If asking a roomful of people for a definition of marketing results in a dozen different answers, asking the same group how to conduct a marketing audit is bound to be 2 or 3 times as frustrating. Here are just a few of the “marketing audit” variations I’ve heard recently:
External Marketing Audit
Usually similar to a SWOT analysis, examining and evaluating the market, competitors, and the economic environment.
Internal Marketing Audit
Also similar to a SWOT analysis, focusing on your company’s current strengths and weaknesses.
Content (or Marketing Content) Audit
With popularity of inbound marketing and content marketing, more businesses talk about performing a content audit. A content audit typically consists of:
- Gathering up all of the disparate marketing materials that have been created over the years.
- Evaluating which content is working and which is not. Content is considered “working” when it is attracting visitors, engaging the target audience, leading to sales, etc.
- Creating a plan for creating new content that “works”
Marketing Tactic Audit
This is a name that I made up for marketing audits that focus on a specific strategy. For example, you may hear people talk about “social media marketing audits” or “website audits”. While these exercises may be helpful, I believe they should be part of a broader evaluation of your marketing system.
Customer Interview or Satisfaction Surveys
I heard people refer to these as “audits” but personally, I don’t agree. In my mind they are feedback tools.
Judging Against a Standard
Some of you know that I early in my professional career I was a CPA (certified public accountant). Part of my job then was conducting audits – both financial and compliance audits. While a “marketing audit” is nothing like the work I did then, there are lessons that I learned then that I use in my marketing career today.
When I was being taught how to conduct an audit as an accountant, I was give a set of steps (an audit program) and a set of rules and regulations to help me evaluate the current reality against a set of standards.
Unfortunately, most marketing audits focus on collecting and assessing the current reality, but they don’t have a set of standards (or a system) to compare against – they don’t “start with end in mind”.
Begin With The End In Mind
If your audit doesn’t provide you with a list of actionable items that will help you move closer to your business and personal goals, then it’s just a bunch of busy work.
I believe that marketing is a system and if you are going to spend the effort to conduct a marketing audit you should start with a vision of what that system looks like. Your audit should help provide you with an unvarnished look at what your marketing system looks like today and what you need to do ( a prioritized action list) to make that vision a reality.
Duct Tape Marketing outlines 7 Steps for Marketing Success. These steps outline what we believe a marketing system should look like, so they become the baseline that we evaluate against when performing an audit. The goal of the audit isn’t determine if you are doing a good job or a bad job; the goal is to help you take the next steps to build a marketing system that attracts your ideal customers so you can meet your financial goals.
I’m obviously biased towards Duct Tape Marketing, but even if you don’t use our system, I hope you will find a marketing system that works for you.
If you would like to see how this process works using the Duct Tape Marketing System, follow this link to complete our Signature Brand Audit form.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant