Today, it takes a team to see most marketing projects to completion. This could include a chief marketing officer, creative director, strategist, procurement specialist, marketing manager, web developer, social media specialist, digital analyst, media planner, agency partners and more.

While it may take ALL of these team members to develop the project, THREE in particular are critical for its success. Here’s who they are:

The passionate advocate: MVP

Sometimes an initiative is driven from the top of an organization. However, in most cases, it’s pushed from conception to completion by a manager or director with a BIG idea who cares deeply about driving organizational change, starting with their area of expertise.

Whether it’s a digital specialist who knows it’s critical to update a company’s website to meet emerging technological and search requirements; a social media manager who’s convinced there’s a better way to connect with clients; a marketing director who has a vision for a more integrated approach to programmatic marketing and sales; or a creative director who sees how a company’s brand should evolve in the future — every project needs someone who truly “gets it” and is willing to be a passionate advocate for it.

The advocate for a project is willing to go to the mat to realize their vision. 

The characteristics and skills necessary to be successful as a project advocate include:

  • Vision
  • Subject expertise
  • Analytical ability
  • Communication ability
  • Passion
  • Diligence
  • Stamina
  • Perseverance
  • Networking ability
  • Presentation development and delivery skills
  • Focus 
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity

What an advocate does: An advocate sees things in a unique way. They’re the “brains” and guiding force behind a project who ensures it get realized in the best way possible.

Why an advocate is necessary: Without an advocate, it’s easy for an initiative to lose focus or energy before it’s complete. Not having an advocate — or cheerleader — is a reason many projects never make it to the finish line or don’t become wins.

The sponsor: Team owner

It’s not enough for a project to have an advocate. It also requires a sponsor to ensure it gets done — and done right.

Think of the project sponsor as the banker and ultimate client behind a marketing initiative. Typically, the advocate sells the project sponsor (typically the chief marketing officer or other senior-level company leader) on the benefits of the initiative. 

Once the project is sold, it’s up to the project sponsor to gain organizational buy-in, usually from the chief executive officer, chief financial advisor, head of technology, legal counsel and others. This person also explores how the marketing opportunity should integrate with other organizational priorities and marshals the internal and external resources — including budget dollars — to get the project done. 

Once the project is underway, the project sponsor checks-in regularly to ensure the initiative is on track. If things go off the rails, they use their leadership skills and connections to put it back on track.

The attributes necessary to be an effective project sponsor include:

  • Leadership
  • Big picture thinking
  • Budget control or influence
  • Decision-making ability
  • Solid connections
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving ability
  • Advocate
  • Mentor / advisor

What a project sponsor does: A project sponsor is the ultimate owner, funder, mentor and coach who understands the big picture and sees why a project is critical to the future of the company. They use their influence to ensure an initiative is positioned to succeed and steps-in, as needed, so it makes it to the finish line as intended.

Why a project sponsor is necessary: Organizations are full of passionate people with great ideas. It’s the responsibility of the sponsor to select the projects for development that will most benefit the organization, secure all the right resources (including funding) to get it done, check-in to make sure all is going well and use their influence to break through roadblocks that get in the way.

The project manager: Coach

It’s critical for a project to have an advocate to imagine and drive it and a sponsor to back it. However, if it doesn’t have someone to guide it on a daily basis, it’s likely to fail.

That’s where the project manager comes in. It’s their role to ensure that all the correct internal and external project resources are engaged and performing their functions on time and on budget.

Once a project is envisioned, approved and funded, it’s up to the project manager to develop a detailed project plan, calendar and budget that governs its development. Think of the project manager as the general, diplomat and coach who guides it through to completion day-by-day, hour-by-hour.

The attributes and skills necessary to be an effective project manager include:

  • Detail oriented
  • Good verbal and written communicator
  • Ability to identify obstacles
  • Networking
  • Project management black belt
  • Organized
  • Diplomatic
  • Tactful
  • Leadership

What a project manager does:

  • Develop a comprehensive project plan
  • Onboard the right internal and external team members to get it done
  • Ensure tasks are completed on time and budget
  • Identify issues related to getting the project done and alerting the team and leaders about them
  • Communicate project status to team members and key stakeholders
  • Bring the team together for regular status meetings
  • Identify team members who are under- and out-performing
  • Develop learnings about the project to guide future efforts

Why a project manager is necessary: Vision and big-picture thinking are important to the success of a project. However, if you don’t have someone to guide every detail of it through to completion, it simply can’t succeed. No team ever made it to the finish line without a coach to map its plays and guide it yard-by-yard to a win.

Clearly, the project manager is a member of the triumvirate necessary for a project to succeed.

Do you need added bench strength to conceive of or develop a marketing initiative or project? Carpenter Group has worked with all types of firms in the financial and professional services industries. Check out samples of our work, then contact us to find out how we could help you.