The importance of the marketing audit

Over the years, I have become used to many businesses incorrectly defining marketing.  I have seen Marketing Officer posts advertised but when you read the job description it is clear that the business is actually in need of a sales team manager or a graphic designer.

I also regularly attend business networking groups where individuals promise to ‘sort’ the marketing of small businesses.  When pressed further these businesses are pushing services to manage social media accounts or to optimise search engine listings.

In fact, there are a plethora of such operators pushing their wares onto small businesses, often with little or no qualification in marketing or digital marketing and no professional indemnity through organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Activities such as web design, graphic design and search engine optimisation are linked to marketing and can be important to the promotion of a business but they should not be carried out in isolation.  It is crucially important that these activities are coordinated as part of an organisation-wide marketing plan.  Entering into promotional activity or defining your digital presence without a defined strategy could be a waste of a small businesses scarce financial resources.

A critical part of any strategic marketing plan is the marketing audit.  This is the process of assessing your businesses position in the market place and in the wider economy.  Only when such an audit takes place can you define your strategy and amend your marketing profile. Only after a marketing audit can you decide what promotional activity to undertake and what are the most appropriate channels for that activity.

A digital strategy is no doubt important to the vast majority of businesses but it should not be carried forward at the exclusion of more traditional aspects of the promotional mix.

Carrying out a marketing audit is not just the process of designing a new strategy; it is also the process of assessing existing marketing strategy and ensuring that the activities used in that strategy are achieving its stated goals.  It is the process of assessing your activities against recognised marketing metrics.  For an audit to be effective it must be:

  1. Comprehensive – covering all aspects of your marketing mix and all activities associated with that mix.  There is no point is auditing your website in isolation from your other promotional activities as all these should be aligned.  There is no point using conflicting strategies as this will likely lead to consumer cognitive dissonance.
  2. Systematic – It must be a sequential diagnostic process.
  3. Regular – An audit should not be carried out as a panic reaction to bad performance.
  4. Independent – There has been significant debate about who should carry out a marketing audit.  There is significant agreement amongst marketing academics that auditing should involve external consultants who can provide independent objectivity.

Many small businesses carry out marketing mix activities with little or no thought as to how they are going to assess the outcomes of those activities.  Often the only aspects measured are financial in nature.

Philmus Consulting can help your business to carry out structured marketing audits which allow you to properly configure your marketing activities; to make the best use of marketing budgets; and to maximise your business’s potential.