Relevance of project marketing activities to project management practitioners


Skema Business School


Project marketing research today is primarily known in the European management research world. It continues to be practically non-existent in the practitioner and research world in North America. The purpose of this research paper is to provide a brief synopsis of a dissertation in progress. This dissertation aims at studying project marketing and illustrating that it can be viewed from two primary perspectives: project management and marketing. This will provide knowledge of its existence and awareness in the academic community. Furthermore, the dissertation aims at investigating the relationship between project marketing and project management adopting a marketing perspective of project marketing as the basis. This will highlight the importance of project marketing in the practitioner world. According to the marketing perspective, project marketing can be defined as the management of multiple projects between supplier X and client Y focusing on the long-term consequences on the customer's business. Prior research has been conducted on the relationship between project marketing and project management, and yet, the anonymity of project marketing in the practitioner world is concerning. Hence, this dissertation study endeavors to give a practical dimension to this relationship by conducting quantitative analysis using a survey. Additionally, the study will also qualitatively analyze the research questions using semi-structured interviews in parallel to the quantitative study. This mixed methods approach is used in order to obtain a holistic understanding of the phenomenon rather than using a singular methodology only.


Overview of the Research Study

With minimal awareness, researchers today face challenges in relating the field of project marketing to live applications. Organizations require projects to be characterized by a higher degree of market orientation. To ensure the understanding of project marketing and to establish its significance in the industrial sector today, we must re-think and re-define project management as a process (Cleland & Gareis, 2006). Recent studies in project management have broadened the way of looking at this field by incorporating a customer-based approach moving closer to the worldview adopted by project marketing (Cova & Salle, 2005). As we study project marketing and its implementation in the practical world, we begin to notice how both the worlds of project marketing and project management overlap in their concepts and practices. The aim of this research is to understand the two worlds from a practitioner's perspective. We will realize this by investigating the relevance of project marketing activities to project management practitioners.

Premise of the Study

In this section, we will discuss the transaction cost economics (TCE) theory and the Broker-Steward model as they form the underlying premise for this research study.

Transaction Cost Economics Theory

This theory, which is mostly associated with the work of Williamson (1996), develops an economic theory that is concerned with the structure of the firm. Unlike the previous theories, TCE does not treat the organization as a “black box” instead, it stresses on the importance of understanding the internal workings of the firm. According to Williamson, the agents of transaction costs are frequency, specificity, uncertainty, limited rationality, and opportunistic behavior. Bounded rationality and opportunism are the primary assumptions that TCE theory is based upon. Bounded rationality refers to the fact that irrespective of how knowledgeable managers might be, they will be unable to consider all the possible alternative courses of action. Williamson also highlighted that traditional economic theory assumes that “human nature as we know it is unexpected.”

Williamson (1996) described that any transaction can be characterized by three dimensions of variables, namely frequency, uncertainty, and asset specificity emphasizing that transactions can be frequent or rare, have high or low uncertainty, or involve specific or non-specific assets. Transaction costs can be defined as the comparative costs of planning, adapting, and monitoring task completion under alternative governance structures (Williamson, 1996). Turner and Keegan (2001) linked these costs to the costs incurred during a project's performance management and configuration management. Furthermore, Williamson (1996) defined the core hypothesis of TCE as one where transactions should be aligned with governance structures in a discriminating way. Williamson said that TCE makes the transaction the unit of analysis, but he also said that transaction cost analysis is an examination of the comparative costs of planning, adapting, and monitoring task completion under alternative governance structures. As mentioned earlier, it is very essential to understand the internal workings of firms. The management of organizations affects the decision choices adopted by the organization.

Broker-Steward Model:

Broker-Steward Model

Figure 1. Broker-Steward Model

Figure 1 describes the dynamics of a project-based organization and shows the interaction between different units inside the organization. This model is based on the Turner and Keegan (2001) governance model that coined the terms broker and steward. In the world of project management, the broker is responsible for the following: maintaining relationships with the client by identifying and attracting new clients; bidding for new project opportunities with the existing client; liaising with the client during and till project outcomes have been delivered; ensuring customer satisfaction; and working with the client for follow up projects.

This is in contrast to the role of the steward in the Turner and Keegan (2001). The steward can be compared to that of a project manager appointed by the portfolio manager or senior management like the broker. The steward is responsible for delivering the project on time meeting all the budget and scope requirements. He or she allocates resources to complete the project and the project management methods necessary to be implemented to execute the project effectively. Table 1 was designed by Turner and Keegan (2001). It describes the different roles and responsibilities categorized by the size and type of project/program.

