Nathan Ellering knows a thing or two about marketing project management. As demand-generation lead at editorial calendar company CoSchedule, he's constantly brainstorming ways to make marketers' lives easier, and each idea the company pursues becomes a new project.
I invited Nathan to Marketing Smarts to discuss his secrets for managing marketing projects from start to finish.
Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Nathan:
Focus on 10X projects, not 10% projects (02:50): "A framework that we use all the time at CoSchedule is 10X versus 10%.... The 10X projects mean really focusing 100% of your resources on those projects that are repeatable, measurable, that are significantly good for growth. The 10% are those minutiae, those things that just suck productivity away from things that you could be doing that would be higher-growth items. That framework drives the sorts of projects that we choose or that we prioritize....
(06:23) "A really good idea for a 10X project could be a tool. Like CoSchedule has...the Headline Analyzer. It's a free tool where people can go in, write a headline, get scored, and then from there they can try to improve, or we could focus our time on a 10% project like writing just slightly better email copy.... One email isn't going to be as robust or 10X, won't produce the same amount of results as spending that time on a free tool. That's how we look at that."
Hold a "marketing road map summit" to generate ideas for projects (03:32): "Something that we do at CoSchedule is called a 'marketing road map summit,' and in that summit we set aside a whole day for the entire marketing team to get together and brainstorm the projects that we'll take on. That is all about brainstorming. We come in with a list of things that might work, but we also try to come up with new ideas and that's where we really try to focus on that 10X. We throw out every single idea we have. We don't filter ourselves at all, and afterward we work together to prioritize them.... It's like an XY chart. Will this benefit a lot of people? And will it be extremely valuable for those people? We then to find things that are 'up and to the right' that will benefit a lot of people with extreme value. That's really how we work with 10X not just in marketing, but we do that with how we build features into our tool, too."
For large companies, the key to project success is breaking up your project team into smaller groups (12:16): "Before I worked at CoSchedule, I was part of a huge corporate company and something that would work there still is the idea of coming up with [a project list] first, coming up with your list of marketing projects. Get that approved. If you get approval, then you can start executing your plan. The whole idea of 'plan your work then work your plan.' With 20 [or more] people, you likely have 'microteams' or smaller teams within the larger team. Why wouldn't you just try to come up with a prioritized project list for each team? And as they collaborate, have those leads work together to share resources as necessary."
If you want to master project management, check out the new MarketingProfs course Marketing Project Management Essentials, launching March 3.
Nathan and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Music credit: Noam Weinstein.