The Marketing Audit: Finding the Reason for Your Success

Content-AuditWhy is your company doing so well? Why is it experiencing some difficulties?

What are you doing right? And, more importantly, what are you doing wrong?

Effective marketing requires a plan, with objectives, strategies and tactics for reaching goals.

After these steps have been taken, a review of their effectiveness should be undertaken on a planned basis. This review is called “the marketing audit” and is one tool for determining your current level of success.

What is a marketing audit?

what-is-a-legitimate-loan-auditA marketing audit is a “comprehensive, systematic, independent and periodic examination of a company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies and activities to determine problem areas and new opportunities for improvement.”

The marketing audit will also provide information for recommending a plan of action for improving performance, if one is necessary.

The marketing audit is comprehensive in that it covers all the major marketing activities of a business, not just a few weak spots.

It is systematic in that it involves an orderly sequence of diagnostic steps covering the company’s marketing environment, internal marketing system and specific marketing activities.

The diagnosis is then followed by a “corrective” action plan involving both short- and long-term proposals for improving a company’s overall effectiveness.

The marketing audit is independent and can be conducted in many ways. Self-audit, audit from across, audit from above, by a company task force, or ny an outside auditor.

Experienced  outside marketing consultants give the most accurate audits because they have the necessary objectivity and broad experience, familiarity with the industry of the company being audited, ample time, and the ability to concentrate completely on the audit.

Periodic audits benefit good companies as well as those in trouble, since few organizations can remain successful over years by maintaining the status quo.

How do you start a marketing audit?

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The marketing audit begins with a meeting between the company’s top marketing officer and the auditor. This meeting is to work out an agreement on goals, coverage, depth, sources for information, report format and time period for the audit.

A detailed plan as to who is to be interviewed, the questions that should be asked, and the time and place of contact is carefully prepared so that all costs can be kept to a minimum.

The cardinal rule of auditing is, “Don’t rely solely on the company’s executives and employees for necessary information and opinions. Customers, dealers and other outside groups should be interviewed and will usually provide the most useful viewpoints.”

After the gathering of data has been completed, the auditor will present the main findings and recommendations. Thus, the marketing audit is to determine the marketing problem areas as well as recommending ways to improve an organization’s overall performance.

Six areas to consider for an effective marketing audit

stacked reportsThe effective marketing audit covers six major areas:

  1. The marketing environmental audit analyzes forces such as demographics, economics, ecological issues, technological considerations, political factors and cultural standards. It also is concerned with customers, competitors, dealers, distributors, suppliers and other similar factors.
  2. The marketing strategy audit, reviews the company’s marketing goals and strategies to determine how well these have been adapted to the current marketing environment.
  3. The marketing organization audit calls for evaluating the ability of the marketing organization to carry out the necessary strategies based on the environment.
  4. The marketing systems audit involves examining the quality of the company’s systems for analyzing, planning and controlling.
  5. The marketing productivity audit looks at the profitability of different entities within the company and the cost effectiveness of different marketing expenditures.
  6. The marketing function audit consists of an in-depth evaluation of marketing mix components such as price, distribution, sales force, advertising, promotion and social media.

Making the audit worthwhile

The most important element in the success or failure of a marketing audit is management’s willingness to listen closely to the auditor’s final recommendations, based on the analysis of the area’s discussed.

The audit is a very important tool for a company to use in gaining a thorough understanding of its markets, and it will help a company decide what customers want and how to deliver its products or services.

This understanding of the market and all its different elements gives a company the power to reach its customers in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

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The 4 P’s of Marketing Aren’t Enough Anymore!

4 Ps of MarketingEveryone knows the 4 P’s of marketing…

  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Price
  • Place

But Gino Biondi, vice president of sales & marketing at Zenith Products, has suggested that the 4 P’s of marketing aren’t enough anymore.  Instead, he believes it takes a baker’s dozen of P’s to represent the many facets of product, channel and brand marketing.

Gino’s 13 P’s of marketing are…

  • New Ps of MarketingPerformance
  • Product
  • Place
  • Placement
  • People
  • Projection
  • Programming
  • Packaging
  • Public Relations
  • Promotion
  • Proliferation
  • Price
  • Positioning

P #1: Performance

No marketing plan is worth its weight without specific and measurable metrics and goals.

  • Profit
  • Sales
  • Share

Performance should be the first P.  It lets you know how the brand is performing and allows you to set performance goals.

P #2: Positioning

This P establishes the brand road map.

  • Relevant and meaningful consumer Insights
  • Attributes
  • Functional benefits
  • Reasons-to-believe
  • Emotional benefits
  • Brand essence
  • Brand character
  • Brand tone
  • Iconology

P #3: People

The idea that there are multiple targets to consider is the basis of this P.