Table 1. Roles and Responsibilities of the Broker and Steward

Case Broker Steward
  • VirtualFactory
  • BT Back Office
  • Account Manager
  • Product Manager
Network Coach
  • Solutions Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Ericsson telephone network development
  • Reuters infrastructure development
Account Manager Champion Solutions Manager Project Manager
Large Projects
  • ECI
  • STS
Contracts Manager Marketing Director Program Director Research Director (Managing Director)

Theory Base

This paper finds its theoretical base in project marketing. As mentioned earlier, project marketing can be viewed from two different perspectives: marketing and project management. This is important in order to understand the stance adopted by the paper. From a marketer's perspective, project marketing is the management of multiple projects focusing on the long-term consequences of these projects on a specific customer's business. This field of study is customer and stakeholder based, and the actors involved could be internal or external to the organization. Project marketing, however, is a concept in development and seems not to be really practiced in the industry today. According to project marketing researchers (such as Cova, 2002; Tikkanen, 2003; Skaates, 2003; Lecoeuvre-Soudain, 2006; Salle, 2002; Blomquist & Wilson, 2007), project marketing is the broader term that includes project management thus stating that project marketing re-targets the project in the wider context of project business. On the other hand, project managers describe project management as a process and highlight project marketing as a project management task. They believe that project marketing is one of the roles of a project manager. Therefore, we can notice the different worldviews toward project marketing.

In this section, we will focus on studying project marketing by these two schools of thought in order to cover the literature base of project marketing. The first section will stress the marketing perspective on project marketing.

Project Marketing from the Marketer's Perspective

From this definition of marketing, how do we proceed to understanding project marketing? We first define project from a marketing perspective as a complex transaction concerning a package of products, services, and works, designed specifically to be realized in a certain period of time and a specific asset for a client (Cova & Salle, 2005). Project marketing, therefore, emphasizes transaction. The customer's project is perceived as a transaction for the supplier. The project only exists if the owner has decided to externalize an entire project or part of one. It focuses on the long-term consequences of the project on the customer's business (Cova & Salle, 2005). Project marketing researchers (such as Cova, 2002; Tikkanen, 2003; Skaates, 2003; Lecoeuvre-Soudain, 2006; Salle, 2002; Blomquist & Wilson, 2007) believed that all projects require marketing actions especially because project negotiations involve something intangible (Lecouevre & Deshayes, 2006). Project marketing literature states that projects always involve purchasing and selling organizations. Therefore, project marketing explicitly deals with issues related to external marketing and focuses on internal marketing of projects within one organization (Tikkanen & Skaates, 2003). In addition, from the project marketing literature, we can see that project marketing contributes to project progress and is not concerned with business and contract achievement. Conclusively, “a separate marketing theory is needed for projects to avoid the erroneous direct application of industrial marketing concepts, just as a consumer goods marketing approach was applied to industrial goods two decades ago” (Lecouevre & Deshayes, 2006).

According to Cova and Salle (2005), project management, as it exists in the modern era, finds its root in the 1960s with major military space programs and large-scale development work. The Project Management Institute (PMI) was the founder of the organizational model and standardized tools created by the worldview of project managers and project teams. With this model in mind, the project transaction that consists of the invitation to bid is included in the overall project life cycle (conceptualization/planning/execution/termination). These project marketing researchers continued to elaborate on the topic highlighting the fact that this overall project life cycle is unable to illustrate how the invitation to tender is a very significant trigger on any project. Once the contract has been won, the supplier takes over project management. Project marketing steps in at this point and investigates beyond the invitation to bid to help promote competitive advantage. Project marketing, therefore, has taken the point of view of the supplier and has shifted away from the standard PMI enveloping model.

Initially, Cova and Salle (2005) defined project marketing as a set of processes that defined itself as a set of processes facilitating suppliers that sell projects-to-order in order to recognize customer projects much before the invitation to tender to be effectively prepared. During this phase, the project is envisioned as a type of offer and not as a product or industrial service. They therefore suggested that project marketing gives greater emphasis on the phases before and after the project, and therefore, the project marketing life cycle consists of six separate stages: search, preparation, bidd, negotiation, implementation, and transition.

Project marketing researchers (such as Cova, 2002; Tikkanen, 2003; Skaates, 2003; Lecoeuvre-Soudain, 2006; Salle, 2002; Blomquist & Wilson, 2007) supported the broad time frame described that takes into account project activities and the worldview of the supplier. However, several models have also been developed with the objective of aligning the supplier's project marketing cycle with the client's project buying cycle. Industrial network theory that considers markets as networks has commissioned project marketing to reach beyond the functional approach of attaining project sales based on identifying project opportunities. Project marketing, as a discipline, has evolved into a strategic initiative as it concentrates on anticipating projects even when there are not any on the horizon. This is usually accomplished by the leveraging off of key relationships with clients and stakeholders. Cova and Salle (2005) developed three phases in project marketing life cycle:

  1. Independent of any project. The project does not yet exist for the supplier.
  2. Pre-tender. The supplier has identified a project and chooses whether to invest resources in the development of an offer and in contacts.
  3. Tender preparation. The project officially exists in the form of a market consultation by the customer (invitation to tender), calling for an offer by the supplier.

Along with the evolution and expansion of project marketing concepts, project management also expanded over more and more industries. Instead of progressing parallel to project marketing, project management began to learn and adopt the customer-oriented approach of project marketing with the broader project timeframes. Project marketing researcher Artto (2007) stated, “the project concept must be redefined to include the activities from the very early pre-project phases to very late post-project phases.” Such an ideology recommends involvement in managing the project even before the project has been officially authorized and additionally managed after the project has been terminated and team dissolved. This approach with the broad time frame augments the project process unfolding the scope of project management outside the traditional realm described and mandated by the Project Management Institute.

