A No-Disasters Checklist!
When I read the review of “The Checklist Manifesto” by Dr. Atul Gawande, I ordered it on my Kindle.
Three minutes later I was totally hooked—engrossed in graphic descriptions of hospital emergency rooms where patients’ lives depended on split-second decisions by health care professionals operating as a team and guided by mental checklists. If they ignored a step or failed to communicate, the patient would assume room temperature—forever.
The author’s argument is simple: Checklists in this complex, high-tech world are indispensable.
It occurred to me that some years ago I created a checklist for direct marketers, and that it was currently residing on my Web site, www.dennyhatch.com. Given my newfound interest in checklists, I decided to revisit it. The thing was OK as far as it went, but woefully inadequate. So I reworked it.
I believe the revised and expanded checklist that follows will be useful to the 20- and 30-something newbies entering this business who are handed decision-making authority beyond their experience.
It's also invaluable to us addled seniors, who tend to forget things.
As an old geezer, I've seen some major screwups in my 50+ years in marketing. Two come to mind—both off-the-page ads:
- In the 60s, a full-page ad offering membership in a book club ran in a major weekly magazine at a cost of roughly $20,000. It contained a huge omission: Nowhere in the coupon or in the body of the ad was there an address to which an order could be sent, nor an 800 number.
- In a full-page mail order ad, some nitwit got the idea that a black coupon would be an attention-getter. So the black coupon ran with white type and white lines indicating where name, address, city and state should be filled in. But you can’t write on a black coupon unless you have a pen that dispenses white ink. Duh.
A simple, free checklist would have caught these blunders for which the designer, creative director and account executive of the agency should have been summarily fired.