Q1 is a great time to stop, take a close look at your marketing and communications efforts, measure and reflect. Even the most robust and savvy in-house marketing team may find it challenging to review their own marketing program. It’s difficult to bring objectivity to our own decisions.
Enter the marketing audit — an opportunity to ask an independent party to evaluate all facets of your company’s marketing and/or communications efforts. It’s an important step in the marketing planning process. As either your very first step, or as a next step before investing more in your marketing efforts, investing in an audit is a smart and efficient way to deliver greater marketing ROI.
Why should I pursue a marketing audit?
Just like your CPA or business consultant will audit your financials, a marketing audit is an independent evaluation by a qualified marketing consultant or agency. The goal is to understand what’s working and what’s not working. A comprehensive marketing audit will:
- reveal any positioning issues that might be hindering your overall success
- reveal any internal issues impacting your marketing or communications success
- refine your marketing and communications strategies to align with your current goals
- analyze the effectiveness of your current marketing or communications tactics.
What are the benefits of a marketing audit?
The two major benefits of a marketing audit include:
- the opportunity to gather up-to-date feedback from a marketing professional who brings objectivity to the findings, and
- the insights on which to build a strong foundation for all future marketing plans and execution.
What factors will be analyzed as part of a marketing audit?
The marketing audit can certainly be customized to be as exhaustive as your company demands, but there are a few essentials to make the audit meaningful:
- Positioning review – an audit of your brand and all available external materials that communicate your brand (logo, identity materials, sales letters, ads, etc.). The goal is to reveal any areas that might cause confusion or mistrust with your audience(s).
- Competitor review – an audit of your key competitors’ brands and any readily available marketing materials. The goal is to understand their strategy and unique selling proposition as a basis for differentiating from your competition.
- Online presence review – a review of your website, blog, social media presence and online advertising. The goal is to assess alignment with your brand positioning and effectiveness at engaging your prospects in a variety of online environments.
- Marketing communications plan review – a review of your most recent marketing plan or tactics. The goal is to provide an opportunity to review your marketing and communications efforts and any available data on effectiveness.
The deliverable of a marketing audit is a written findings report that provides the marketing consultant or agency’s findings in the key areas above, as well as their expert perceptions and recommendations for next steps.
When should you conduct a marketing audit?
A marketing audit will deliver valuable feedback at any stage of your business’ life cycle. If you think of the marketing audit as a precursor to taking a bigger marketing dive, often the timing is ideal in Q4 as you begin planning your marketing budget. But any audit is better than never auditing!
Armed with the knowledge your team receives from the audit, your team can proceed with marketing planning, budgeting and execution with confidence that you’ve maximized every aspect of your marketing program.
Learn more about marketing strategy and planning.