  • Primary bull’s-eye consumer – demographic, psychographic, attitudinal, & behavioral
  • Secondary target purchasers or influencers – moms, kids, teachers, doctors, etc.
  • Stakeholder customers/retailers/resellers – If they don’t carry it you can’t sell it.
  • Sales professionals, installers, service people – sales people like to sell it, the installer prefers to hook it up and Customer Service likes to take the calls.
  • Internal employees – passion and word of mouth gets generated internally first.

P#4: Product

Product is the foundation of the Brand.

  • Tied to the Positioning key attributes
  • Differentiated key benefits
  • Innovation
  • Cost base versus your competitor
  • Volume
  • Meeting/exceeding quality expectations

P#5: Packaging

Packaging can be the most impactful marketing tool.

  • Form is a key communicator and provides key benefits – an upside down bottle of ketchup changed the industry and mustard, mayo, shampoo…
  • “Green” packaging or wasteful materials impacts attitudes.
  • Quality has an emotional response – sloppy fit and finish or crooked labels says a lot about the brand
  • Graphics  need to be compelling – authentic, modern, innovative, nostalgic, youthful, serious, fun
  • Services too – trucks, vehicles and uniforms.  Think Molly Maid, Geek Squad, UPS, Even name tags on a store clerk

P #6: Proliferation

How far should the brand extend is the thought behind this P.

  • Product proliferation can be key to distribution, shelf expansion or consumer needs
    • Flavors, varieties, colors, fragrances
    • Promotions, seasonal
  • Proliferation can be bad!
    • It creates operational complexity and increase the risk of underperforming SKU’s
    • What is the supply chain tolerance level in your company?
    • Non-value added features add cost that may not be recovered
  • Customer exclusivity may require SKU proliferation as well.

P #7: Promotion

This famous P should get a narrower view.

  • All brands need promotion strategies for both consumers and customers
  • Relatively short-term or loyalty building vehicles
    • To prevent switching to another competitor
    • To induce switching from a competitor
  • Promotion can be used to create excitement around seasonal opportunities.
    • Halloween, Spring cleaning, Back-to-School, Tax time
  • Create brand excitement and pull-through
    • Sweepstakes, contests, themed events

P #8: Projection

Brand Communications is the theme of this P.

  • Translating positioning into compelling creative and copy
  • Integrated Marketing is at the core of Projection
  • Every medium is different and how you use it should be treated uniquely
    • Mass media
    • TV, print, radio
    • Digital
      • Social media platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube)
      • Blog posts
      • Internet, web site, viral, e-commerce
      • Direct, outdoor, mobile, event
        • Sports marketing, sponsorships, entertainment
  • Consider ethnic audiences as well

P #9: Public Relations

PR is the cherry on top of the cake.  When fundamentals are in place PR creates a genre for the brand.

  • Cause-related marketing (charities) – Breast Cancer, Victory Junction Gang, Habitat for Humanity
  • Major relevant events – hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, anniversaries, milestones
  • Word-of-Mouth
  • More realistic and relevant with real user or third-party endorsements.
  • Spokespersons

P #10: Programming

This P tackles media choice.

  • How much should be spent on media?
  • How much should be allocated to the different mediums?
    • TV
    • Digital
    • Print
    • Radio
    • Outdoor
    • Direct
    • Non-traditional

Be sure to measure the effectiveness of each medium.

P #11: Price

Price has multiple components and needs unique strategies and plans for each.

  • List pricing
  • Everyday Low Price (EDLP)
  • High/Low pricing
  • Hybrid EDLP with opportunistic promotions

Critical to the decision is your channel and customer strategy, competitive situation, portfolio mix and consumer pricing sensitivity.

P #12: Place

With this P you need to think broadly…from global, to region, to channel.

Global: International challenges require putting the previous P’s together to determine the merits and overall strategy of succeeding on a global basis.

Region: Regional differences do exist.

  • Economic, climate, culture, population, etc.

Channel: Requires deep analysis to determine trade-offs and if presence is needed.

  • Club, mass, home improvement, grocery, convenience, sporting, industrial, electronics, specialty, hardware, dollar, drug, distributors, office, etc..

P #13: Placement

Gino considers this to be a bonus P that considers the ideal place in the store where products and services should be located.

  • How do you get it there?
  • Front  or back
  • Which direction from the aisle?
  • On the counter or checkout?
  • Near adjacent categories?
  • Near complimentary purchase categories?
  • Which position on the shelf?
    • Quality
    • Brand block
    • Size
    • Variety

By thinking through Gino Biondi’s 13 P’s of marketing, you will thoughtfully consider your brands range of options and maximizing your marketing effectiveness.