The same group of project marketing researchers (such as Cova, 2002; Tikkanen, 2003; Skaates, 2003; Lecoeuvre-Soudain, 2006; Salle, 2002; Blomquist & Wilson, 2007) claimed that while project management deals with organizational and management issues, project marketing deals with sales and marketing issues of projects. The broader project timeframes discussed earlier in the works of Cova and Salle (2005) have diverse origins: customer-based approach to project management; supply chain management; and project strategic orientation.

This definition forms the basis of the marketing worldview toward project marketing. Project marketing focused on a customer-based approach helps build and maintain long-lasting relationships with key clients and stakeholders avoiding short-term opportunism. Project marketing also builds and maintains relationships between two projects with key customers and stakeholders.

Hence, Cova, Ghauri, and Salle (2002) continued to describe the project marketing process as being supported by the following key elements:

  • A marketing process in three phases: independent of any project/pre-tender/tender preparation;
  • The existence of three pertinent levels of analysis and decision: milieu/client/project;
  • The management of business and non-business actors;
  • The management of a supplier's rational position and functional position;
  • Risk or uncertainty as the driver of behavior of the actors; and
  • Solution as a means to create value for the customer.

Furthermore, this project marketing process was developed further by Lecouevre-Soudain and Deshayes (2006), as they extended the three phases of project marketing (Cova & Hoskins, 1997; Pluchart, 1998) to a four-phased process using case studies to demonstrate the complexity and dynamicity of project and project marketing process (Figure 2). These phases are as follows:

  1. Pre-project marketing: At this phase, the project does not exist yet, but the supplier anticipates rules and action range (competitors, market, etc.), identifies targets, and keeps in touch with the client.
  2. Marketing at the start of the project: Supplier starts with a co-construction of rules beside and within the network of influential relationships.
  3. Ongoing project marketing: The supplier, client, and subcontractors proceed with re-negotiation, modifications, follow-up, and meetings following one another with constant relationship exchanges until the end of the project.
  4. Marketing intends to create the conditions of a future project: Based on the process master of ongoing project, this corresponds to the possible periods in which there are no projects and to international project marketing's studies about “sleeping relationships” and enables to manage discontinuity in project business in preparing future projects.
Four Phases of Project Marketing

Figure 2. Four Phases of Project Marketing

Lecouevre-Soudain and Deshayes (2006) clarified the context within which project marketing is considered. In this case, project marketing necessarily depends on the marketing environment, project environment, and on the environment of decision that enables the realization of the project. Marketing implicates a whole range of relationship and transactional actions. This representation considers the vision of strategic marketing to which project marketing is connected, as project marketing focuses on the research and the development of projects and project opportunities

During the four distinct phases of project marketing, the firm attempts to adapt its offer to the client's project requirements with all the stakeholders participating in the decision-making process. The way the market is segmented conceptually and dynamics and complexity of the market is usually considered.

Further, efficient project marketing must consider all the periods of project marketing as stated by the first key element of the practice. Suppliers, therefore, must be involved in all the four phases of the project (Cova et al., 2002). We must also study the three distinguishing features of project marketing:

D – The discontinuity of demand for projects;

U – The uniqueness of each project in technical, financial, and socio-political terms; and

C – The complexity of each individual project in terms of the number of actors involved throughout the supply process.

We have seen the marketing perspective on project marketing. We saw that project has a broader definition encompassing customer focus, supply chain management, and strategic orientation. Project marketing from this viewpoint can be described using a four-phased model that includes pre-project marketing, marketing at the start of the project, on-going project marketing, and marketing intended to create conditions of future projects. These four phases can be investigated in detail and the individual activities in each phase depend on the industry sector and the individual company. However, generally speaking, Lecouevre-Soudain and Deshayes (2009) stated that the four phases could be divided into sub-phases.

Additionally, the concept of project discontinuity that deals with the period of silence and noncommunication between the supplier and the customer in between projects has been explored because of its extreme importance in customer relationship. Cova and Salle (2005) defined the different ways of limiting this project discontinuity. But, this is subject to discussion as different companies have different ways of resolving project discontinuity in project marketing. With its extreme emphasis on long-term relationships between customer and supplier, project marketing can be defined as the management of multiple projects from a supplier's viewpoint. This is the standpoint adopted by this research. However, we are here to study project marketing, and the study would be incomplete if we do not look at the project management viewpoint towards this field. The next section will deal with this aspect of research.

Project Marketing by Project Management Researchers

We looked at the definition of project by the marketers. Now we will look at how a project is defined by the project management research world. According to a group of project management associations such as the International Project Management Association (IPMA), Project Management Institute (PMI), and Association for Project Management (APA), and project management researchers (such as Cleland & Gareis, 2006; Turner, 1998, 2008) projects are temporary organizations established for the performance of complex, relatively unique business processes. The objective of using projects is to ascertain organizational flexibility within an organization and to reassure the quality of the results of the performed business processes.

