3 extremely crucial factors to manage marketing and comms projects perfectly

The quality, time and cost trade-off in marketing and communications projects

Do you know the project management triangle? If not, you should familiarise yourself with it because the model will help you set priorities for your various marcomms campaigns communications and marketing projects.

The model covers three critical constraints that every project manager has had to confront: quality, time to produce and cost.

The premise of this triangle is that you can’t have all three of these outcomes – you can only pick two, so the third option will suffer.

All project managers in marketing and communications have confronted these dilemmas:

  • Do it quick and cheap, but sacrifice quality.
  • Do it slow, cheap and well, but sacrifice time.
  • Do it fast and fabulous, but sacrifice budget.

You may ask: “Well why can’t I do it fast, fabulous and cheap? What if I’m not willing to sacrifice quality?”

Quality shouldn’t be a trade-off

You can shoot for the moon and hope to land among the stars, achieving something better than you initially expected. That’s generally a good strategy.

Yes, quality doesn’t need to be a trade-off. However, you will need to redefine the scope of your project and will still need to give something up. Therefore, if the quality isn’t a trade-off, the scope of your project certainly will be.

Below are some hard questions, which apply to any project you may be working on, that you will have to ask yourself:


  • What is business critical versus optional?
  • What is my primary goal?
  • What is my secondary goal?
  • Do I have any other goals?
  • Will the priorities change as we go along?


  • What resources do we have?
  • How flexible is our budget?


  • What are our deadlines?
  • How fixed are they?
project management

If possible, communicators and marketing professionals should try to be flexible with their projects. Most professionals would say it is better to start small, work in iterations, and develop and build onto a project. It might not be possible to do all the time, especially if you want to do a big splash marketing campaign. However, often such initiatives are risk-taking ones that can climb or fall, succeed or fail; for some of us, we like the adrenaline rush.

Why working with pro freelancers makes sense

Let’s face it, you can’t do everything, and you can’t be a pro at everything. With your marketing and communication projects, there is always some trade-off you need to take into account.

Sure you could try to do something yourself, but it might take you a long time and the end result could be just okay. Alternatively, you could outsource the job to a pro, who could deliver a top-notch result quickly, allowing you to ‘get it to market’ faster.

In the former situation, the trade-offs could be time and quality. In the last example, you would need to spend a little budget to get what you want. However, in the end, you might have a higher return on investment due to a better outcome.

Types of freelancers

In the gig economy, there are many different types of freelancers. You have your specialists and generalists, junior versus senior pros and last but not least you have those that have impeccable, above-average credentials. The trade-offs for outsourcing projects to these different personas is time, money and quality.

If you need a specialist, for example, they’ll cost more, as generally, they tend to be in high demand. The quality of the work should also, in theory, be better.

When hiring a generalist instead of a specialist, the person might not understand the subject matter and may need to do some research beforehand. Thus, the generalist is likely to take more time to deliver on a project. However, the generalist also has an advantage that the specialist may lack. They can apply what they learned across various disciplines to the job at hand. The result could be even better than you expected because they see the project with fresh eyes.

If you are recruiting based on experience, again it will come at a higher price range because that person, in theory, should also have more expertise in their area and should also deliver a better result. People generally charge for their experience. However, similar to the generalist versus specialist debate, a junior person could have a thirst for learning, an appetite for success and a fresher, less influenced mind to create something outstanding. The junior person could potentially outmatch their more experienced peer.

With any communication or marketing deliverable, you need to ask yourself:

  • Do I need a generalist or specialist?
  • Am I looking for a junior (inexperienced) or senior (experienced) professional?
  • Do I want the best-of-the-best or a ‘just good enough’ content creator? In other words, what are the credentials of the people you are hiring or outsourcing?

Whatever the type of freelancer you are recruiting, it’s always a good idea to check out their previous work and references. Does their work meet the standard and quality you want? Also, are their references proof of their skill and reliability? If no or doubtful, you should probably pick somebody else.

The different personas in the gig economy


  • Cost: Cheaper to hire
  • Knowledge: General knowledge and skills. Knows a little about a lot (a jack of all trades but a master of none).
  • Trade-offs: Quality, time


  • Cost: More expensive to hire
  • Knowledge: Specific in-depth knowledge and skills. Knows a lot about a little (very good in a specific area but could be clueless about others).
  • Trade-offs: Cost


  • Cost: Cheaper to hire
  • Knowledge: At the beginning of their learning curve. Inexperienced – still learning their trade and profession.
  • Trade-offs: Quality, time


  • Cost: More expensive to hire
  • Knowledge: In the middle of their learning curve. Experienced – have done a lot (practice makes perfect).
  • Trade-offs: Cost


  • Cost: Expensive
  • Knowledge: Outperforms others. High intelligence quotient.
  • Trade-offs: Cost


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