Do I need a marketing audit?
If you’re asking the question, the answer is probably yes.
There are several situations in which a marketing audit can be useful:
- as a regular check up on marketing activities,
- as a starting point for a marketing plan,
- or as a reality check if you’re not sure how well your marketing is working for you.
These audits are useful for gaining a good perspective on your marketing activities. Remember in college, when a class didn’t make sense until you were studying for the final and it all came together? Or the “what was I thinking” moment you have when looking back on an old relationship? Those are some of the kinds of insights you can gain from a good marketing audit that allows you to see long-term activities all at once.
Ideally, every firm makes a marketing plan yearly, and updates it quarterly and even monthly. Regular marketing audits are performed just as frequently. However, we know that for most businesses in the real world, this scenario is closer to a dream than a reality. It’s a dream worth striving for, but probably not one we’ve attained.
Audits help you spend marketing dollars wisely
A regular marketing audit, however, can help you make the most of your marketing dollars. It organizes your marketing activities into a single document that explores what you’ve been doing, what you’ve been spending on these efforts, and what return you’ve been getting for your investment. This is all important information to have on hand before starting or updating your marketing plan so that you can make the most informed decisions and maximize your marketing ROI.
What if you’re starting your first official marketing plan? A marketing audit is the document that will inform your decisions, and without it your plan will be at a disadvantage. Yes, it takes some time (or money) to assemble the document, but that’s all time (or money) that you’ll save when it comes to actually defining your strategy and developing your plan—and definitely time (or money) that you’ll save by choosing the best marketing activities to most efficiently meet your goals.
A marketing audit can also help you when you need to prove a return on investment for your marketing efforts, or if you just need to make sure you’re still on target to meet your goals. Maybe you are simply seeking peace of mind—confirmation that you’re on the right marketing path. Maybe you have a reason to double-check the efforts of your marketing department or agency (we hope not, but it happens). Or maybe you’re trying to make a decision about new hires or partners and need to find out what areas need the most growth. In any case, a good marketing audit is a solid start.
How often do you (realistically) need a marketing audit?
Our favorite answer: “it depends.” It depends on how well you’re measuring your regular marketing activities. If you’re constantly measuring and tweaking your marketing efforts, you probably don’t need a formal audit as often as a company that doesn’t track its activities, or only tracks some of them.
At Uncork-it, we suggest an annual marketing audit even for our clients who measure every marketing endeavor they make. This helps gather all the information into one place for big-picture marketing planning. Ideally, this would take place just before updating the annual marketing plan. Luckily, the marketing audit is fast and easy to compile for firms that already have most of the analysis they need!
For those who do not measure every marketing effort, or do not have access to those measurements, we suggest a marketing audit (either full or partial) at any point when major marketing decisions are going to be made. Decisions like continuing with a certain agency, or drastically changing your marketing mix. And, of course, before creating your annual marketing plan.
To help you understand our process, or get you started on your own, we have made an example marketing audit template available.