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A marketing audit is an effective tool for both a marketer and an organization, because it allows you to determine and evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s marketing efforts. The process is simple enough, and it starts with an independent auditor running through all of the strategy, objectives and policies of a marketing department with a fine tooth comb. They will question and analyze all of the methods being used to achieve the company goals, and help give you a base understanding of what’s working, and what needs to be improved. If you’re new to all this, try this course and master the skills you need to be a fantastic marketer.
Today, the business environment is in a constant state of change. New technology, new platforms and new trends make it even harder for traditional marketers to keep up, even if they have been working in the industry their entire careers. This is why marketing audits are required (and required frequently), as they give you the insight you need to refine your marketing plan, and stay ahead of the competition. If you’re interested to learn a little bit more about the changes digital marketing is bringing to businesses have a read through this post and ensure you’re keeping up with the competition. Marketing audits are a great way to evaluate your efforts, and are fantastic tools to use as you put together your marketing plan, roll out your marketing strategy, and determine any future opportunities in the marketplace.
When you put together a marketing audit, it focuses on three core aspects of your business. They are the fundamental considerations you need to make when you’re building your final marketing plan, and include:
- The external environment you are operating within
- The internal environment that exists within your organization
- The evaluation of your current efforts on the marketing plan
Let’s run through each of these in a little more detail.
When an auditor looks to the external environment their main focus is on evaluating the customers, and going through every single detail. The goal is to determine the customer needs, and establish how your organization is currently meeting all of these, for all of your customers. Look at every aspects of the customers behavior, and make a model of their decision making process. once you understand this in detail,. you can make sure your marketing plan aligns. Surveys are a fantastic tool to give more insight into a customer’s perception of particular products or brands, so give your consumers an incentive and reach out to them for their inputs. The only issue you need to be careful of if you’re doing the marketing audit internally is to make sure you are impartial in all of your conclusions.
The next step is to look at your customer base and segment the market. From here you need to determine how your customers are best targeted, especially when compared to your organizations position in the market. Because of the changes in technology, sometimes the best way to reach them is in a new method, that you have little experience in. If this is the case, this course covers everything you need to know to become effective in your online marketing efforts, and reach an even wider audience. Don’t ever forget the competition, and gather as much information as possible on each player in your industry. You want to know their market share, profitability, any weaknesses and strengths, as well as their long term plans and future strategy. Don’t just look at the established players, but keep an eye on new entrants as well. With the rate of change that exists today, even new companies can have stellar success and be a long term threat. The best way to find this information is to simply ask your customers their thoughts, but you can also reach out to industry or trade associations who will be able to give their advice as well. Finally, consider all of the substitute products which may be hurting the demand for your own products, and investigate if there are any suppliers with a large influence on the industry.
When you are evaluating all of the information, keep in mind the cultural aspect of your target market. Education levels and standards play a big part in how your marketing strategy is best targeted, alongside religion and personal beliefs of your customers. Lifestyle is a massive part of the consumers buying pattern, and any particular customs must be accounted for. This is critical for international organizations, where they may have little knowledge about the cultural nuances within the countries they are operating. This all forms part of the demographics, which plays a key role in a marketing audit. Consider the growth of distribution over the last twelve months, as well as the age and evolution of the available technology and information systems.
Within the external economy, you also need to be wary of the unemployment rate, inflation and interest rates, as well as economic growth (or decline) and household disposable income. The political landscape needs to be evaluated, especially if there are particular laws or regulations in place that may hinder your development – or alternatively provide an opportunity if the restrictions are relaxed. Once you’ve got all of this information together, you need to analyze and determine what this all means for your company, and remember to be impartial in your analysis.
This section of a marketing audit focuses on all of the company resources which are available. Consider your labor force, available finance, as well as specialist equipment, and any other factors of production that are applicable. Look at each member of the marketing team in detail, and evaluate the teams structure, efficiencies, effectiveness and how well they collaborate with other internal functions within the organization. Walk through the process steps they take when they are planning a new marketing strategy, and evaluate its accuracy compared to best practices, as well as considering what the actual results have been. Within this you need to look at the product mix, any new products in development, as well as pricing strategies and methods of distribution.
The final phase is the study the current marketing strategy in detail. You should go into detail on the objectives the company is targeting, the strategies being followed, and the plans that have been made to achieve the goals. Break down the specific parts of the marketing mix that are being used, and continue on to look at the allocated budgets, staff numbers, training available and the development opportunities available within the marketing team. All of these are important to the overall marketing audit, as well as figures on market share, revenues and profit margin, cash flow or debts that are owing.
Tools to help the audit
To conduct the most effective audit possible, there are a number of analytical tools that will help you get all of the facts, and guide you through the process. Here’s what will help you out:
- SWOT Analysis
Standing for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats” the SWOT analysis is the perfect tool to help you analyze both the internal and external environments. This allows you to look at places your product or strategy has an advantage, as well as certain elements you can exploit to your advantage. It also gives you a heads up on where your weaknesses lie, and discover any hidden threats within the marketplace. If you’ve not done this before, check out this course and get guided through the SWOT analysis, as well as many other great analytical tools.
- Five Forces
Another great tool for analyzing your external environment is Porter’s five forces. This helps to give you a snapshot overview of the attractiveness of your industry, and the competitors operating within it. By attractiveness the analysis actually estimates profitability, so it’s a great tool to use when you are looking at new opportunities and developments. This is more targeted than a SWOT analysis, as it looks at individual products and businesses, instead of the marketing strategy as a whole.
A marketing audit isn’t focused on looking at a business’s current operating activities, the whole goal is to review each critical area that is crucial for a company’s success. This includes both the internal and external factors, and what is currently being done with the marketing strategy. When you take all of the conclusions you reach in a marketing audit, and use them to refine and improve your marketing plan, that’s when your business will grow, and become even stronger. So get started on your own marketing audit, today!