No marketing plan remains static. It is imperative that you can conduct at least an annual assessment of your marketing direction. This annual review will ensure you are achieving your expected results.
Our discussion on marketing audits was recently featured in the Spring 2014 edition of Inside Small Business, discussing the need and outcomes from an annual marketing review.
What is a Marketing Audit?
A marketing audit is designed to provide a review of your marketing activities, with the aim of identifying cost savings and new opportunities. A Marketing Audit supports the direction of your marketing and business plans, by measuring performance against your goals and suggesting refinements where needed.
Market conditions change and a marketing plan needs to be regularly reviewed to remain relevant. Business directions can also change and the marketing audit ensures an alignment between operations and marketing.
The end result ensures efficiency savings by aligning your marketing direction with your business goals.
Undertaking a marketing audit
The first phase of a marketing audit is a self assessment. Consider your current operations and whether this is consistent with your expectations. Compare your sales figures against forecasts, as well as other factors, such as profitability and staff involvement.
Next, consider the marketing tasks that you undertake. What marketing activities do you undertake and why? What return are you gaining from these activities and what resources are required to deliver these?
A marketing audit explores all aspects of the marketing mix, for example:
- How are you pricing your products or services?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Who are your target markets and why?
- Do you use the right intermediaries to support your products or services?
- How are you reaching your target markets?
Each of these aspects contribute to the overall marketing approach undertaken by your business. For example, a high value service that caters to a market niche, is going to have a completely different marketing approach to a generic mass marketed product.
The Marketing Context
Understanding these components is essential to conducting an effective audit. One of the most important queries to answer is whether your marketing activities reach the right target markets. If you are not connecting with the right markets then you will need to reconsider your marketing activities.
Similarly, you need to ensure consistency across all forms of marketing. An inconsistent approach will create confusion and make it difficult for your target customers to understand your value proposition.
External advice can often identify inconsistent messages that may not be immediately obvious, or to assist in determining the right target markets.
Your marketing self assessment and the corresponding marketing audit enable you to make refinements to your marketing activities. Actions that may have been relevant one year ago, may no longer be needed, or you may need to respond to actions being undertaken by competitors.
A Marketing Audit lets you make informed decisions that will strengthen your marketing approach and uncover new opportunities for growth.