This worldview adopted towards a project forms the basis of the perspective toward project marketing. Project management researchers (such as Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin, 2006; Gareis, 2002) described project marketing as a project management task, and hence, believe that project management encompasses project marketing. Therefore, the model looks different from the process model developed by the first group (marketers). According to this group, project management process aims at achieving effective performance, management of project boundaries, management of relationships of project-to-project context, reducing project complexity, and management of project dynamics. The fulfillment of these objectives will help realize project objectives. The project management process model figure explains this.

IPMA, PMI, and APM, and project management researchers (such as Cleland and Gareis, 2006; Turner, 1998, 2008) consider project management to be a process and project as a social construction. We will highlight the different definitions of a project as viewed by all these different sources of knowledge. A project is defined as a temporary organization for the performance of a relatively unique, short to medium, strategically important process of medium or large scope (Cleland & Gareis, 2006). IPMA describes a project as a time and cost constrained operation to realize a set of defined deliverables (the scope to fulfill the project's objectives) up to quality standards and requirements. Comparatively, PRINCE2 (Office of Government Commerce (OGC, 2009) described project as a management environment that is created for delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth Edition (PMI, 2008) described a project as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. If we try to analyze the different definitions, we will notice that a project is depicted as a temporary organization, an operation, a management environment, and a temporary endeavor by all the different sources of knowledge. This forms the perception of project management research world.

In all the definitions of a project, Kerzner (2005) noticed the increased significance of project management in society today. Now, we are in a project-oriented society where projects are goal-determined tasks and are perceived as organizations.

Even though the project management research world has a different perspective toward project marketing, they do agree with the marketing world that many projects are characterized by a high degree of content orientation but a low degree of marketing orientation. The members of the project organizations concentrate mainly on fulfilling the work packages. Cleland and Gareis (2006) continued to stress that the project organization does not realize the significance of appropriate communication. They refused to acknowledge that an appropriate communication of the objectives, content, and organization of the projects to the relevant project environments is also necessary to ensure the project success. When there is not enough project marketing, there is a risk that the project is not getting enough project management attention and that it is provided with inadequate resources. They also believed that the project marketing process would ensure appropriate management attention and minimize conflicts in the project and in the relationships with relevant environments. According to this group, project marketing can be defined as project-related communication with relevant project environments. The basis for the field of marketing can be found in the project environment analysis and development of the project culture. They emphasized the importance of understanding project environment analysis and organizational and project culture. They identified key components of project marketing as negotiating the fuzzy front end, structuring the project solution, managing stakeholder relationships and interrelationships of marketing and project management, and marketing in the project-based firm.

Project Management Process (Cleland & Gareis, 2006)

Figure 3. Project Management Process (Cleland & Gareis, 2006)

Figure 3, as described by Cleland and Gareis (2006), shows that the project management process begins with the project assignment and that it ends with project approval. It contains the sub-processes project start, project coordination, project controlling, project discontinuity management, and project closedown. All these processes are related to one another. Here, the following elements must be considered: project objectives, project scope, project schedule, project resources, project costs, project organization, project culture, and finally, the project context. In addition, according to Cleland and Gareis, the project marketing process starts after the project assignment and stops before the project approval phase. Therefore, the figure shows that project marketing is a part of the project management process.

During the first sub-process or the project start process, the pre-project phase information is transferred top-down along with the agreement of project objectives, project plans, project organizational design, team building information and activities, risk management and analysis, social construction of the project, development plans of project context relationships, initial project marketing, and creation of initial project management documentation (Turner, 2008).

Turner (2008) and Gareis (2002) described the project coordination process as a continuous process that ensures project performance, existence of sufficient information for project team members and continuous support for completion of work packages; thereby, showing that project coordination occurs throughout the project life cycle.

Cleland and Gareis (2006) illustrated the project controlling process by analyzing project status, redevelopment of the project organization and culture, reanalysis of project objectives, and redesign of project context relationships. This sub-process also executes project marketing actions.

As described earlier in the analysis of project marketing by marketers, the project management research world also defined project discontinuity. Project discontinuity, according to this group, may be described as a project crisis, opportunity, or phase transition. In addition, resolving this project discontinuity is another sub-process of project management process since in this phase a crisis, opportunity, or the need for transition must be explained and dealt with (Gareis, 2005).

Another sub-process that needs to be considered is that of the project closedown. The project closedown process objectives lie in the planning and completion of all the remaining project tasks, project evaluation, dissolving project team, initiation of post-project phase, and the transfer of the lessons learned to the permanent organization. Kerzner (2004) and Turner (2008) stated that project environment relationships are dissolved and project marketing actions begin to closedown at this phase. During this entire process from project assignment to project approval, project marketing is practiced in parallel to project coordination, as both project marketing and project coordination are continuous processes. However, here there is no mention of project marketing phases between two project activities; the marketers' group (see previous section) pointed out this essential phase where notably relationships and communication must be developed to identify project's opportunities and ensure a continuous activity of the company.

