Do you Believe in the Power of a Checklist?

By Stacie Susens, Associate Director, Client Services

I recently read "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande for our company quarterly offsite last week. Going into it I was expecting the book to be more about time management and the ways checklists can help you get the most out of your day. Yawn. In some ways I was right; yet I was happily surprised to learn that I was discounting this simple concept and the power that it can have.

Mr. Gawande shared stories on how checklists are key to establishing processes for the simple to complex tasks we deal with on a day-to-day basis. He vividly walked us through how the simple concept of a checklist can help us ensure we cover off on the vital yet routine tasks so we can spend our brainpower on the strategic parts of our job.

Not only did he share stories, they were tales of emergency rooms, operating rooms, flying, building skyscrapers, etc. According to Mr. Gawande, checklists were saving individual hospitals millions of dollars a year. You have to stop and think - if this is working for surgeons and pilots, how could this not work for marketers?

I'm on the account management side of client service at Resolution Media. Every day I deal with client communication and ensuring my team is delivering the best client service possible. Thinking through the various items that come across my desk on a given day - I realized that I too have used checklists to help me get through specific tasks or initiatives.

For instance, I've used a daily checklist to ensure we are on track with the vitals - how are we trending to goal? Are we on pace with budget? I have also used checklists for larger initiatives, such as strategy creation. I have even used checklists when dealing with the unfortunate issues that can arise with search campaigns. I do not consider an issue resolved unless I can answer these 5 questions: What happened? How did it happen? What was the impact on the campaign? What did we do to immediately correct the issue? What are we doing to ensure this does not happen in the future?

However, I've realized there are tasks that still don't have checklists and that the checklists I'm currently using can be continuously enhanced through outside input and also ensuring they are utilized. I'm curious to hear from other marketers out there. What type of checklists have you used or created? Can you quantify the impact they have had?


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