Your Online Marketing Won't Manage Itself — How to Get the Help You Need
Most small business owners are in a real pickle when it comes to marketing.
Their business is too small to have the luxury of having an in-house Marketing Director or an army of Wiz Kid interns to handle the day-to-day tasks that go into marketing a business online — creating engaging social media posts, updating the website, producing email marketing, targeting ads, the works. But they’re too overwhelmed to keep hacking things themselves.
What’s a small business owner to do?
Often they call someone like me (oh hi, Amanda here).
“Can you just do it for me?” they’ll say. I can hear the overwhelm in their voice and see the fear in their eyes. More than one person has flat-out told me they hate social media and wish it would go away forever.
What? When did the magic of social media platforms — a world that individually connects you with your ideal audience become something of dread?
Don’t get me wrong, I totally get it. I’m a small business owner too. Each day it seems there’s another online marketing platform out in the world, adding additional layers of complexity and new learning curves to conquer.
And while most of these tools are free or low cost, they can be a huge time-suck.
#RealTalk: It’s not social media that’s the problem. It’s managing all that goes into marketing a small business online that’s so overwhelming: making sure posts get written, graphics get made, emails get sent, and tweets get tweeted.
The piece of the puzzle that’s missing is project management.
WHAT THE FRENCH IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
Project management is about as sexy as the title implies. It’s essentially any system of monitoring a project from start to finish, including the hundreds of little steps in-between.
How do we know? We each got our start in the ad agency world as Project Managers. We’ve worked with projects, clients, timelines, teams and budgets of all sizes. Today we don’t list “Project Manager” in our email signature or LinkedIn bios anymore because it’s not all we do, but it’s what we’re best at, and what our clients typically need help with.
What exactly do we do?
We like to compare project management to wedding planning. A Wedding Planner doesn’t make your wedding cake, but she does help you determine the kind of cake you want, order it, and makes dang sure it gets delivered to the venue on time.
Get where we’re going? Also, did someone say cake?
Project managers oversee the work that needs to be done. They aren’t usually designing your ads one minute, then developing the back-end of your website the next. But they know how to talk with the people who are.
We’re communicators, organizers and problem solvers.
It’s not the sexy stuff, but it makes the magic that makes everything else possible. It’s mostly unseen: lists made, emails sent, follow-ups confirmed, things double-checked.
So if managing your marketing is alarmingly overwhelming, or you’re a self-proclaimed “creative person who can’t stay focused,” project management might be just what you’re missing.
We’ve compiled a list (see what I did there?) of five reasons why a Project Manager will make your life work-life easier.
01 | PROJECT MANAGERS PROVIDE CLEAR DIRECTION
Often, small business owners don’t know their best next step. You’re amazing at what you do, but marketing may not be in your wheelhouse. But we know that marketing is a key to keeping your business in the forefront of people's’ minds — whether you offer a service or product.
Somehow you’ve fallen into the mindset that you have to do it all — new this, new that, more of this, more of that. It’s incessant and the internet keeps reminding you of what you’re not doing. However, that scattered-brained feeling is often a result of not having a strategy in place. You feel like you have to do it all, but you actually don’t.
Put strategy first. Then act.
Quality project managers see the whole picture of your project. They can see what needs to happen and articulate that to who needs to know it. They’ll be responsible for taking your vision and strategy and putting into place.
In short, project managers are implementers. If you need something done, find a project manager.
02 | PROJECT MANAGERS GET THINGS IN ORDER
Details and spreadsheets are our love language. We believe everything can be and should be organized and purposeful.
We know good systems make the world go round, so we nerd out in identifying and creating processes and following them. Project managers fear dropping the ball in any situation, so they go above and beyond to make sure all of the bases are covered (wow, two sports references — who are we right now?).
This goes back to seeing the whole picture. But more than that, they take what ideas you might have and organize them in a way that makes it easy to communicate the goals and steps to get where you’re going. They give your project a process, essentially a game-plan for getting done.
The best part is: Once you nail down a process, you can streamline your efforts for future projects just like it. (In Allea’s opinion, this is the best part!)
What is a process?
We do a lot of things over and over again, without even realizing it. Whether you’re on-boarding new clients, launching a new service or promoting a product launch on social media — they all require different steps and a the timeline for each varies.
For instance, there are dozens of steps for planning out your “content calendar” for social media each month. You need to:
Plan your content themes or promotions
Write text for captions
Pick dates and times to schedule posts
Input graphics and text into a social media scheduling app
Engage with followers
Then you do it again next month
That’s a process. And social media is just one aspect of your marketing.
Having a solid process means that you’ve accounted for what needs to happen (tasks) and in what order (process). It gets even better when you can take a process and templetize it for the next time you launch a new service or host an event.
Check out our Graphics & Go course — where we give you the process we use for our social media at Ma’am Marketing.
Why is a process important?
By using a process, you’ve determined what needs to happen, when it needs to happen and who is responsible for getting it done. It takes intentionally to mull over the details — and that’s why project managers are helpful. Especially as a productivity-minded person, project managers can balance your vision or strategy with what realistically needs to happen.
Project managers effectively use communication tools — like Asana, Trello, Slack, spreadsheets, carrier pigeons or whatever we have at our disposal — to keep everyone team on track.
