We all know what an audit is. An audit is a thorough, objective examination and evaluation of something. In a financial statement audit, an independent accountant picks through your books and records to make sure all is in order, then the auditor will opine on the accuracy of your financial statements. A tax audit will have you running for the hills and crying for mercy. Fortunately, a marketing audit is neither and will leave you feeling much more confident in your marketing strategy. A marketing audit provides excellent business intelligence.
What exactly is a marketing audit?
BusinessJargons.com defines a marketing audit as “the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.” It’s generally conducted by an objective person outside the organization, just like you would enlist an independent accounting firm to do a financial audit.
Many large organizations with sophisticated marketing programs perform audits annually. If you’re a small business, you may be questioning whether you need to perform a marketing audit. Rest assured, it’s a worthy investment of your time.
“Typically, the thought of an audit, whether it’s financial or tax in nature, conjures up feelings of stress and unease. Fortunately, a marketing audit is neither and will leave you feeling much more confident in your marketing strategy.”
3 characteristics of an effective marketing audit
Besides being independent and impartial, what ensures the most beneficial marketing audit? Dr. Antony Michail, business strategist and contributor to Brand Quarterly, identifies these essential characteristics.
The most beneficial marketing audit is comprehensive. A functional audit may be limited in scope to just a couple of specific trouble spots. But a comprehensive one will look at all the major and minor components of a business’s marketing procedures and modalities.
It is systematic. It reviews both internal and external factors in your marketing environment, following an orderly sequence. Once the fitness of your marketing is diagnosed, corrective measures can be prescribed for weak areas that are uncovered.
It is periodic. Don’t wait for a crisis. Once sales start to decline, you run the risk of not having time to shift strategies and resources, regaining enough control to avoid losses.
“A better procedure,” says Dr. Michail, “would be to have had a regular audit when things appeared to be going well in the same way an apparently healthy individual might take a regular medical exam. An audit during ‘good times’ which would examine areas outside the scope of the normal control procedures may well discover the beginning of strategy obsolescence.”