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Sometimes I ask marketers about what processes they use and it’s a good test to see who works in a big company and who works in a small one. Big company types either lament that their processes are hopelessly outdated or they list off exactly what they do with their chests puffed out in pride. Small company marketers roll their eyes and say that they don’t need any processes and that “procedures” just weigh them down when they are trying to get work done. I think the word “procedure” is part of the problem.

Whenever I hear the word “procedure” I think of a surgeon trying to remove a body part (perhaps one that I am quite fond of). But do “processes” and “procedures” have to be that onerous? Do they have to be these painful things that require manuals and compliance officers and corporate governance?
I don’t think so. (You thought I’d say yes?)
I think that we need to stop thinking about “procedures” and “processes” and start thinking about “checklists.” They are really the same thing, but somehow “checklists” seem more nimble and lightweight—somehow more friendly and not so stultifying. You can still use your brain with a checklist instead of mindlessly following the procedure manual.
I think our attitude is what is important. Let’s take a checklist attitude to execution so that we do things the best way we can think of and we do them consistently every time. Just don’t call them procedures.
I am starting an experiment. I am going to post a few checklists to see if people find them useful (and to get feedback on how they could be improved). I’ve started with just one today, a checklist for sending marketing e-mail. Let me know what you think—I have ideas for a few more.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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