As a Project Manager heading dozens of projects all varying in size and complexity, I know that the sheer volume of accounts can be overwhelming. You’re coordinating between several different teams, managing multiple moving parts, setting expectations, and adhering to deadlines. As the point person collecting necessary information and communicating progress to the client, you are the central hub in a collective group striving for the same common goal.
Digital Marketing is an ever-changing field, staying ahead of the trends while focusing on the task at hand is a necessary skill. Developing the skillset and industry know-how to communicate your project’s needs to your team and relay that information in an easy to follow manner for your clients takes work.
Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Educate Yourself:
Whether you are new to your field or a seasoned vet, never stop learning. Ask questions, take courses, sit with your various teams to see what they do on a daily basis. It’s easier to set clear expectations for clients when you’re knowledgeable about all the processes involved.
- Build Relationships:
Establishing open lines of communication amongst your team will go a long way. Get to know them and what makes each person tick. In addition, I cannot stress the importance of building a strong rapport with your clients. Their experience with you will set the tone for the remainder of the business relationship. Discovering unique tidbits about them, their lives, likes and dislikes will help to build a casual and ongoing repertoire.
- Stay Organized:
Project management software, CRMs, spreadsheets…these mean nothing without detailed notes and constant maintenance. Develop and excel in note-taking skills, create checklists for common, repeated tasks and questions, create templates to minimize and eliminate “time wasters.” Perhaps this means finding ways to rid yourself of duplicating work if you discover you’re having to put the same information in several different locations. Making the most of your time and managing the complex details in an organized manner will help to improve efficiency all-around.
From making sure the tone is set at the onset of the project to relaying all the pertinent details to members of your team, communication is key. I think it’s important to set clear expectations with your clients in the beginning so there are no surprises. Budget a little buffer room for any unforeseen issues that may arise. Making sure that your team has clear and concise details is also essential. Set guidelines and expectations in advance to avoid unnecessary bumps in the path towards project completion.
- Chunk It Out:
Managing large scale projects can be daunting. Setting smaller attainable goals throughout the way will help to break it up into smaller, more easily attainable goals. This will not only put the project into a more manageable scale for you but will also provide touchpoints for your clients throughout the process and create small victories for your team to keep everyone excited and engaged.
So, what happens when on-boarding new clients isn’t your team’s only responsibility? Do the departments within your company handle various roles and have ongoing client relationships once the project is completed? Many times this is the case for your development and marketing teams. Making sure your teams are allotted the time to complete ongoing account maintenance and facilitate urgent requests are extremely important. Minimizing the interruptions in their daily routine can help to alleviate some of the stress and pressure they feel. Also, knowing what the full scope of their workload consists of will help to manage those “fires” that arise. Define what the standard turn around time should be for non-urgent requests and also what constitutes an “urgent” request. Making sure these deadlines are reasonable and attainable so as not to hold up the other projects they are working on is key.
No matter the size and scale of the project, it’s important to set realistic expectations with everyone involved. Knowing your project queue will help to translate realistic timelines for your clients. Setting benchmark deadlines with your team will help to keep the project on track and organized. It’s important to regularly evaluate internal processes to ensure they are optimized to meet the demands of the business. It may be a wise idea to create a project flow chart to help visualize project timelines based on the amount of projects in the queue. Not only is this helpful to Project Managers, but also owners monitoring the bottom line return, the sales team when setting initial expectations with clients, and the various team on-boarding your new client. Setting clear and realistic goals from the get-go will help to ensure project success, leaving you with happy clients and minimizing deadline pressures amongst your team.
Author: Naomi Pluchel, National Account Manager