Last Updated on 4 March 2008

“Measure twice, cut once,” is one of my favorite proverbs. Obviously it is a great rule for a carpenter. Cut the wood improperly and the piece is ruined. It’s faster to double-check than to make a mistake.

As a retail marketer this rule of thumb comes in handy.

Measuring twice means making sure you’ve thought of all the things that could go wrong before you launch. It means making sure you’ve thought of all of your different audiences… not just the customer, but the salespeople as well. Do you have a “Plan B” in case the project or program does not go as planned? What if the project or program is much less or much more successful than anticipated… do you have a plan to deal with either situation?

I also like to use the term “make it bulletproof” in these situations. Are you sure nothing’s going to penetrate the plan? That it’s made of Kevlar? Can you work with someone who can help find any flaws in your approach.

There is philosophy that having a high percentage of information, say 60% or 70%, is enough to make a decision. This is true for strategic decisions, where you will never have a clear and complete picture, and action is required.

Many of the decisions we make as marketers are more tactical, and deserve more than a “fairly complete” picture of the facts. I’m suggesting that you not only have a full picture, but also a double-check prior to implementation.

The whole purpose of these proverbs and pithy sayings is to use them as reminders. A reminder to take the extra time now to avoid potential disappointment or disaster later.

A word of clarification though, be careful of what they call “analysis paralysis.” That’s a situation where you spend so much time trying to be 120% certain of the facts, never execute, and lose your opportunity. That is not what I’m suggesting…

With measure twice, cut once you understand your situation, put together your plan… and before you implement… make sure nothing has changed since you put together your original assumptions.