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A curious thing that happens whenever our firm begins conversations with a potential client about taking over their content and digital marketing is the initial pushback we receive. Generally, unless something recently went sideways with their some aspect of their campaign, their initial response is always to say, “Actually we have our marketing handled”.
This isn’t surprising. It’s hard running a business and if something isn’t broken, it’s not usually in a decision maker’s mind to want to go in and start changing things. The part where things get curious though is when we ask when the last time they audited their marketing campaigns was. If we are meeting with a small to mid-size business, the answer almost every time is they haven’t. This is profoundly interesting to me.
As we all know most companies conduct regular financial audits. It just makes sense, right? You have to make sure you are hitting sales goals, you want to make sure your different cost centers are within budget and you want to make sure that no bad actors are absconding with company funds.
But why don’t they conduct a regular marketing audit? Frankly, I’m puzzled by this. If there were ever a segment of businesses that should more heavily depend on regular marketing audits, it’s small and medium-sized businesses.
They need these audits to shed light on what activities are working and what activities are not working as well and measuring this against expenditure and then overall ROI. The marketing audit is a must-have part of the entire process.
A comprehensive review of a company’s marketing and communication really helps a business understand where it’s heading from a marketing perspective. By reviewing issues such as your customers and your target audience; your competitors; the market place in general and your internal situation; you will be more informed about the success of previous marketing activities.
A marketing audit analyzes your business objectives and understands what it is the business is trying to achieve providing leaders with the opportunity to make more informed decisions on their future marketing direction.
With this in mind, today I want to explore Marketing Audits and why your business needs to regularly perform them.
How does a marketing audit help a business meet its goals?
A thorough marketing audit provides a benchmark for monitoring future marketing activity and highlights recommendations to improve the efficiency and performance of your company’s marketing activity.
A marketing audit arms business leaders with invaluable customer and market insight, vital to helping them set realistic business objectives.
Here are the key elements you should include in your marketing audit:
Step 1: Conduct a SWOT Analysis
The critical first step of any marketing audit is to look at the strengths and weaknesses of your company from your customer’s point of view. The key is to understand what the strengths are that are also important to your customers, versus what your business thinks you are just “good at”.
Another important area is to understand the weaknesses and gaps in your business and where this affects customer relationships and market opportunities. These opportunities and threats need to be considered to understand how you can maximize on the missed opportunities and minimize any negative effects.
Step 2: Perform market research to understand your customers and your prospects
As you conduct your marketing audit, you should also research your customers and prospects to understand why they buy from your company. You also though should research why people might choose to not buy from your company. It is really useful to understand what your customers like and do not like about your business so you can make changes, reposition yourself if necessary and maximize your potential growth. It also helps in the product development process, customer experience and branding campaigns that position your products and services to potential customers.
Step 3: Study your competitors
Of course, you always want your company to stand out in your vertical market and have a value proposition. In order to do ensure this is happening, you need to study your competitors. This is where you need to put on your “detective hat” and do some reconnaissance.
If your competitors are brick and mortar businesses, send people in to act as shoppers to gather intel. If you are in the online realm, do a technical audit of your top competitor’s websites, learning how well they rank on Google, what their domain authority is, what keywords they are ranking for, etc.
You need a full scop of what your competitors are doing so you can ensure that your business is doing it better and bringing a solid value proposition to the table.
Step 4: Review your current marketing process
VERY IMPORTANT: This is perhaps the most important piece of your marketing audit. You can’t have a fully evolved, realistic marketing audit unless you closely review the marketing initiatives your business is currently involved in. You need to be comprehensive:
- What resources does your company have for marketing & sales?
- What type of marketing material, brochures and flyers do you use to promote your company to prospects?
- What promotional vehicles do you exploit (e.g. website, collateral, direct marketing, content marketing)
- Do you do tradeshows, seminars or other speaking related events?
- What kind of shape is your marketing technology stack in? Do you need better tools?
- What shape is your website in? Is it modern, up to date and easy to navigate?
- What social media channels is your business using and how engaged are you currently with your followers across these channels?
- What do your customers and prospects think of your company? How do they engage with your team?
Once you’ve performed this audit, it will then be possible for you to truly evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing and draw sharp lines to what is working and what is not. Once you know that, you can then determine if having a conversation with a new marketing partner is a warranted effort or not.
It does take time, but there may be a way to get this done without a ton of effort on your part. For instance, when we are interested in working with a new brand and run into the, “Thanks but we’re all set” wall and find out they haven’t done a marketing audit in quite some time (or ever), if they are important enough for us to want to do business with them, we’ll offer many times to prepare an analysis for them, at no charge.
It just all matters what kind of agency approaches you and whether they are looking at you as someone they want to partner with for the long haul, or simply treat you like another paycheck.
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