Gareis (2005) continued to describe project marketing as a very important process for the success of the project because project marketing focuses on the communication of the project. Project marketing, according to Gareis, focused on the communication of the project. Other functions of marketing, i.e., product policy, distribution policy, price and conditions policy, are covered by fulfilling the other project and project management tasks. Relationships exist between the marketing of the project initializing an investment, and the investment marketing to be performed in the course of the whole investment process. Investment marketing relates to the investment initialized by a project. In the case of an investment in product marketing, if the investment is in a new office building, than the benefits of this new building have to be communicated to the employees, customers, partners, etc.

Gareis (2005) further explained that acceptance for the performance of an investment is to be ensured in the project assignment process. In the project assignment process, the proposal team performs marketing activities to ensure a positive investment decision and to obtain the project assignment. The reasonability of the investment is also to be communicated during the project. The business case analysis can be used as an instrument in doing so.

Investment marketing, according to project management researchers Cleland and Gareis (2006), relates to the object, product, or service developed in the project. Marketing, especially product marketing, can already begin during the project, but will have to be performed mainly in the post-project phase. Often, it is not useful to dissociate product marketing from project marketing. For example, in event projects, such as the pm days, both product and project marketing objectives are realized by sending out announcements.

How then is project marketing described with respect to project management? Project management researchers, Cleland and Gareis, (2006) and Turner (1998) described project marketing as a project management task to be fulfilled in all sub-processes of project management. Project marketing is therefore rarely considered a work package in its own right in projects. Project marketing starts with the project assignment. The definition of a project for fulfilling a business process of medium to large scope represents an important marketing measure. Project marketing is especially important in the project start process. Initial information about the project and the project identity can be communicated. Subsequently, project marketing measures should be sustained at a relatively even level of intensity over the whole project duration and according to specific requirements. During ongoing project coordination, it is possible to perform informal project marketing at lunch, over a cup of coffee, in the elevator, etc., with all those interested in the project. During project controlling, the intermediary results of the project and changes in the project structures can be communicated.

Revisiting project discontinuity, Gareis (2006) explained project discontinuity and how while resolving it, the communication of the project discontinuity is a work package in its own right. He placed special emphasis on communication as being crucial in the resolution of a project discontinuity. In the project closedown, not only the project results but also the process of the project work and the contribution of the members of the project organization are to be communicated.

The project environment analysis as Gareis (2006) explained it along with the development of project culture form the basis of project marketing. The project environment analysis, according to Gareis, enables the differentiation of project-specific marketing strategies and concrete measures by environments (target groups of marketing). In developing the project culture the project name, a project logo, project slogans, and project-specific values are defined, which can be used in developing the instruments for project marketing. To ensure consistency, use the same font, the font sizes, and the project colors, etc.; these must be defined clearly.

Cleland and Gareis (2006) specified that all members of the project organization are responsible for project marketing. Not only the project manager but also the project owner team and the project team members are responsible for adequate communication of the project. Project contributors, who only work in the project selectively, do not bear responsibility for project marketing.

The members of the project organization require marketing competence. Project marketing is therefore not only an instrument but also a matter of attitude; it is part of the self-understanding, which is especially important for the project manager. This self-understanding requires adequate ethical standards, which rule out misinformation and manipulation in project marketing. The costs of project marketing are to be considered in the project management budget. Personnel costs as well as material costs for various project marketing instruments.

The project management research world, therefore, stresses that project marketing is especially important in internal projects. A central challenge is to ensure acceptance of the project objectives. In contracting projects, the degree of social complexity is lower than in internal projects. Professional project marketing, similar to the project marketing perspective by marketers, contributes to building up trust in the customers and in the partners. In reference and pilot projects, project marketing is combined with product marketing.

Successful projects are certainly easier to communicate than unsuccessful projects. As regards project marketing, attractive projects, e.g., developing a new product, can be differentiated from unattractive projects, such as implementing rationalization strategies in the company (Cleland & Gareis, 2006).

In spite of the differences in origins between the two perspectives—one that of the project managers and the other of the project marketers—both the approaches have common beliefs:

  • Constructive relationships between customers, suppliers and partners,
  • Projects are characterized by high degree of complexity,
  • Projects are also characterized by customer orientation,
  • Projects are characterized by process orientation,
  • Management paradigm encourages (dis-) continuous change,
  • Project is a social system, and
  • Human aspect of project business is as important as the traditional project management objects of consideration.

The project marketers emphasize that in the vast amount of ever-increasing literature on project management, minimal attention has been given to the issue dealing with marketing a project. They conjecture that this is because of two primary reasons. The first reason is that most projects originate within organizations, and hence, they might not need to be marketed. The second reason is that projects are constrained by time and the majority of the project management methods are catalyzed only once the project team has been authorized to begin work. Such marginal interest in marketing can be seen in the little or no work published in the realm of intersection between project management and project marketing.

Understanding project marketing is only the first step to realizing its relevance to project management practitioners. The goal of our research is to examine the current roles and responsibilities of project and/or program managers and gauge their familiarity with the concepts of project marketing. This in turn will help us understand relevance of project marketing activities to the project management practitioners.

Interaction Project Marketing—Project Management

Comparison between Project Marketing and Project Management

Cova (2005) stated that conceptually, project marketing and project management have existed for years as separate disciplines. Both of these disciplines have developed individually and independent of each other. His work aimed at bridging the gap between the two disciplines on six key points, thus structuring a conceptual timeframe common to project marketing and project management. Table 2 shows Cova's (2005) comparison between project management and project marketing.

