Marketing Guide

The Role of a Marketing Project Manager

What Is a Marketing Project Manager?

A marketing project manager is a project manager who oversees projects related to marketing campaigns. Marketing project managers supervise both the people working on marketing projects and the projects themselves. 

Marketing project managers might oversee the launch of a product from start to finish, or manage a product kickoff event. While many marketers have roles and responsibilities related to products, events, and advertising, a marketing project manager is typically in charge of overseeing a sizable project or campaign with a specified beginning and end.

A growing field, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts marketing management roles will grow faster than average, at a rate of 6% over the next decade. Moreover, the Project Management Institute (PMI) reports that there will be an increased need for project managers globally in the coming years, explaining that “across the globe, there’s a widening gap between employers’ need for skilled project management workers and the availability of professionals to fill those roles.” Based on that outlook, it might be the right time for you to jump into the field of marketing project management. 

Marketing project managers may work within larger organizations, or they can be brought in as contractors to manage one-off projects. Marketing project managers often employ standard project management techniques that can be used in other industries, but they must also have specific and intimate knowledge of marketing practices, tools, and channels.

What does a marketing project manager do?

A marketing project manager oversees and leads a project from the initial brainstorming and research phase, straight through implementation or production, and on to debriefing and reporting. The marketing director and chief marketing officer will steer the overall vision for the marketing department, and the marketing project manager will carry out that vision on a granular level. Marketing project managers will therefore manage the team of marketers, vendors, and support staff involved in the project. 

From determining the scope of a project to overseeing market research on the target customers, marketing project managers typically begin their work early on in the project life cycle. As the project’s foundation is established, they will assign tasks, set deadlines for team members, and determine the project’s budget and resource allocation requirements — all while making adjustments over the course of the project’s duration. 

Marketing project managers also manage communication with stakeholders, both internally and externally, ensuring their team has the information and buy-in needed to get the project across the finish line. 

What types of projects do marketing project managers oversee?

Marketing project managers oversee a wide range of possible projects, but what types of projects do they typically work on and oversee? Here’s a selection of potential activities and projects marketing project managers might undertake: 

  • Working alongside the marketing director to create the company’s marketing strategy
  • Creating a content calendar for the company’s blog and social media accounts
  • Managing the production of television or YouTube commercials
  • Building and maintaining external vendor relationships
  • Creating project timelines and budgets 
  • Liaising with graphic designers to create print and digital advertisements
  • Commissioning freelancers to create blog or eBook content

What are the different types of marketing project manager?

Marketing project managers work in a variety of different roles and industries. Their job scope can range from assisting external clients in a marketing agency to planning media campaigns within a corporate setting. Here are a few types of marketing project manager roles. 

Project manager in a marketing agency
A project manager in a marketing agency is in charge of making sure deliverables make it to the clients on time and within budget. That may involve shepherding any number of client projects through to completion, from a website redesign to a social media campaign. 

A project manager in a marketing agency will work with external clients, internal team members, freelancers, and vendors. Typical tasks for a project manager in a marketing agency will include meeting with clients, setting deadlines and assigning tasks, preparing the project budget, and clearing roadblocks. 

In-house marketing project manager
An in-house marketing project manager works for a company or group of companies to manage and coordinate projects that advance specific marketing strategies and goals. 

In-house marketing project managers liaise with internal creative and communications departments, as well as external vendors and freelancers. Depending on their area of focus, they can be tasked with stewarding any type of marketing project, from a product launch to a targeted email marketing campaign. 

Marketing program manager
A marketing program manager oversees a group of marketing projects simultaneously and tracks the success of that selection of projects against company goals like sales growth or customer retention. While the project managers work on specific tasks to drive their projects forward, the marketing program manager will use analytics and reported data regarding each campaign to ensure the marketing projects are helping the company reach its broader targets and objectives.

International marketing project manager
An international marketing project manager designs, plans, and coordinates marketing campaigns and projects abroad. They must be able to ascertain which international markets present the largest opportunity for profit, and they must design culturally appropriate campaigns. International marketing project managers often work directly with marketing teams in other countries and oversee vendors and freelancers in various locales. 

Digital marketing project manager
A digital marketing project manager plans and oversees digital projects and campaigns designed to drive traffic to the company or product website and generate leads. They may commission eBooks, plan video campaigns, manage social media channels, and optimize the company website content by liaising with the creative, copywriting, and graphic design teams.

Further reading
blog post

What It Means to Be a Digital Project Manager

blog post

How To Manage Marketing Projects Effectively

What skills are important for a marketing project manager?

Communications and organizational skills are high on the list of skills most managers need to succeed in their roles. However, marketing project managers also need to have a host of other important skills in order to excel. 

  • Soft skills: Marketing project managers must have the following soft skills.
     
  • Leadership: For a marketing project manager to succeed, they need to be able to lead their team members, encouraging and directing them, as well as anticipating their strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Communication: Communicating with team members, executive leadership, external stakeholders, vendors, and freelancers is an important skill for marketing project managers to master. 

  • Analytical: Because a marketing project manager has a role in planning a variety of campaign types, they need to be able to leverage marketing analytics and prioritize resources to maximize the outcome for their company or client. 

  • Marketing: While project manager roles utilize many of the same philosophies and concepts, a marketing project manager will need a specific expertise in marketing itself to be able to manage a website redesign, plan a viral social media campaign, or launch a product.

  • Decision-making: Many projects involve at least some high-pressure situations, and marketing project managers will be called upon to make informed decisions on a tight timeline. 

  • Technical skills: In addition to the soft skills mentioned above, marketing project managers should also have the following hard skills.

  • Resource allocation: Marketing resource management, the allocation of both human and budgetary resources, is critical to being a successful marketing project manager. This skill will allow for added agility and flexibility as obstacles or bottlenecks arise. 

  • Proficiency with project management tools: A host of project management software options, including Wrike, can help marketing project managers set deadlines, track resources, and ensure team member accountability. 

  • Ability to set deadlines: Deadline forecasting and management is an important skill for any marketing project manager to master, as they will often be in charge of many deadlines across several projects simultaneously.

  • Task management: Each marketing project will consist of tens or hundreds of specific tasks. The marketing project manager will need to manage and delegate these tasks effectively to ensure deadlines are met. 

  • Timeline planning: Planning the timeline of each project is a critical skill that a marketing project manager needs to hone, especially when they are forecasting multiple complex projects with time- and resource-dependent deadlines.

Do marketing project managers require specific qualifications?

Most companies or agencies hiring for the role of marketing project manager will require a successful candidate to have earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communication, business, or management. Coursework in marketing is often considered essential, and experience with online platforms, website content management systems, and other marketing tools is important as well. 

What experience is needed to become a marketing project manager?

Depending on the specific role, a potential marketing project manager will need relevant professional experience and must be able to demonstrate competencies across a number of areas. Most companies and agencies will require between two and five years of marketing manager experience when considering a candidate. Employers will look highly at candidates who have worked their way up from entry-level marketing roles, which will give candidates an understanding of general marketing tasks and requirements.

What tools do marketing project managers use?

Because a marketing project manager’s role involves overseeing many moving parts, as well as allocating resources, sticking to a budget, and meeting deadlines, project management software can be invaluable to their management success. 

A marketing project manager will ideally use project management software that can streamline marketing activities like organizing events, publishing content, and team collaboration. 

Marketing project management software like Wrike for Marketers enables 360-degree project visibility and allows marketers to quickly drill down on key details at a glance.

Further reading
blog post

How To Track your Digital Channels with Digital Marketing KPIs

blog post

Why You Need a Marketing Plan Template