After taking the time to determine whether or not embarking in an audit is the most important and valuable use of your time, it is time to focus on the basics of the audit trail.
While financial audits of organizations are mandated by boards and the government, there’s not quite the same level of importance given to the marketing operations, however one might argue the impact of successful marketing is just as vital to the growth and sustainability of our organizations.
Due to the nature of an audit, there’s a good deal of right brain/left brain interaction at work. Marketing folks tend to be more “free” with the facts and add in the element of the arts, and it may be difficult for some of us to focus on the specifics needed to measure the materials and methods we use to share our messages with the world. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but we want everyone to share in the excitement of the audit!
A well-conceived and executed marketing audit should provide a methodical examination of the different levels of your marketing plan and how it is leveraged to forward the efforts of the organization including its relationship to the strategic plan, advertising, promotion, fundraising and overall public face of the institution.
The process you decide to follow for your audit must be repeatable and measurable. By affixing quantitative analysis to your work, you can begin to think more holistically about your approach each project. With the measurement of your work, it becomes instantly repeatable. The same exercise can be conducted the next year at the same time as long as the baseline is created in Year 1.
Making the marketing audit a repeatable focus of your annual marketing schedule and plan means that you will see the improvement that makes your work better. Or it will bring up those ideas or elements of the plan that still need work or to be shelved until they can be properly engaged. Implementing a marketing audit plan means a commitment to quality and improvement. By performing the audit every year, you will chart the progress of the marketing team and your own professional development in delivering your passion to an audience that wants to participate and engage in what you bring to life.
Through evaluation of your efforts and those who came before you, there should be a complete assessment of all internal and external marketing and communication tools and tactics. You should be able to put all of these items in buckets that are easy to review and reference as you continue to grow and expand your efforts, while not having to reinvent the wheel.
There’s probably no greater waste of time than to change something for change sake. With a formal report that quantifies efforts, you can focus your attention on being more efficient and effective. What manager and marketing professional doesn’t want that?
One final point on the topic of marketing audit basics is that you should not focus on results or outcomes. We all live in a data driven world, and while I love data I believe marketers should be making decisions in a data informed world, rather than solely relying on making the decisions for them. When embarking on a marketing audit, avoid the analytics that we live with in our everyday life and focus more on the tone and context of your marketing and communication efforts.
You should already be seeking out the data you need to program your website, manage content, improve social engagement and maximize email efficiency. A marketing audit is the time where you focus one level up on the quality of your efforts on those platforms.
The decisions you make during your audit will no doubt effect your performance on every marketing platform, but taking the time to make sure what you are saying and how are you saying it is inline with the organization’s strategic and marketing plans can make your work more focused and provide even greater results.