Project marketing - a key factor in ensuring success

The best project management is worthless if the project is not well marketed. This is an unexpected and painful realisation for many project managers. Projects need the attention of top management in order to get funding, the prestige of the line organisation from which they want to hire the best people, the recognition of clients who will award follow-up contracts, and so on. They compete with other projects. It is always the case that whoever shouts the loudest gets the most attention. This is true even if another project is more challenging in terms of content, brings in more money or is otherwise more beneficial to the company. Those who remain silent risk going away empty-handed.
Folded hands on a table on which colourful blocks lie.


What is project marketing?

The term project marketing covers methods and measures that can be taken and implemented to promote the project. Project marketing should present the goal of a project, the path to the goal, the effects (opportunities and risks) and, above all, the respective benefits for the stakeholders. The project should be made known and the highest possible level of acceptance should be generated in order to exclude risks due to resistance and lack of information. A central component of project marketing is press or media and public relations work.
Many project managers are unfamiliar with the content and purpose of project marketing. Perhaps this is because many of them come from scientific and technical professions and have little connection with a discipline that, for lack of better knowledge, they simply treat under the heading of advertising - which in turn does not have a good image. It is therefore often seen as counterproductive and superfluous. But professional, project-specific marketing is just as important as other key project management methods, such as cost or financial planning. The knowledge, skills and personality traits required of a project marketing manager are therefore extensive. For example, the ability to approach people is essential.

Parallels to corporate marketing

Every well-run company has a marketing department. A project is nothing more than a temporary company and its client is the customer. Therefore, project marketing and its importance can be seen as analogous to the marketing of a company. While the marketing department of a company builds a corporate identity for the company, the marketers of a project work on building and maintaining a project identity.
The project identity includes the mission statement, values and image of the project, which should differentiate it from other projects and make it more attractive to potential stakeholders. Similar to a corporate brand, project marketing is about developing a unique positioning and a clear message to attract the attention of the target audience.
There are also similarities between project marketing and corporate marketing in the selection and use of appropriate communication channels. A company's marketing department chooses the appropriate channels to reach its target audience, whether through advertising, social media campaigns or direct marketing. Similarly, a project marketer needs to develop an effective communication strategy and identify the right communication channels to reach potential investors, supporters or other stakeholders. These channels may include press releases, online platforms, presentations at professional events or personal networks.
Finally, it is crucial to measure and evaluate the success of marketing activities, both project and corporate. Key figures and performance indicators are used to assess the effectiveness of the marketing strategy. Based on these results, adjustments can be made to optimise the marketing activities and achieve the desired results.

System integration

Project marketing is a system that must function independently, but it can also be part of an integrated project management system. From project start to project completion, project marketing is closely linked to the other project processes. It requires knowledge of key tools such as analysis of the current situation, definition of objectives and control, as well as know-how on how to implement the various marketing measures.
System integration in project marketing is crucial to ensure that all marketing activities are seamlessly embedded in the overall project structure. An integrated project management system allows project marketing to be integrated into the planning, implementation and control of the overall project. This ensures that the marketing objectives are closely linked to the overall project plans and objectives. The close integration of project marketing with the other project processes begins with project preparation. The as-is analysis helps to understand the current market and competitive conditions and to develop the right marketing strategies. The goal definition determines which marketing goals are to be achieved in the project and how they contribute to the overall success of the project.
During project implementation, project marketing works closely with other departments and stakeholders to coordinate marketing activities and communicate project messages. This may include working with product development, sales and corporate communications to ensure a coherent and effective marketing strategy.
Project marketing is managed through continuous monitoring of marketing campaigns and activities. The success of marketing activities is measured through appropriate key performance indicators and analysis. These findings are used to continually adjust and optimise marketing strategies to ensure that project marketing achieves the desired results and supports the overall success of the project. 
System integration helps to ensure that project marketing does not operate in isolation, but as an integral part of overall project management. Through well-coordinated integration, project marketing can achieve its full impact and contribute significantly to the success of the project by increasing visibility, attracting interest and building strong relationships with stakeholders. Therefore, effective system integration in project marketing is an essential building block for successfully completing projects and achieving the desired results.

Marketing strategy

The marketing strategy is based on the marketing objectives. It must fit the project culture, the people and their goals in the project. It is based on stakeholder analysis - analogous to market research in corporate marketing. Authenticity and identification of "project ambassadors" with the project (e.g. originators of the project idea, representatives of the client) are prerequisites for credibility and persuasiveness. 
As in stakeholder communication, stakeholders with matching needs are grouped together and tailor-made activities are defined for them. These can take place at fixed dates, but also on an ad-hoc basis (e.g. to mitigate image damage caused by project mishaps). Ideally, there should be close collaboration with the marketing department, so that project marketing can be dovetailed with corporate marketing (e.g. presenting the project at customer or employee events).
The marketing strategy also includes monitoring the competition. Project staff should look beyond the parapet to all other projects inside and outside the company to tap sources of information and thus identify competitive threats and opportunities for their project at an early stage. Benchmarking methods can be used to find out which project the company's or client's decision-makers would continue with in case of doubt and which they would abandon.


A project manager who recognizes the importance of marketing to a project and integrates it conceptually into a project creates attention and visibility. This is important for the presentation of the deliverables at the end of the project, but also for the project process. The project manager needs to keep the project on track with the team, even if problems, crises or worse arise during the course of the project. Consistent project marketing ensures the project's progress and, in the best case, helps to overcome all challenges. Among all the known methods and tools of project management, project marketing occupies a special position that the experienced project manager knows how to recognize and use skilfully.

Project marketing - the author
Author: Dr. Roland Ottmann
Keywords: Project management, Project marketing

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