Or in other words, what I do on a daily basis. I won’t give you a play-by-play of a regular Tuesday in the office but I will explain my role in this agency. At this particular moment, I hold a unique role because I am both a project manager and an account service person. In the simplest of terms, that means that I am the liaison between the client and the internal team. Not to simplify the internal teams’ positions in any way, but in general, a designer designs, a copywriter writes, a developer develops. It’s a little more difficult to parse what goes into managing an account, especially an inbound marketing account. I will do my best to explain that we do more than answer e-mails all day (although that is definitely part of the job).
What’s the difference between an inbound marketing account and a regular marketing account?
There is a difference and it’s relevant to this blog post. I promise. There are plenty of articles about what inbound marketing is including this one, but I’m just going to explain why this is important to managing an account. Inbound marketing is more about the “pull” than the “push,” so there are very few deliverables that we need to get out the door to a publisher or a printer. Instead, we get to dictate our own deadlines based on the strategy agreed upon by the client. Inbound marketing (at least at this agency) is also mainly digital, which allows for certain flexibility when it comes to revisions. So if we get to decide our deadlines and there’s less stress involved in proofing what in the world do I do all day?
What is a project manager?
I’m going to explain this using my favorite analogy; also, I’m a total theater geek so this seems particularly appropriate. Have you ever been to a musical, play, any show? Yes? Awesome. No? Buy a ticket. Kidding. Sort of. Anyway, if you have been to a show, everything went well and it was enjoyable, you go home and talk about the music, the story, maybe the set if it was really awesome, potentially the lights, definitely the actors but do you ever talk about the stage manager? I’m guessing never. Unless something goes wrong in the show. And you shouldn’t talk about the stage manager because honestly that would take away from the magic of the show. But actors would not stand in the appropriate spot, lights would not go on when needed, music would not play on time and the show would not be seamless without the stage manager listing the cues from his or her headset. And that’s what I do; I list the cues (not from a headset, although that would be super cool) so the account is as seamless as possible.
How I do it
There are plenty of skills involved in this position and (not so humble brag) I’m very talented. Jokes. But I do believe these three are unavoidable when it comes to managing an inbound marketing account.
Everyone has his or her own way to stay organized. Some use stickies and highlighters. Others use lists and lists of lists. There are a plethora of project management apps all worth looking into. But if you can’t think of a way to keep track of everything that is going on in your accounts, nothing else really matters.
*The examples I listed are the things I use and trust me I’m still exploring all of the organization tools the Internet has to offer.
This is a skill that, for me, is difficult to teach/explain but essentially it’s an understanding of how long a task might take to complete. The project manager has to do this for everyone on his or her team and they have to consider EVERYTHING that goes into a task because all of it takes time. It’s also always smart to include buffer time, in case of something unexpected (and you can expect the unexpected to happen 90% of the time). For example, my brother just turned 16 so he can now drive himself to school. It takes 25 minutes to get to school so my brother gets up 40 minutes before he has to leave (he loves sleep). He decided that he has factored in getting dressed, brushing his teeth and grabbing a bagel to eat in his car. He is ALWAYS late. Why? It does, in fact, take him 15 minutes to just get dressed, brush his teeth and grab a bagel but what he hasn’t accounted for is picking out his outfit, packing his backpack, toasting his bagel, putting cream cheese on his bagel, the unexpected (the super slow elementary school bus he gets stuck behind if he leaves at 7:02am instead of 7:00am) and the list can go on. The little things count because again, everything takes time and if a project manager doesn’t account for the “little things” deadlines are missed.
Nothing is perfect. And trust me nothing ever goes exactly the way you planned. So a project manager has to be able to communicate to the team and the head of the account. Sometimes the team will have to endure a busy week, sometimes the client has to compromise, but all of this should be explained to both parties and the reasoning should be sound.
So that’s what I do in this agency. I make the show go on.