Table 2. Project Management vs. Project Marketing

Disciplines Project Management Project Marketing
Key Points
The project Temporary organization Transaction
Characteristics of projects Specific time frame and objectives Discontinuity between one project and another
Project cycle Begins with request for proposal Begins outside any project opportunity
Focus of the approach Resources are dedicated to enhance the relationship inside one project Resources are dedicated to maintain the relationship between two projects
Stakeholders Internal and external actors that can have a positive or detrimental effect on the project's development Relationships between business and non-business actors in the milieu embedding the project
Project origin Mostly given Given or jointly constructed

Stakeholder Analysis in the Interaction Between Project Marketing and Project Management

Leouevre-Soudain, Deshayes, and Tikkanen (2009) reviewed project marketing phases and conducted a case study to provide a detailed description of each of the phases, roles, and responsibilities of the different individuals involved in these phases and the interaction between project management and project marketing practitioners. They reiterated that project marketing enables the identification of four phases in the course of a project: a “before the project” phase; an “upstream of the project” phase; a “during the project” phase; and an “after the project” phase. Concerning the protagonists between them, these marketing researchers emphasized that these four phases bring into play, according to the variable intensities of the phases, six principal variables that have a critical impact on the activity of project marketing: collaboration, relation, joining, training, trust, and communication. Thus, they established that during the project, a milieu is built, which is defined by a field of cooperation, a network of actors, shared representatives, and a system of co-accepted rules.

Lecouevre (2009) stated that the interactions could be complex but the roles and responsibilities of the protagonists involved in the project activity are usually very well defined and observed.

Describing the characteristics of the individual phases, Lecouevre-Soudain et al. (2009) stated that the pre-project phase is concerned with actions of relational marketing intended for a project on behalf of company X for company Y. They claimed that this phase aims at the future competence of project management of X in a context of managerial partnership of the future project. The start of the project phase begins with evaluation of the competences and the resources on both sides of companies X and Y from the management point of view. Additionally, this phase monitors the co-writing of the specification and conditions of the future invitation to tender, definition of the future perimeter of the project management. Both this phase and the preceding one require that the actors of management and the actors of marketing exchange, cooperate, and negotiate but remain distinct. Then, these marketing researchers continue further to explain the next phase that is during the project phase. In this phase, the project team is installed and is often structured to improve duality management/marketing of the project. This phase also participates in control of the project from time of its preconception until the realization, the production, and the beginning of its sale. The fourth and last phase, after the project phase, promotes management and relational marketing (dissolution of teams) of the end of life of the project, evaluation of the success of the project, and new relational prospecting: “solution selling” and/or new “creative offers of projects.”

Thereafter, Lecouevre–Soudain et al.(2009) looked at the interaction between project management and project marketing and the positioning of the stakeholders in these two fields. The principal objective in terms of project management in the active process going from phase 1 to phase 2 (from before project to upstream of the project) is to build an official flow chart in which the project leader and the project team are defined in support with the organization of the project by supplier X. On the other hand, the key objective in terms of marketing is to mobilize the adequate resources for the flow chart and to convince customer Y of the quality of this flow chart within the triple constraints of quality/cost/time. The researchers point out here that the role has been reserved for project management and that project management now intervenes in the middle of phase 2. This is the phase where the co-construction of procedures and conditions of purchase and realization and presentation of the project organization takes place.

Lecouevre-Soudain et al. (2009) also stated that during phase 3, i.e., project realization, customer Y will impose an act of strong management. Whereas in the last phase, the objective is to achieve and end the project while ensuring its renown in order to facilitate an effective search of other project prospects.

This shows that project management and project marketing are closely inter-related and inter-linked with the protagonists playing a very crucial role in making the project successful. However, this interaction has not been given a practical dimension. This concept has not been investigated outside the realm of the research world. The question of the significance of project marketing in the practitioner world and its relevance to the project management practitioners remains unanswered. Our literature review depicted our conceptual framework that showed how our project management worldview was contrasted by our project marketing worldview. Both these perspectives belong to different schools of thought and yet have an overlap in their principles. Let us continue to explore this overlap and establish the importance of project marketing as a practice in the practitioner world with the research methodology section.

Research Methodology

Research Philosophy

Partington (2002) described management research as research that fundamentally deals with production and knowledge associated with management practices. Partington asserted that out-research orientations are linked to our philosophical preferences, which are often inherited and influenced by our cultural settings and traditions.

The philosophical stance adopted by this research is that of critical realism. Realists believe that reality exists independent of observations (Bhaskar, 1975). Critical realism claims that some of our data accurately represent external observations while our other data does not accurately represent any external observations. Bhaskar, one of the primary founders of critical realism, continued to explain that realists aim at triangulating data provides a holistic understanding of a phenomenon rather than using a singular methodology only.

