Project vs campaign management

In September, I facilitated a “Project and Campaign Management” training session for the Professional Marketing Forum (Details of future courses: While the focus was on understanding the formal project management processes and how they apply in business development and marketing projects, we also considered the issues in terms of “Project vs Campaign Management”.

A project is:

  • A sequence of tasks
  • With a defined start and end date
  • To achieve objectives within three critical success factors: Time, Budget and Results

There were plenty of examples of major projects that span beyond marketing and business development teams including: CRM systems, KAM initiatives, new product/service development and major change management. Business development and marketing often also have programmes – projects that reoccur such as annual events or quarterly index updates.

A campaign is similar

One key difference is that a major business development or marketing campaign – for example a strategic thought leadership positioning campaign – may contain a number of separate projects. For example, client analysis, market research, report development, content management, digital communications, a series of events and a programme of sales meetings.

Both project and campaign management involve:

  • Careful analysis of the problem (or opportunity)
  • Development of SMART objectives so that a business case can be built and results assessed
  • Creation on a team including sponsors and specialists
  • Communications with stakeholders
  • Scoping and definition of boundaries
  • Detailed planning of what is to be done, when and by whom
  • Identifying standard task units (particularly valuable in establishing procedures and processes for common or frequent activities)
  • Budgeting both human resources (time) and cash investment
  • Establishing systems to monitor progress and manage any changes
  • Risk analysis and management (including contingency plans)
  • Progress reporting

Both projects and campaigns require a lot of advance preparation and planning. And both can suffer if insufficient attention is devoted to maintaining momentum during implementation, testing and execution phases.

In project management, we often use visualisation techniques to provide an overview of the entire project – and this is particularly useful in campaign management as it shows quickly all of the key elements involved in the pre-campaign planning, roll out and follow up activities. It’s a useful communication tool – especially for the stakeholders who may not be interested in the detail.

One of the main advantages of structured project and campaign planning and management is that it makes it easier for other people to become involved. It is easier to delegate tasks if you who is doing what and when (resource management) and also if the specific activities that must be completed have been set out clearly. It therefore provides a great tool for both capturing best practice and developing younger team members to take a project leadership role in future.

If the project or campaign uses critical path techniques – management, team members and any contributors can see the consequences of them being unable or late in completing those tasks for which they are responsible.

We discussed how, in project management, a change in one of the elements (time, resources or desired outcomes) will have an impact on the others. We observed that often in professional services marketing campaigns we are required to work faster or with less resources but still achieve the same outcome.

There is more information about project management here:

Campaign management blogs are here:

Is creativity the difference?

One of the main areas where the delegates felt that project management and campaign management would be different is in the area of creativity.

The best campaigns are based on a core insight into the target audience. And the best campaigns are creative in the way they identify a “big idea” or concept or approach that addresses that insight and makes the message stand out and differentiate and achieve results.

There are numerous blogs about creativity including: