Some principles are as true today as they were 65 years ago. Abe Schuchman gave this definition of marketing audit in his writings on its first extended discussions, which he wrote for the American Marketing Association (AMA) in 1951.
“Marketing audit is a systematic, critical and impartial review and appraisal of the total marketing operation: of the basic objectives and policies and the assumptions which underlie them as well as the methods, procedures, personnel and organization employed to implement the policies and achieve the objectives.”
Every marketing audit should begin with an assessment of where you’ve been, where you’re heading and what you hope to accomplish. Start with the basic components of marketing: a written marketing plan; printed materials (brochures, flyers, etc.); website; social media platforms; digital and print direct marketing, email blasts and newsletters; blogs/articles or opinion pieces; public relations (press releases, story pitches, being a source for reporters and editors); public speaking/presenting seminars and workshops; digital and print advertising; special events; and the all-important attending networking events and/or membership in professional, civic and other organizations.
Next, conduct a written assessment. Create a list of marketing components and rank your success with each one you’ve employed, with five as the highest level of success down to zero for complete flops. Further, rank which aspects you are most interested in pursuing. Give a priority rating to each initiative that you select (one being highest and so on). Now you’ve reached the point of “critical and impartial review,” as stated by Schuchman. There is great value in sitting down with trusted colleagues – especially those with marketing expertise and a proven track record of success – to move forward with finally creating a viable marketing plan, or ditching that dusty one that’s been sitting in a drawer for umpteen years.
This is not to suggest that every element of marketing need be included in the strategy of a business, professional practice, not-for-profit group or other commercial entity. That’s the whole point of doing an audit. Your goal is to discover how your current marketing activities stay within the resources you have available (are you spending your money wisely?); measure up against your competition (what are they doing that you want to emulate…or rule out altogether?); and develop a plan for improvement (marketing is a living, breathing organism). Your resources include the salary of an in-house marketing professional or independent consultant; your actual availability to market your business; the cost of printed materials, website, events, advertising and so on; and your ability to be completely honest about your commitment to marketing.
Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three distinct attitudes about marketing: Love it, hate it, ignore it. For anyone who’s invested in his or her business, the only productive attitude is love it. Now get started assessing and incorporating serious marketing into your business plan. Hmmm, do you have a business plan? That’s a subject for another time.