Follow this simple 4-step marketing audit and create a powerful brand fast.
Last updated: Oct 23, 20184 Comments
If I asked you to perform a marketing audit for your business, you’d probably roll your eyes and yawn.
I guess financial audits are commonplace, but marketing audits?
Nah. They’re not really necessary, are they?
Actually, they’re essential.
A marketing audit can help accelerate the growth of your business immensely.
The purpose of this article is to explain why marketing audits can be so powerful. Because, one you understand the importance of a marketing audit, you'll be desperate to do one.
And that's where this piece also comes in handy.
Because I also wanted to give you a framework that you can use to complete a marketing audit of your own. That's right, by the end of this post, you'll have a free marketing audit template to use.
You'll understand what the process of a marketing audit looks like...
... and you'll be shocked at how simple they are.
I’ve divided this article up into different parts. So, if you don’t have time to read it all, you can just click the section that interests you the most.
Let's start with a marketing audit definition. A marketing audit refers to the act of reviewing and analysing a company’s marketing objectives, strategies, activities and results.
Broadly speaking, the aim of a marketing audit is to ensure that a business is performing as desired.
Marketing audits can be carried out internally, or by using an external agency that specializes in audits.
So, what makes for a good marketing audit?
Effective marketing audits that deliver tangible results all share a number of key characteristics.
First of all, they must be comprehensive.
The point of marketing audits is that they’re supposed to examine every aspect of a company’s marketing philosophy.
That means looking at what a business is trying to achieve, what marketing strategies it’s using and what level of success it’s enjoying.
That’s the only way any real insights can be gathered.
And, because marketing audits should be thorough, they also need to be performed in a methodical way.
Don’t do your investigating on the fly.
Planning is everything.
It’s better to use a marketing audit template and work through each area of a business slowly, step-by-step.
Clearly, good marketing audit should also be honest and impartial.
They’re not an exercise to stroke egos or sweep issues under the carpet.
Marketing audits are supposed to change things for the better.
Does that mean that you should hire an external company to run a marketing audit for you?
Just ensure that whoever is performing your audit is unbiased and with a good eye for detail.
Lastly, marketing audits should be done periodically.
Industries don’t stand still. Whether we’re talking about technology or consumer behaviour, things are always changing.
As such, you should aim to have a marketing audit as often as possible.
If your profits are soaring, don’t rest on your laurels.
If your bottom line is steady, try not to be satisfied.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, don’t waste any more time.
Many businesses don’t perform marketing audits.
I’m not sure why. Perhaps they’re put off by the word ‘audit’. It sounds boring, doesn’t it?
However, the reality is that assessments are a healthy thing.
Everything in business must be evaluated, adjusted and, if necessary, abandoned.
Here are 8 reasons why marketing audits are vital:
Reason 1: To identify which strategies are working and which aren’t.
Perhaps you’re spending too much on PPC. Maybe that guerrilla marketing campaign earned you loads of brand mentions.
Whatever the result, good or bad, marketing audits often reveal interesting insights.
Reason 2: To highlight potential opportunities for growth.
Business owners will know that it’s all too easy to lose perspective.
Companies that focus too heavily on the day-to-day stuff might be missing a trick. Marketing audits bring the bigger picture into focus.
Reason 3: To become more efficient and cost-effective.
To put it bluntly, marketing audits will save you time, money and effort.
Reason 4: To create a more accurate buyer persona.
Never assume who your customers are. Maybe it’s time to confirm your target audience, what they like and where they hang out.
Reason 5: To maintain a competitive edge over any rivals.
What if your marketing audit could tell you how to outperform a competitor, both now and in the future?
Reason 6: To see which tools are needed to accomplish targets.
If you knew that you could increase your ROI by adding a certain tool to your marketing arsenal, you’d get it, wouldn’t you?
Reason 7: To evaluate short and long-term goals.
Are you delivering against your goals?
Are your goals even relevant? If not, why not?
A marketing audit can provide startling clarity.
Reason 8: To better understand your product or service.
A cold, hard look at the relationship between your customers, your marketing and what you’re selling is sometimes incredibly beneficial.
Now it’s time to talk about the actual list of tasks involved in a marketing audit.
The point of this section is to essentially give you a marketing audit template and a process that you can use and apply to your business,
Answer our set of questions to create a report that will help your company grow. The questions are split into 4 sections:
- Market analysis
- Marketing activity analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Goal analysis
- Who is buying your product or service?
- What is the demography of your usual consumer?
- How, why and where are they buying what you’re selling?
- Is your product or service fulfilling their needs?
- What value are you providing?
- Are your marketing messages relevant to your typical customer?
- How do you predict your industry will develop?
- How are you planning to market in the future?
Marketing activity analysis
- What marketing channels are you currently using?
- How much are you spending on marketing?
- What is your ROI from each of your marketing strategies?
- Are you communicating your USPs effectively?
- Do you get much engagement with your audience?
- Are there any marketing activities that you’d like to test?
- What is working well for you?
- What isn’t working well?
- How does your product or service compare to that of your rivals?
- How do your customers perceive your brand in relation to your competitors?
- Are your competitors more successful than you? If so, why?
- What are the strengths of your rivals?
- What about weaknesses?
- Are there any specific gaps in the market you can exploit?
- How loyal is your target audience?
- What are your short-term business goals?
- What are your long-term business goals?
- Is your product or service priced and positioned appropriately?
- Are your business goals achievable given the state of your market?
- Are they achievable given your positioning?
- Are the achievable given the level of your competition?
- Would your goals be more reachable if marketing hit more relevant targets?
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you should be able to clearly see what your current marketing strategies are, whether they’re working and what you need to do in the future.
Are you ready to perform your own marketing audit?
There’s no doubt that if done properly, a marketing audit can be time consuming and challenging.
But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, is it?
And remember, it could transform your business.
Carly Fiorina, former executive, president and chair of Hewlett-Packard, summed it up well when she said:
The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.
The biggest and most successful companies in the world continually assess their performance.
They use marketing audits to help shape their future.
Marketing audits explain why brands bring out new product lines, only to ditch them soon after.
And equally, they highlight profitable opportunities.
Want an example? Then take Walmart, for instance.
Why would they stop selling Amazon Kindles, but add several deserts to their Patti Pie product line?
These decisions are based on information; they type of information that only reveals itself after a thorough marketing audit.
Here's another example that highlights the importance of carrying out a marketing audit.
You’d expect iPhone 7 adverts to highlight new features, but why does Apple specifically choose to communicate its improved camera, better battery life and a waterproof nature?
It’s because Apple has done its homework.
The iPhone has been around for a while, but thanks to their approach, Apple has enjoyed record-breaking sales.
I guess companies who perform marketing audits might not refer to what they do as auditing, but that's not important.
Whether it's a tactical review, a planning meeting or a brainstorming session, if the common marketing audit questions are asked, the results will be the same.
Call it a marketing audit. Call it something else. It doesn’t change anything. Marketing audits are an exercise in gathering intelligence.
There are loads of advantages for carrying out a marketing audit and no disadvantages.
You've got a simple marketing audit template to follow now, which you can execute today.
So, on that note, I’ll leave you with a quote from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series of books:
I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.