The Six Simple Rules: 2. Advertise your Project

Really? Advertising? Are we saying you should distribute leaflets and place ads in the newspaper?

Not really!

Let just have a look how Wikipedia defines what advertising is:

… a form of marketing communication used to promote or sell something, usually a business’s product or service.

Well, in project management we do not want to sell the project as a product.

BUT, you as a project manager, rely heavily on access to key resources, budgets and getting your colleagues and seniors to cooperate. And for all of this, it is a good idea to ‘advertise’ your project.

The benefits of ‘advertising’/marketing your project

1. Project marketing increases awareness

No matter in what kind of environment you manage your project: The more people talk about it, the easier it will be to be seen and heard, to have a voice. The perceived importance of your project will raise drastically, once people start thinking and talking about it more.

2. Project marketing reduces opposition and resistance

At the beginning of a project, it’s not uncommon to find that you need to rally for support for your project. A new project will eat sparse resources, it will impose additional work, sometimes it will even disturb old habits and routine. In order to get your new project accepted among your colleagues and within your organisation, you need to actively convince people. The earlier you start to market your project, the better. People need time to get used to the new – view this as part of your change management procedure.

3. Project marketing increases identification within your team

A strong leader is the glue that keeps a team together. If you advertise the project, you simultaneously advertise the people working for it. Fighting for your project will be perceived as “He is fighting for us and for our cause“. Can there be a better motivation for your project team?

4. Project marketing strengthens your position

Even if your project has potential supporters who are in favour of your cause, things are by no means granted to be easy. Sometimes a project has to compete with many other high-priority tasks. Then at times even your supporters will have difficulties to decide.

All to often, those who shout the loudest, win. This may be an uncomfortable truth but is still true. Success and results, if celebrated silently, will not be seen by anyone. You must be at least as loud as you colleagues.  (That’s obvioudly not the case if you are lucky enough to run the one-and-only-most-important-super-important-strategic project of your company.) But, for most projects, there is internal competition, so what can you do to market your project?

Project marketing – First actions

1. Communicate the benefits of your project

For decision-makers, often the gate-keepers of crucial resources, supporting your project is not about being kind to you. All that counts is  how the organsiation benefits. Communicate the potential clearly stating measurable results and advantages. Outline what is at stake for the company if your project will be slowed down or even canned because of stretched resources.

2. Publish status reports

Not all companies, organisations or other environments hold periodic decision meetings. Sometimes there is not even a steering committee for the project which meets at regular dates. If this is your situation, then there is the grave danger of fading out of sight and simply being forgotten. Projects easily loose impetus as people if they dont remain in people’s mind. A frustrating situation for both yourself and for your client, be it internal or external. To make sure your project stays on the agenda, send status reports to your management, even if not asked for. Communicate your success and problems, make them talk about your project. There is no use in hiding and staying on low profile all the time.

3. Talk about first results

Lunchbreak, small-talk, waiting in the coffee queue: There are many possibilities in office life to talk about achievements. Do not bluntly boast and tell everyone how great you are. Just talk about your project and its first results. Communicate what makes you escited about your project – that will excite others, too! Maybe also include some of the obstacles and how you got around them. Make people remember that conversation in a good way.

Active communication is one of the keys to success. Just try it!

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Alexander Blumenau (*1972) is a portfolio and project manager. With over a decade of international project experience he has been in charge as head of R&D in high-tech industries.
Originally Alexander started his career as a scientist and holds a doctoral degree in Physics. Besides his interests in project management, company processes and structures, he works as a free author and arts photographer.