS ! Stay working.
    Thank’s for share.
    Best regards.
    Jorge Lucio Spinola

  6. mikeleenews says:

    Dale, very good tips on marketing. If you don’t mind, I’d like to suggest something additional. You alluded to it in your blog and I want to expand just a bit. Telling the story of your project is very important. Whether your project is a product, service, good cause, or new idea, people are more likely to invest emotionally or psychologically if they can understand it in the context of good storytelling. I have been telling network tv news stories for almost 40 years and I have always received the most positive comments about reports which featured a real life human drama. You can find more about this on my site. Good blog, Dale. Even great stories need marketing.
    Mike Lee

  7. I like your suggestions for marketing the project, it’s too easy to get bogged down in the other mechanics of getting the project organised and completed that you can forget that there are fun ways to make things happen too.

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