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27 February 2007

Marketing Projects: How is marketing relevant to projects?

My undergraduate degree was a bachelor of business and I majored in marketing. As a marketing student straight out of school I couldn’t apply the theories I was learning to a corporate workplace, but I could apply them to the various service jobs I held in bars, restaurants and retail. It became a lens I used to look at many social interactions.

Later when I started working on business process and I.T. projects I took my services marketing frameworks with me. These projects included things like implementing workflow and payroll systems, or automating or off-shoring business processes and the like.

I dealt with a dozen or sometimes more stakeholders who work in a head office or maybe a couple of regional offices, but rarely have I been expected to do more than generic ‘announcement’ style communications and basic training for the actual frontline users. These user groups can range in number from several dozen to several thousand.

I have been wondering for a while to what degree the formal and planned application of some marketing principles, and maybe the inclusion and execution of a project marketing plan, could help these projects. I believe that many of the key success factors for projects are similar, if not the same as for businesses.

Out of this belief comes a suspicion that, apart from the finite timeframe of a project, projects could in fact be run on similar principles to businesses; after all businesses are beginning to run themselves via projects (Jugdev, 2004). And even the finiteness of projects is stretching out longer and longer, within the context of corporations’ agendas. For example I have worked in a firm that had two CEO changes and a significant restructure in the time that a strategic IT programme only delivered two of four planned significant change projects. The programme lasted longer than some operational business units.

Over the course of the next few posts I am going to investigate and discuss how the inclusion of marketing principles into project planning and execution could potentially improve project outcomes. I welcome comments!

Sidebar: I have bought Joyce, Nohrita and Robeson’s book “What Really Works” and see their success indicators for business as beliveable and a good breakdown of what should be done to achieve success. Projects are shorter term than organisations, and have some distinct qualities and their success factors are also different, but reading this book I see that there are also many similarities in terms of what success is and how people get there.

Kam Jugdev, (2004) ‘Through the looking glass: Examining Theory Development in Project Management with the Resource-Based view lens’ Project Management Journal (Sep 2004) Vol 35, No 3, pp15-26

Richard Joyce, Nitin Nohrita and Bruce Roberson, (2002) ‘What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success’ Harper Collins Business