How to Prepare a Marketing Audit to Shape Your Marketing Strategy
Much of the success of any business is riding on its marketing strategy. It may have abundant resources, with a management team composed of brilliant and innovative minds, and teams of hardworking employees diligently and passionately performing their tasks. However, the business will never be able to grow, and succeed in achieving its organizational goals if it does not have a marketing strategy in place.
The growth of a business is closely linked to how its image is developed and presented to the market, and how it is able to establish a presence in that market. To accomplish that, there is a need to work on creating and increasing its brand awareness, which inevitably leads to increased profitability and accelerated growth.
The million dollar question is: what goes into the development of a marketing strategy? Businesses devote a lot of time and resources in crafting a strategy that will help propel the organization toward its goals. Several factors are considered, and more than one or two processes are undergone. One of these activities or processes is a marketing audit.
In this guide, we explore 1) what is a marketing audit, 2) the importance of marketing audits, 3) the different components and types of marketing audits, and 4) how to perform a marketing audit.
Guidelines for a marketing audit
- Providing management with an in-depth look at the business’s marketing strategy and performance, with particular focus on how to plan, implement and manage marketing activities.
- Pinpointing marketing efforts and practices that are thriving and successful, as well as those that are less so. Think of your business as a rose garden: it needs some occasional pruning in order to stay healthy. With a marketing audit, you can determine which parts of your marketing strategy are yielding fruit, and which are not.
- Don’t know where to start with a marketing plan? That’s easy. Trust your audit. Its systematic and structured approach will never let you down when it comes to your marketing plan.
- If you perform regular audits, you can catch mistakes and errors before they cause any irrevocable damage to your company’s reputation, or to your bottom line.
When we say marketing audit, that’s something of an umbrella term. Businesses typically examine three major components during a marketing audit: the external environment, the internal environment, and the current marketing strategy. Within these three categories, seven identified types of marketing audits exist.
- Macro-environment audit . This type of audit examines the external factors that might affect the marketing performance of the company, such as demographic factors, economic factors, cultural factors, environmental factors, and political factors. For the most part, these are factors that influence the consumer market: their beliefs, hobbies, or any social trends that could affect the company’s marketing performance.
- Task environment audit. This type of audit also focuses on factors outside of the company, but still closely associated with marketing activities and operations. While it does take some factors of the consumer market into account, it is slightly different than a macro-environment audit. A task environment audit will assess the size of the industry the company belongs to, identify competitors, and examine the company’s relationship with distributors and retailers.
Elements of a Successful Marketing Audit
1. List All Your Marketing Goals
Marketing is all about meeting goals. Whether you want to bring in new leads, increase market share, or build brand awareness, every marketing action should have a goal in mind. If you want to understand how well your marketing is performing, you need to compare your current results with your goals. Thus, the first step of the auditing process is to identify your goals.
2. Build Customer Personas
Next, you should focus on your customers. What do they want from your business, and how different are their needs? For instance, a cookware company may sell to newlyweds, expert chefs, and new hobbyists. Each of these customers has a different perspective on why they’re using your products. The messages you send to each of these subsets should be different.
3. Name the Competition
You probably know your main competitors, but do some research. Are there any new players who’ve entered your industry recently? What do your competitors offer? Have they changed their method of operation since the last time you looked into them? List all of your competitors, along with their strengths, weaknesses, offerings, pricing, and anything else you consider relevant.
4. Describe Your Offerings
Now you can begin to look inward. Just like you examined your competitors, you should objectively analyze your business offerings. What do you offer your customers? Describe it in detail, from features and drawbacks to distribution methods.
5. Understand Your Marketing Assets
Zooming in further, explore what you have within your marketing department. You should develop a comprehensive catalog of everything your marketing department runs and creates, from your website to brand materials. If you have data from previous audits, you should pull that out, too.
It’s not enough just to name each webpage and social media account. You also need to collect information about how each one is performing. The results of this process will deliver a snapshot of your marketing department’s performance. The more information you gather now, the better your analysis—now and in the future.
6. Analyze Your Results
It’s time to explore the data you’ve collected. You should have a massive collection of information about your business and how your marketing is performing. Examine that data for trends. Where is your advertising strongest? Where does it need improvement? Are there any accounts or initiatives that don’t seem to be worth your marketing efforts? Marketing audit tools like SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and five forces analyses are good ways to help you understand the data. Writing a general overview of your current marketing status may also help.
7. Develop an Action Plan
You’ve found your strengths and weaknesses, you’ve done your competitive analysis, and you understand the customers you’re targeting. Now you can develop a plan to guide your marketing into the future. It should have four parts:
Set a date for the next audit as soon as you complete your current one. A reasonable audit period is every 6 to 12 months, depending on the size of your company. You can determine an annual or semi-annual schedule right away.
What are the components of a marketing audit?
We can split marketing audits into four clear categories to get a better understanding: digital marketing and branding, outreach and advertising, customer service, and collateral. Splitting up your marketing audit in this way helps you to assess all keep elements of your business.
|Audit component||What to look at…|
|Digital branding and marketing||Email marketing, social media, website, videos, photography, fonts, colours, and brand logo|
|Outreach and advertising||All advertising efforts, influencer campaigns, sponsorships, partnerships, and press releases|
|Customer service||Internal processes and paperwork, customer experience, reviews, and your staff members|
|Collateral||Any piece of media that is used for the promotion of your business, i.e. promotional clothing, coupons, flyers, pamphlets, brochures, menus, and so on|