Come back with me to the year 2000, when the Y2K bug was a recent memory, and the phrase “rockstar developer” was still being used without irony. Joel Spolsky, a software engineer who would go on to found Trello and Stack Overflow, published a 12-step test to help determine the quality of a software engineering team.
Though The Joel Test is almost 20 years old, it’s still known among software developers due to its continued relevance and usefulness. It’s a short checklist, with a series of simple “yes” or “no” questions, that can give us a sense of whether a software team follows best practices.
As a marketer, I’m in envy of The Joel Test. In some ways, the output of a marketing team is easy to measure: clicks, conversions and revenue, for example. In other ways, marketing is still responsible for things that are a lot harder to measure: branding, press coverage, positioning and messaging, pricing and so on. And marketing is more complicated than ever before, with new channels, techniques and technology popping up every day.
Wouldn’t it be useful to simplify? To have a quick checklist you can run through to see if you, as a marketer, are running an effective operation?
Here are a few ideas for just that. Let’s not get too creative yet. We’ll call it “The Joel Test for Marketers.”
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