No matter the size of your company or your marketing budget, a periodic marketing audit will provide needed perspective on just how effective and efficient your marketing plan and spend is working. Some companies may opt to perform the audit internally while others may appreciate the objective perspective of an outside agency or vendor. Regardless of who performs the audit, here’s the top 5 reasons why you might need a marketing audit.
- Your company has been around more than 5 years and you’ve never had a marketing audit. If that’s the case, chances are you need one. Audits are most beneficial every 3-5 years depending on your product and industry dynamics. The younger the company the more often an audit should be performed. Younger companies are often evolving quickly as they stay fluid to meet market and customer needs. Larger companies often have senior leaders with P&L responsibilities who are quick to critique and scrutinize objectives, strategies and spend. New company leaders also bring new ideas and challenge strategies. These leaders may not call the review an audit, but that’s the outcome.
- Your marketing is planned, managed an executed by an in-house agency. Companies will sometimes build their own in-house agency to save the hourly rates and overhead of an ad agency. While this can be a cost-effective strategy, what is lost is external expertise, objectivity and access to emerging trends and shared experience of the agency’s client list. Marketing is driven by exponential change and an ongoing digital evolution, so keeping up with change, trends, and efficiencies may not be as efficient in an in-house agency.
- Fear of slaying the sacred cow. Often, we hear of marketers who have ‘always done this or that’ sponsorship, ad or event. When challenged we learn the strategy is on auto-pilot from the initial season, year or executive request. It may have had a positive ROI or validating metrics the first year, but ROI is not subsequently evaluated. The bane of the marketing director is the C-Suite executive handshake sponsorship deal on the golf course. Having an external audit can provide the justification to bow out and reallocate funds.
- Your marketing team is tech-savvy and quick to launch the latest digital gizmo. As noted, marketing is impacted by a rapidly changing and evolving digital world. However, that should not mean chasing the latest digital platform, app development or CRM system without careful evaluation of unintended consequences or expenses. Additionally, with the tech-savvy comes staff turnover when boredom sets in. Be aware of any constraints to transition the knowledge in event of turnover. A marketing audit can uncover questions and answers to the tough questions and may illuminate some surprising untended consequences of early adoption.
- Decentralized marketing can create inefficiencies. Being responsive to local market conditions with hyper-local initiatives can be an effective strategy. Marketing that is intuitive and meaningful to the audience can generate sales and market share. But the downside is local relationships and decision-making can cloud objectivity. A marketing audit can help establish boundaries and guidelines for how local funds are invested.
A marketing audit need not be a prolonged ordeal but should be productive in terms of measuring effectiveness of strategies in relation to goals and objectives. Sometimes the rudder just needs adjusting. But if there are strategies that are way off course, the audit can be invaluable to building greater customer relationships with optimized return on investment.