Marketing Managers are Project Managers in Disguise

Marketing Managers are Project Managers in Disguise - McKinley

We see it time and time again. A client has difficulty finding a marketing project manager for an upcoming project, so they turn to us for help because they aren’t getting the right types of applicants. Sometimes, clients don’t even realize they need a project manager vs. marketing manager, and they are struggling to fill what they view as a pure marketing role. As they describe what they’re looking for and the scope of work, we recognize what they need and help them identify the right freelancer or full-time employee for the job.

It’s no surprise to us that employers sometimes struggle here because we often find that the marketers with the requisite skills aren’t necessarily calling themselves project managers. Following are tips on finding job candidates with the skills and experience you need.

Understanding the Dynamics: Project Manager vs. Marketing Manager

While general “marketing managers” focus on very specific tasks or deliverables, project managers set timelines, action plans, and budgets. They are skilled in task delegation, project oversight, and efficiency.

But the reality is most marketing managers are also project managers. They oversee projects such as product launches, website overhauls, or special events from start to finish. With the end date in mind, they create a framework of deliverables and if things get off track, they readjust accordingly. They pay keen attention to detail, manage risk, and make the best use of internal or external resources to get the job done on time and within budget.

For example, if a company wanted to revamp its website, the marketing project manager would need to set defined timelines, milestones, and budgets for the project. They would also need to enlist the help of a technical webmaster and content manager and make sure goals are met on time. They would oversee every aspect of the project from creation through implementation and delivery. Often, they will be managing multiple “projects” at any given time or conducting project management on a single task alongside their “day-to-day” responsibilities.

Finding the Right Fit: Seeking Marketing Project Managers

Some clues to finding a project manager vs. marketing manager can often be found on the job seeker’s resume or LinkedIn profile. To gain a better indication of a candidate’s strengths, look for the following keywords and phrases, which can sometimes get lost amongst other resume details and LinkedIn bullets:

  • Attention to detail or detail-oriented
  • Ability to manage multidisciplinary projects or cross-functional teams
  • Assigned tasks to team members and monitored their progress
  • Set milestones and deliverables for [XYZ projects]
  • Completed [XYZ project] on time and under budget
  • Led a team of professionals who completed a website redesign
  • Oversaw a large and complex project
  • Successfully managed vendor or client relationships
  • Developed and implemented marketing campaigns
  • Possesses exceptional time management skills
  • Event planner with keen attention to detail

By looking for these phrases, it will be easier to find marketing project managers to interview.

Differentiating Through Interview Questions

By asking the following questions, you can better assess a candidate’s experience and skill set to determine whether they lean more toward project management or marketing project management. Remember to tailor your questions based on the specific needs of your organization and the exact role you’re hiring for.

  1. Can you describe a time when you successfully managed a cross-functional team to achieve a specific project goal? (Project manager)                                                             
  2. How do you prioritize tasks and manage competing deadlines in a fast-paced environment? (Both)
  3. Can you provide an example of a marketing campaign you developed and implemented from start to finish? (Marketing manager)
  4. How do you handle scope changes or unexpected challenges during a project? (Project manager)
  5. Have you ever managed challenging vendor or client relationships for a project? If so, can you share how you navigated that experience? (Both)

McKinley Can Help You Find Marketing Project Managers

Let McKinley Marketing Partners help you find your next marketing project manager. With our extensive network and expertise, we’ll connect you with industry-leading professionals who seamlessly integrate marketing expertise with project management acumen to drive your initiatives to success. Our team specializes in sourcing, screening, and presenting candidates who possess the unique blend of skills required for marketing project management roles. By tapping us to solve your hiring needs, you can save time and resources by gaining access to a pool of qualified candidates who have been thoroughly vetted to meet your requirements. Focus on your core business objectives while we handle the recruitment process, delivering tailored solutions that match your goals and organizational culture.

This post was updated in March 2024.

by McKinley Marketing Partners