How to Be Organized, on Track, and Set Up for Success

List paper with pencil

The 5 lists every marketer should have before launching their next project or campaign

By Peter Decoteau

Most marketing initiatives involve lots of moving pieces.

Between interdepartmental collaboration, media assets, various platforms, shifting deadlines, and the ever-present need to justify your investment, starting a new project can be daunting. Lists are an essential tool for project managers in any field as a way to break out the key elements of a project into clearly defined and digestible items and tasks, making it easier to get off the ground and stay on track.

“Keeping everything you’ve ever wanted to accomplish in every area of your life on one list is a huge mistake. Make a different list for each project you work on so you don’t feel overwhelmed or confuse tasks.” —Paula Rizzo, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed1

In her book, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed, Paula Rizzo takes a deep dive into how lists can be used in both your work and personal life to stay organized and get things done. While Rizzo suggests a single list for each project, we tailored five lists specific to physical therapy private practice lists to help your team prioritize, organize, clarify goals, set expectations, track performance, keep focus, and create forward momentum in your next marketing project or campaign. No small feat when you’re starting with nothing but ideas and ambitions! Even if you don’t yet have the benefit of a team behind you, or if you’re working on smaller projects, using some or all of these lists can set you up for marketing success.

List 1: Your Goals and Measures of Success

This first list is vital because it turns the intangible spark of an idea into realistic and measurable objectives. High-level goals and how success is to be measured often goes unspoken when launching a marketing project or campaign, but connecting with key collaborators and working together to list them out can help prioritize and get everyone on the same page. This is especially important when working across departments or with external partners, for which “success” may initially mean something very different. Typically, when putting this list together, you want to start specific and get broader as you move down the list. For example, if you are looking to launch a marketing campaign with the stated goal of increasing your doctor referrals, specifically with new or underrepresented practices, your measures of success may look like this:

  1. 10 new referring doctors by the end of Q2
  2. 15% overall increase of MD referrals year-over Q1-Q2
  3. 30 face-to-face meetings with MDs who average 2 or fewer monthly referrals by the end of Q2

Keep in mind while setting up these measures that you should have in place systems to track them. This can include data reporting through your EMR database, working Excel documents, tracking measures through your website’s analytics, or even having prepared questions to be asked by your front desk.

List 2: Key Platforms

With the vast array of marketing platforms available nowadays, determining the right venues in which to focus your resources is one of the most important things you can do. The main factors that drive this decision should be the goals you’ve set and the audience you’re trying to reach. Setting up parameters for yourself regarding the scope and depth of your platform usage will save you time and money by creating the most effective message-to-audience channels. This means that your list may include a number of different platforms, or various applications of just one or two.

For example, if your goal is to increase requests for appointments from the “weekend warrior” population, your key platforms will likely have to have the capability to be highly targeted to geographic area, demographic, and interest. Therefore, your list may include Facebook’s ad platform for targeted content promotion along with your general Facebook page content, and Google’s search ad platforms broken out into Smart Display ad groups and TrueView video ads.

On the other hand, if your goal is to increase overall patient volume by strengthening brand name awareness within populations most likely to need physical therapy, you may have a more varied list that includes radio ads, print placements, e-blast sponsorship, and Facebook ads. While both the audience and reach are broad in a campaign like this, it’s still important to identify your key “personas” and target them as much as possible by exploring the outlets—radio stations, print publications, email newsletters, etc.—they are most likely engaging with.

List 3: Partners and Roles

Oftentimes, the person planning and executing a project is at the center of its orbit, with other partners and team members connected to that individual on an “as needed” basis. Many times, these partners may not even be aware that there are other key contributors!

This setup can create more work for the project manager, as it requires them to be the conduit through which all information passes, and as a result it can slow down the workflow. It also stifles innovation and collaboration by limiting communication and the group’s understanding of the project scope.

By listing out and sharing your team’s roles and responsibilities, you give collaborators a comprehensive vision of the project while clarifying the part each person will play in its success. In your list, make sure to include name, title, contact information, the 3–5 key functions of this role, and the ways in which this person may work with other team members. As a bonus, creating this list will reveal who really needs to be included in the project, and who can put their efforts elsewhere.

List 4: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are the primary data points you should be tracking during your project or campaign to make sure you’re heading in the right direction, or if you need to shift gears. With the incredible amount of information available nowadays, it’s easy to find yourself wrapped up in data that has little to no bearing on your goals. By determining your KPIs at the start, you set clear, specific, and quantifiable gauges of your performance, which will save you time in your reporting while keeping larger goals and objectives front and center.

A good example of the importance of KPIs is exhibited in Google Ads’ reporting function. If you’ve ever run a report from Google’s ad platform, you know how complicated it can get, and how much potentially useful information is available. Some would say too much information. . . When running a campaign that utilizes Google Ads, make sure to pick just the top two or three data points to focus on based on your project goals; otherwise, you may miss the forest for the trees.

KPIs will always depend on the project goals; a campaign aimed at creating awareness may focus on impressions and click-through rates, while one aimed at increasing new patients through online appointment requests should track goal conversion rates and average cost-per-conversion. This same principle can be applied to any marketing campaign that requires regular performance tracking and optimization—so, all of them!

List 5: Project Master Task List

In his book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande takes principles he learned from his years of experience in the medical field and extends them to project and process management. One of his key points is that “the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.” In other words, systems and processes have gotten so complicated they can’t possibly be understood and executed correctly by a single person. Gawande highlights checklists as a way to make sure things are done properly, by the right people and in the right order.

The project master task list is where Gawande’s checklist theory becomes essential. Given the inherent complexity of most marketing initiatives, which often require a unique combination of interdependent skill sets and deadlines, having a master list broken down by task group and person(s) responsible keeps everyone on track and clear about roles and next steps.

Gawande describes two types of checklists that are similar in format but distinct in function: the “Do-Confirm” list, which requires that contributors perform a task and then check it off, and the “Read-Do” list, which has them carry out tasks chronologically as they are checked off.2 While the latter is more appropriate for complicated systems and processes (he uses the example of airmen using a flight checklist for B-17 bombers), the former tends to be more useful in marketing, allowing for multiple contributors to perform their assigned tasks separately while moving in the same direction.

These master task lists have the built-in benefit of creating further project organization, typically breaking out jobs by department or deadline, and are often indispensable reference points for regular team meetings. While these five lists offer high-level perspective and directives, the master task list is where the rubber hits the road.


1Rizzo P. Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Successful and Less Stressed. Berkeley, CA: Viva Editions; 2015.

2Gawande A. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. London, England: Profile Books Ltd; 2012.

Peter Decoteau

Peter Decoteau is the director of marketing at Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers (PTSMC), Connecticut’s largest private practice physical therapy company. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2018, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

Are you a PPS Member?
Please sign in to access site.
Enter Site!