Because of our realistic philosophical perspective, we chose mixed research methodology in order to answer our research questions and test our hypotheses. The starting point of our research is going to be the research problem. The research problem to be investigated here is based on the relationship between project marketing and project management. Prior research on this subject exists and yet project marketing, as we stated earlier, is not known among practitioners today. The mixed method approach in our research intends to help provide a practical dimension to this research theory.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods help answer the research problem as they complement each other. We will conduct qualitative and quantitative data collection in parallel in order to solve our research problem.

Qualitative Research Methodology

Denzin and Lincoln (2005) described qualitative research as a method of inquiry used in many different academic disciplines not only originated in the social sciences but also in market research and other contexts. Qualitative researchers aimed to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, and when. Hence, this research focuses on small samples rather than large random samples.

Qualitative data emphasizes people's “lived experience” and relates well to the meaning people place on events, processes, and structures. The researcher is able to deduce perceptions and assumptions from such data and then connect these meanings to the social world around them (Van Manen, 1977). We, therefore, use qualitative data collection in our research in order to understand how project managers with several years of experience in project management interpret project marketing and its practice in their project management career. As a part of qualitative research, we will rely on semi-structured interviews for gathering this particular information. The research questions described in the following will depict a starting point in this research study.

Research Questions

The primary research questions are as follows:

1.  What is project marketing and what are the different perspectives on project marketing?

2.  What is the relevance and importance of project marketing principles to project management practitioners?

This study is cross-sectional aiming at understanding project marketing and its relationship with project management. The initial research questions were posed in order to introduce project marketing and its connection to project management. The results of these questions will help define project marketing and analyze it from different perspectives. Project marketing is a concept with minimal awareness in the practitioner world. The questions will result in two different perspectives: marketing and project management. Therefore, we take this theory and investigate it in the industry by interviewing project managers with several years of experience in project management. The next set of research questions help answer the relevance of project marketing phase model and characteristics to project managers.

3.  How are the project marketing phases related to project management?

4.  Which of the characteristics of project business related to project management?

5.  How are the stages of project marketing process connected to project management?

The next three research questions help measure the awareness and interpretation of project marketing. Answering these questions will help further establish the connection between project marketing and project management.

6.  What is the level of awareness of project marketing among project managers?

7.  How do project managers interpret project marketing?

8.  How do project managers utilize project marketing theory?

Qualitative Data Analysis -- Grounded Theory

Method of data collection was 50 semi-structured interviews as mentioned earlier. This is a method of research used particularly in the social sciences. Compared to a structured interview that has formalized and limited set questions, a semi-structured interview is flexible, allowing new questions to be introduced during the interview based on the feedback provided by the interviewee. The interviewer in a semi-structured interview generally has a framework of themes to be explored and then it is subject to revisions during the interview itself.

However, the interview was based on keeping the research questions in mind. The research questions form the basis of the interview questions. It is generally beneficial for the interviewers to have an interview guide prepared, which is an informal “grouping of topics and questions that the interviewer can ask in different ways for different participants” (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). Interview guides help researchers to focus an interview on the topics at hand without constraining them to a particular format. This freedom can help interviewers tailor their questions to the interview context/situation, and to the people they are interviewing (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002).

We will use grounded theory qualitative research methodology since it is a systematic approach in the social sciences emphasizing generation of theory from data in the process of conducting research. Strauss (1987) established that grounded theory is a research method that operates almost in a reverse fashion from traditional research and at first may appear to be in contradiction of the scientific method. Rather than beginning by researching and developing a hypothesis, the first step is data collection through semi-structured interviews as mentioned previously. From these collected interviews, the key points are marked with a series of codes, which are extracted from the text. The codes are grouped into similar concepts in order to make them useable. From these concepts, categories are formed, which are the basis for the creation of a theory, or a reverse engineered hypothesis. This theory will be used as a basis for future research in this topic.

Quantitative Research Methodology

The quantitative research method involves analysis of phenomena and their inter-relationships. This is done by utilizing statistical methods to collect data based on hypotheses. Further, it is defined as collection of numerical and statistical data that will be employed in conjunction with qualitative data collection as described in our paradigm earlier. Thus, in accord with the objectives of this research and its underlying philosophy, a quantitative research method is adopted to provide a practical dimension to project marketing theory.


It is to be reiterated here that project marketing has been studied by marketing researchers (such as Cova, 2002; Tikkanen, 2003; Skaates, 2003; Lecoeuvre-Soudain, 2006; Salle, 2002; Blomquist &Wilson, 2007) prior to this research study. All the prior research study has been qualitative and theoretical. Therefore, the aim of this study is to test hypotheses on project marketing in order to conduct quantitative research method.

The primary hypotheses below are based on the primary research questions 1 and 2:

  • HφProject marketing principles are not relevant to project managers.
  • H1: There is a relationship between project marketing and project management.
    • img H1a: Project marketing is a subset of project management.
    • img H1b: Project management is a subset of project marketing.
    • img H1c: Project marketing and project management are distinct disciplines with an overlap.
    • img H1d: Project marketing and project management are distinct disciplines with no overlap.

