Marketing Strategy, Project Management For Marketers, and Minidegree Overview (Review)
CXL Growth Marketing Minidegree: Week 11
11 weeks after starting, I completed CXL Institute’s Growth Marketing Minidegree. The final section module (management) covered Marketing Strategy and Project Management For Marketers; a final exam tested material from all 33 courses in the minidegree.
Marketing plays an essential role in business. The CMO of ThoughtBot began this course by going over marketing misconceptions: the goal is to trick customers, it’s all advertising, it’s a soft skill, marketing is dead, marketing works in a silo from product/sales/engineering, it’s just managing the website and Twitter account… I wrote about most of these misconceptions in my first few posts and listed them as reasons for taking this course: so I can do my best, in explanation and in action, to stop the spread of the marketing misinformation.
Marketing is a diverse, business-oriented field. The core areas of marketing are: product marketing, brand, demand generation, events & community, sales enablement, public relations, content and creative, and operations and analytics. Learning about the different marketing specialties was a whole journey for me, and this course gave a succinct overview.
Marketing strategy aligns all forms of marketing (above) and enables companines to earn revenue in order to achieve their missions and live out their values.
Models and frameworks
Any business school student can recognize common research and strategy frameworks — I love when my university education links to professional settings, and some of this course’s content drew from the same frameworks as my senior year marketing strategy capstone class. The CXL course introduced the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for thorough research, RACI chart (responsible, approve, consult, and inform) for managing different players, and OGSM layout (objectives, goals, strategies, measures) for presenting the final marketing strategy. In order, these frameworks help research, plan, and present a company’s marketing strategy. All while setting SMART goals, of course — (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely for those who haven’t run into the term quite as often).
Project management for marketers
Project management makes things happen. Having a strategy isn’t enough — you need to be able to efficiently and effectively execute it for the vision to be worth anything. Enter project management. Although marketers may work closely with dedicated project managers for their campaigns, marketers can benefit from understanding and implementing project management best practices.
Without proper project management, companies run into three issues:
1. Resource issues
· People: too busy, not prioritizing the right stuff
· Time: rushing, context switching
· Output: cutting back, not producing what needs to be done
2. Scope issues (missing deadlines)
· Over-commitment: taking on too much
· Under-commitment: taking on too little
3. Attribution (not knowing metrics or goals)
· Vague goals: too broad to be achieved
· Per-asset performance: not tracking KPIs for each campaign piece produced
· Actionable learning: not writing down what works and what doesn’t
Project management coordinates people, priorities, and processes to achieve one objective. All efforts support a single goal and leverage the team and company’s resources to get there.
Every successful campaign needs a launch squad: a group of contributors who own the timeline and major components of the project. Larger campaigns can take months/years to plan and pull in lots of teams. The DACI framework helps organize and prioritize communications with those outside the launch squad.
Each letter in DACI stands for a role:
Drivers: get stakeholder buy-in and keep people on track
Approver: takes ultimate decision and is responsible for the project success –the project manager). This is the only role that must only be held by a single person.
Contributors: stakeholders with relevant expertise and experience
Informed: those kept in the loop on decisions made along the way
Each project needs to make calculated campaign steps to stay on track:
- Look-back. The goal is to figure out what’s working and what’s not, what can be improved, and what can be added or removed based on similar past campaigns.
- Deep dive. A scoring system helps prioritize campaign ideas with the right balance of ease of implementation and unique campaign aspects.
- OKR. Each projects gets a set of 3–4 clearly defined objectives and 1+ key results (specific measures used to track achievement of the goals)
- Date map. Slot the work into the team’s schedule ahead of time to set a realistic timeline.
Projects can be executed through sprints: map, sketch, decide, prototype, and test.
Final exam & Minidegree review
The final exam showed how much the course covered and how much I’ve learned.
The minidegree met and exceeded my expectations. I found the courses to be perfect for someone like me: previous marketing knowledge, some experience, but not an expert in any 1 channel or specialty.
Subject matter experts or seasoned professionals would probably find many of the courses to be review. There was also a good amount of material overlap between the courses — helpful for beginners to retain new concepts but likely frustrating and inefficient for those with an existing solid grasp on the information.
On the other hand, someone with no knowledge or experience in marketing would probably feel quite lost and need to supplement with some more foundational marketing content to be able to tie all the courses together. The foundation of my college marketing major laid a nice foundation to connect the dots across the components of the minidegree.
As I mentioned in past review post, the formatting of the courses/exams was inconsistent and the user interface wasn’t the best. But most courses were clear, logical, and linked to external resources to continue learning and use relevant templates. I do think there is merit in each class being a stand-alone certification, though. The instructors were highly specialized and approached the subject not as a “degree filler” but as a quality deep-dive into the subject.
The timing of the minidegree worked out perfectly — I’ll be starting work on Monday as a marketing coordinator where I’ll be working on some growth marketing projects after onboarding. The CXL minidegree was an excellent conclusion to “classroom-style” learning and a functional bridge to hands-on experience where I’ll get to apply all the frameworks, tools, and approaches in a business setting.