Product Marketing Rule #15: Marketing Checklists Ensure Success
Product Marketing Rule #15 from the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Product Marketing, was written by Jenny Feng, CMO, Marketeers Club
In the absence of a solid process, relying on memory can be costly. A checklist is a safety net.
The genesis of checklists can be traced back to 1935. A small crowd watched the Boeing Model 299 speed down the tarmac, lift off briefly, then suddenly stall, turn on one wing and crash in a fiery explosion. The investigation found “Pilot Error” as the cause. No one was more qualified than Major Ployer Hill to fly the test plane. However Hill was unfamiliar with the aircraft, and had neglected to release the elevator lock prior to take off. His mistake cost three lives and Boeing lost most of the U.S. Army aircraft contract to its competitors. This incident resulted in the first pilot’s checklist—a simple approach to making sure that nothing is forgotten during takeoff, flight, landing, and taxiing. With the checklist, other pilots managed to fly 1.8 million miles without another accident. Variations of the checklist are still in use today.
In a different industry, Peter Pronovost, a medical director at the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore created a checklist comprised of five simple interventions to eliminate catheter-related bloodstream infections (CR-BSI) in the ICU. His checklist prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved $2 million in cost.
So, if checklists save lives in aviation and in the ICU, imagine what it could do for your business.
A successful product marketing manager is either armed with an MBA degree, years of experience or in most cases, both. She/he has the innate ability to effectively multi-task, organize, and attend to a myriad of details. Nonetheless, even the most competent and experienced managers make mistakes or skip important steps under pressure to meet multiple deadlines. In the absence of a solid process, relying on memory can be costly.
A checklist is a safety net that expedites what we heard in Rule 14. It is a method to ensure that the simple stuff gets done right the very first time. MarketeersClub.com recently conducted an interview with more than a dozen product marketing managers. One of our questions was: What would you like to change in your daily job? The top three responses were:
- Get things done in less time.
- Have more time for creative thinking and long-term planning.
- Acquire a larger budget so I can do more to grow my business.
At the end of the day, it’s about reducing the lead time it takes to complete projects (speed to market) and reducing the cost to maximize profit.
Checklists may be created in many areas of a Product Marketing Manager’s role and responsibilities—from pricing to distributions and promotions. As an example, a marketing promotion checklist might include the following:
- Define campaign objective and target audience.
- Assign campaign codes to track redemption.
- Make sure the promotion program complies with State and Federal Laws.
- Provide operations with forecast/anticipated unit lift from the promotion efforts so they ramp up production and build inventory.
Continuing on with the promotion example, think back on your last few promotional campaigns:
- How long did it take to create the campaign?
- How many rounds of revisions does it typically take to “get it right?”
- What have been some of the costly mistakes in real dollars (pre or post campaign)?
When creating a checklist for a product promotion, or any other product marketing tasks, consider the following three points:
- Start a list with what you already know (this could be a team or individual effort).
- Add to the list as you complete additional projects.
- Make a commitment to utilize the checklist every time.
The bottom line is: invest the time to create checklists customized to your category needs. The few minutes it takes to refer to your checklist will ensure that your projects are executed effectively and in a timely matter. You will get things done more quickly, leave your office earlier, and still be at the top of your game.