The word audit has a bad reputation. The mere mention of an audit often makes employers and business owners quake. There are lots of types of audits performed in the workplace, and of all these, a marketing audit might be one of the most helpful tools a business owner has. Without regular, honest inventory-taking, you can’t measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and can’t see where you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Marketing audits don’t have to be complicated to be effective, but thoroughness is a prerequisite. Here’s how to start:
- Collect year-to-date current sales and marketing reports. Make sure they include goals/objectives, budgets and timetables and see how your most recent results line up against these parameters. Where are you meeting sales targets, missing sales targets or exceeding earlier forecasts?
- Look at developments in your industry/business. Have there been major developments in technology – or in the economy – that have affected your marketing efforts and your sales? Are you using up-to-date (and affordable) marketing and sales tools? Does your sales/marketing team have the technology needed to work effectively together and to reach and influence potential customers? If not, what is preventing you from doing so? Cost of new technology? Employee skill sets?
- Ask your employees how optimistic they feel about sales for the next few quarters. Get specific feedback regarding their assessments of:
- Your company’s strengths
- Untapped opportunities
- How does your use and adaptation of new communications and marketing technology stack up against your peers? Are you keeping up with new developments in your industry sector or are you lagging behind your competitors?
- Talk to your oldest and newest clients. Get their assessment of your marketing efforts. Find out how satisfied they are with recent goods or services provided by your firm. Based on what they heard/read/were told before making a purchase, were their expectations met? If not, what was responsible for the gap between expectations and reality?
- Ask vendors, suppliers and business partners for their opinions of your company and the efficacy of marketing efforts. Determine how you stack up against your competitors.
Look at what you’ve discovered about:
- The reputation/image of your company (brand)
- Effectiveness of your marketing messages
- The perceived quality of the products/services you offer
- Results of sales/marketing efforts (against objectives and goals set earlier)
- Which tools yield the best sales leads and which yield the best conversion rates
- Efficiency, effectiveness and cost efficiency of your major marketing tools:
- Online marketing campaigns
- Database management
- Social media
- Advertising (traditional and Internet)
- Promotional events
Armed with the information on how your business is doing right now, you can see where you’re meeting your objectives, which marketing tools are contributing cost-effectively to these objectives and which need changing or omitting.