A sign of a valuable project manager is that they don’t waste your time. In fact, they’re helping you become more efficient with your limited time and resources.
03 | PROJECT MANAGERS HOLD EVERYTHING TOGETHER
Ad agencies is a whole world of itself. But it might be helpful to learn a little bit more of what that project managers do in a corporate role:
“Project managers are the glue that helps keep projects — and people — together. They are responsible for planning, organizing, managing and executing projects from beginning to end. The project scope can vary from single pieces of collateral to multifaceted, multichannel marketing campaigns.” (Source)
Project managers are often called the “liaison” between the creative and the client — learning, listening and balancing how each person on the team works. They hold together and communicate between all sorts of elements: the client, the creative team and the tasks that need to get done.
They are not in the spotlight. You’ll find them buzzing behind the scenes. Their goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Even though everyone’s communication styles are different, the project manager determines what’s most effective for getting everyone (and the project) to the finish line.
Keeping You on Track
Whether a solopreneur or if you’re leading a team, getting your tasks in order is a game-changer. A project manager can help you identify what tasks need to happen, the order they need to happen and make use a system or app to help you manage all one-million tasks for running your small business.
In a world of sparkly ideas and money-hungry jesters (yes, those people still exist), project managers are in your corner. They’ll come to your defense — for the sake of your bigger goals — by telling you what you need to hear, when you need to hear it. Out of respect for your time, resources and energy as a small business owner, they’ll keep you on course with the strategy you’ve put in place.
Working With Your Team
Teamwork makes the dream work.
And when your team has a hundred tasks to complete in a week, these responsibilities need to be sorted out and assigned.
This is where project managers really shine. We enjoy divvying up work into bite-size tasks, and assigning them to everyone so they know exactly what they should be doing.
Your marketing functions best when everyone on your team is rowing in the same direction. By having systems and apps in place, your team should clearly know who is responsible for what, when it’s due and have a clear channel for communicating questions.
Project managers make sure everyone’s organized and on time. We use equal parts sticker charts and bribes, with subtle threats, to make sure everything thing gets done.
04 | PROJECT MANAGERS KNOW WHO TO CALL FOR HELP (AND WE SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE)
No one can know it all — or know how to do it all well. Creatives like videographers or graphic designers want to do the one thing they’re contracted to do, but it’s usually not in their scope of work to provide strategy too.
Project managers can see the whole picture. Since small businesses don’t always have the budget for multiple creative specialists, nor the time to manage them all, we get creative with the resources we have.
As project managers, we know what we know and what we don't. We can help you get organized, but you may also identify gaps for more specialized work, like photography or web design. Project managers can connect you with specialized professionals.
At Ma’am Marketing, we enjoy working with creatives — in fact, we speak their creative language. We throw around words like “navigation,” “segment” and “landing page” like some people talk about sports.
A good project manager is a translator between the needs of the business and the expertise of the creative partner they’re working with, allowing both to use their strengths and work toward your marketing strategies together.
05 | PROJECT MANAGERS ALLOW YOU TO DO YOUR BEST WORK
Our main superpower is making you — the brave and passionate small business owner — look good.
By alleviating the stress and anxiety of trying to keep track of all of the details and deadlines involved with marketing, project managers can be your resource instead of relying on Google to learn the ins-and-outs of this or that.
When you’re overwhelmed by options and making decisions, while strapped for time and operating on a tiny budget, it might be best to hire someone to help you out. Project managers help small business owners reduce overwhelm, get organized and gain peace of mind when it comes to marketing their business online.
You started your business for a reason. You rock at that. Let someone else lend a hand in getting your marketing on track.
Hiring a project manager for your marketing allows you to spending less time worrying about details and put focus your attention elsewhere — like creating new projects, developing those far-fetched ideas you've been mulling over, spending time with clients (and getting new ones!) — you know, the reasons you started your business to begin with.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT IS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES TOO
While project managers are primarily found in larger-scale ad agencies or companies, your small business can still benefit from project management tools and processes.
In fact, small businesses often need project management more than larger businesses. Why? Because managing your time as the CEO and Doer-of-All-the-Things is the most important thing you can do for your business. Seriously.
By knowing what all is involved in marketing your business, what you’re responsible for, what members of your team (if you’re lucky enough to have one) should be doing, and what you can begin to outsource — you’ll be most effective and successful in executing your marketing strategy.
By developing clear project management processes or investing in a project manager to help you, you’ll be able to alleviate your overwhelm and distaste for online marketing once and for all. You can get back to valuing online marketing for the powerful tool it can be to help grow your business.
We Can Help
At Ma’am Marketing, we know marketing. We’re Type A, list-making marketing nerds. Not only do we understand best practices, we keep up on trends so you don’t have to. We’re only going to develop a strategy or dole out advice based on what’s realistic and beneficial for you.
Providing digital marketing strategy and project management systems for small business owners is what we do.
Want someone to help you create a marketing strategy to reach your business goals and manage your projects efficiently? We provide different types of services packages, since we work with businesses of all sizes.
Ready to dive in?
We'd love to chat with you to see which of our services would be the best fit for you, right here, right now. By booking a Discovery Call, we'll get time on the calendar to hear what you're thinking and offer up our best suggestions on how we can help you move forward.
What are your biggest challenges in managing your marketing as a small business owner? We want to know! Leave us a comment.