It is essential to understand how the project marketing phase model can be applied by project managers in the industry. We reiterate here that Lecouevre-Soudain and Deshayes (2006) extended the three phases of project marketing (Cova & Hoskins, 1997; Pluchart, 1998) to a four phased process using case studies to demonstrate the complexity and dynamicity of project and project marketing process. These phases are as follows:

  • Pre-project marketing,
  • Marketing at the start of the project,
  • Ongoing project marketing, and
  • Marketing intended to create conditions for future project.

Additionally, project marketing proposes an extended project timeframe that accommodates the above project marketing phases. The secondary hypotheses aim at exploring the relevance of important project marketing principles to project managers and they are as follows:

  • H2: Project marketing phase model is relevant to project managers.
  • H3: Project managers agree with extended project timeframe proposed by project marketing theory.
  • H4: Project managers focus on building and maintaining long lasting relationships with key clients and stakeholders.
  • H5: Project managers focus on the customer follow up phase that occurs after the project has been delivered enhancing customer satisfaction and key account development.

Quantitative Data Analysis—SAS Procedure

Data analysis must be conducted to fulfill three primary objectives: (1) get a feel for the data; (2) testing the goodness of the data; and (3) testing the hypotheses developed because of the literature review. A frequency distribution of the nominal variables of interest will be obtained and visual displays through histograms/bar charts will be provided in order to get the fundamental, descriptive statistics of the collected data. It is also practical to calculate the mean, standard deviation, range, and variance on the dependent and independent variables. Sekaran (2003) explained the importance of testing the goodness of the data. Reliability and validity of the measures can be tested using factor analysis. Reliability can be measured using the Cronbach's alpha, which is a reliability coefficient that signifies how well the variables are correlated. Finally, hypotheses need to be tested using regression analysis. The matter of question here is the relationship between a dependent and independent variable, and hence, regression analysis would analyze this relationship statistically.

SAS is a text-based programming language that can automate statistical and mathematical analysis on large amounts of data. Additionally, SAS provides tools to graph the data and the descriptive and analytical statistics conducted on the data in order to understand the basis of the data and test hypotheses. Therefore, SAS tools will be employed by this research study in order to conduct quantitative data analysis.


This research study aims at understanding project marketing and its relationship to project management. The mixed research methodology will ensure that both qualitative and quantitative angles will be adopted in order to investigate the topic. Prior research has been conducted aiming to bridge the gap between both the disciplines, and hence, provide a practical dimension to the qualitative world of project marketing. Qualitative analysis of the semi-structured interviews and the quantitative analysis of the web-based questionnaire will provide a holistic view of the subject matter under investigation. This paper is a proposal to the dissertation in progress and is void of actual results but is rich in methodology and literature review analysis that forms the foundation of the topic of discussion.


Blomquist, T., &Wilson, T. (2007). Project marketing in multi-project organizations: A comparison of IS/IT and engineering firms. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(2), 206–218.

Cleland, D., & Gareis, R. (2006). Global project management handbook: Planning, organizing & controlling international projects. London: McGraw-Hill.

Cova, B., Ghauri, P., & Salle, R. (2002). Project marketing—beyond competitive bidding. Chichester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Cova, B., & Hoskins, S. (1997). A twin-track networking approach to project marketing. European Management Journal, 15(5), 546–556.

Cova, B., & Salle, R. (2005). Six key points to merge project marketing into project management. International Journal of Project Management, 23(5), 354–359.

Dinsmore, P., & Cabanis-Brewin, J. (2006). AMA handbook of project management. New York: AMACOM.

Gareis, R. (2002). Professional project portfolio management. Paper presented at IPMA World Congress, Berlin, Germany.

Kerzner, H. (2004). Advanced project management: Best practices on implementation. New York: Wiley.

Kerzner, H. (2005). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. New York: Wiley.

Lecoeuvre-Soudain, L., & Deshayes, P. (2006). From marketing to project management. Project Management Journal, 37(5), 103–112.

Lecoeuvre-Soudain, L., Deshayes, P., & Tikkanen, H. (2009). Positioning of the stakeholders in the interaction. Project Management Journal, 40(3), 34–36.

Lindlof, T., & Taylor, B. (2002). Qualitative communication research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Office of Government Commerce. (2009). Managing successful projects with PRINCE2 (5th ed.). Norwich, United Kingdom: The Stationery Office.

Project Management Institute. (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (4th ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Skaates, M. A., & Tikkanen, H. (2003): International project marketing: An introduction to the INPM approach. International Journal of Project Management, 21(7), 503–510.

Strauss, A. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Tikkanen, H., Kujala, J., & Artto, K. (2007). The marketing strategy of a project-based firm: The four portfolios framework. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(2), 194–205.

Turner, J. R. (1998). The handbook of project-based management. London: McGraw-Hill. YIN

Turner, J. R. (2008). Gower handbook of project management. Surrey, United Kingdom: Ashgate.

Turner, J. R., & Keegan, A. (2001). Mechanisms of Governance in the Project-Based Organization. European Management Journal, 19(3), 254-267

Turner, J. R., & Müller, R. (2005). The project manager's leadership style as a success factor on projects. Project Management Institute, 36(1), 49–61.

Williamson, O. (2005). Transaction cost economics and business administration. Scandinavian Journal Management, 21(1), 19–40.

© 2010 Project Management Institute



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