5 Project Planning Tips to Keep All Stakeholders Happy

Project Planning Tips


These 5 project planning tips may not necessarily help you herd cats, but they will impress your boss once you get a stalled project up and running again or get a project back on track.


As a marketing manager, you’ll often be tasked with project planning and project management. Effective project managers are also good project planners. They know how to ask for, and gain, consensus. They know how to manage diverse talent and opposite personalities to get the job done.  Part diplomat and part shepherd, they ensure that projects run smoothly from start to finish.


To make your new marketing projects run more smoothly this year, use these five project planning tips written especially for marketing managers.


Project Planning Tips for Marketing Managers


  1. Always start with the end goal in mind, and keep the goal visible and quantifiable.  Without a clear-cut goal, projects tend to flounder. People lose interest. By creating a clearly defined and quantifiable goal for every marketing project you undertake, you’ll proceed with the end point in mind at all time. I used to write goals on big sheets of paper and post them at the front of the room during project meetings so that we could always point back to the goal when someone at the table agreed or disagreed with an idea presented. If the goal is visible and clear from the start, it helps focus the project and keep it on track.
  2. Identify key stakeholders, and then ask those stakeholders if they think everyone is at the table. Allow them to delegate someone else if they don’t have the time to work on the project or if they feel someone in their department is better qualified to work on the project. This also helps secure buy-in for the project, an important component for success.
  3. Use cost-benefit analysis or ROI to determine BEFORE you start a project if it’s valuable, useful and important enough to merit the team’s time. Show these figures to the team at the kickoff meeting or during the buy-in phase to make your case that they need to be part of the project. Not every great idea merits follow-through, and a cost-benefit analysis will help you weed out the time wasters from the potential projects on the marketing department’s slate.
  4. Scope out the project carefully, and include measurable milestones with details of who will achieve them on the team, how, and by when. Keep a running list of these details and follow up with team members frequently to ensure they’re on track.
  5. Communicate first, now and always. Just when you think you’ve communicated enough about a project, someone will complain they don’t know what’s going on. Communicate up to your supervisor about the project and communicate down to all the team members so they know what’s going on. You don’t need to write War and Peace every time you need to send a project email out; a short weekly follow up meeting where each team members speaks for 1-2 minutes and updates everyone on the project’s progress is fine, or consolidate weekly update emails into a bulleted digest email to share with team members. But do make sure that both the key stakeholders and the key approvers on the team are informed of the progress of the project.



Notice something missing from the list? Project planning software. While I’m not against great project planning or project management software, it’s not on my list because with even the best software in the world, people still need to manage projects, processes and other people. And that manager is you! If you’re a marketing manager, you will learn quickly that managing projects is mostly managing people and their divergent, creative, quirky personalities.


For more tips for marketing managers and business owners who handle marketing for their companies, listen to my free weekly podcast on Blog Talk Radio, Words That Work.  Subscribe to our monthly newsletter too.


© 2015 by Jeanne Grunert writing for Seven Oaks Consulting. Like this post? Contact us about our content marketing writing services, marketing consulting, and marketing training and seminars for business owners.


The Secret Reasons Why People Buy Your Services

piggy bank
piggy bank
Know the reasons why people buy!


MarketingProfs ran a story this week about the reasons why customers purchase B2B (business-to-business services).  The reasons ranged from “collaborated with me” to “offered solutions”.  You can read the original article on MarketingProfs, but I wanted to offer my own take on the topic based on my years of sales and marketing experience.


People Are Illogical During the Sales Process

People purchase products and services based on a complicated stew of emotions, logic, and feeling. They may buy from one salesman because he reminds them of their favorite actor, while another person may buy from a different salesman because he looks like a favorite teacher. While most people apply logic to their choices, underlying the logic is their past history, their feelings and other factors outside of your control.

Your Task: LISTEN

Your first task when selling goods or services is to LISTEN.  What is the person really telling you?

Number four on the Marketing Profs list was “Listened to me” but I believe that listening comes first on the list. If you don’t listen to what the customer is really telling you, then you can’t offer solutions.

Listening involves all your senses. It’s not just what the person is saying, but what they’re not saying.  If they’re coming to you seeking a solution, listen to the problem. Sometimes the problem is what they say it is, but often there’s a “problem behind the problem” that needs to be explored.

The Reasons Behind the Reason

For example, a company called me to ask if I would conduct a teleseminar for their marketing staff on the topic of SEO. I gladly said yes, since it’s one of my favorite topics to teach. However, they didn’t need information on SEO – they could get that from books, online articles, and myriad other sources.

What was the real reason they wanted me to present on this topic? I had extensive industry experience that related directly to the audience’s job functions. Because the industry is so specific and so insular, they needed someone who had actually worked “in the trenches” so to speak and who could teach from a place of knowledge, experience and education. Just hiring any old consultant wouldn’t do. They wanted someone who their team members could trust, because she’d walked the path before them.

That was the ‘reason behind the reason’ for the assignment. My job wasn’t just to impart the basics of SEO to the group, it was to reassure them that good search engine optimization is useful for all industries, and that it was possible to implement good SEO in their industry.

Why Do People Buy from You?

Let’s look more closely at the Marketing Profs list of reasons why customers choose a particular vendor for B2B services. The reasons include:

  1. Educated me with new solutions.
  2. Collaboration (partnership)
  3. Showed me it would achieve results.
  4. Listened to me.
  5. ….more

Among the topics on this list, do you see a trend?  Education, collaboration, results.

Do you educate prospects on the possible solutions available? Do they feel like they have a true partner with you, someone they can trust to deliver the results? Lastly, do they see a clear pattern of results in your previous work – results you can demonstrate to them?

Clearly Convey a Reason to Buy

Remember that if you sell online, your words must convey the reason to buy. That goes for people who use the written word, as I do here in this blog post, audio or video clips.

  • Are you clearly articulating the “why” behind the “buy?”
  • Do you show the results people can achieve with your services?
  • Do you offer new solutions or educate them on ideas they didn’t know before? (That’s content marketing, much of the word I do here at Seven Oaks Consulting).
  • If you have conveyed the “why” before the “buy,” is it prominent on your website? Do you repeat it often enough? Saying it once isn’t enough – people may need to read it multiple times to truly ‘get’ what you’re saying.

In order to sell more of your goods or services, or acquire new customers, you’ve got to know, understand and apply tactics to address the secret reasons why people buy your services. Listen, learn, educate, respond and collaborate. It’s the best way to acquire, retain and create loyal customers!



Jeanne Grunert is the president of Seven Oaks Consulting. She’s an award-winning writer and marketing expert who works with clients in diverse industries to help them acquire, retain and create loyal customers through powerful direct marketing and content marketing strategies, great writing, and expert online promotion. Visit Seven Oaks Consulting to learn more.