Why a marketing audit is such a powerful investment

Marketing Audit

So, first things first, what actually is a marketing audit?  Put simply it is a thorough review of everything that impacts upon the marketing of your business.  It usually comes as a surprise to most how many different elements of your business impact upon your marketing effectiveness.

Who should carry out a marketing audit?

To carry out a true marketing audit, just like what happens when a financial audit takes place, it is important to bring in external individuals to carry out the process.  This is important for a number of reasons:

  1. They are completely impartial marketing experts
  2. An external person will not be influenced by historical factors or personality preferences within the business
  3. A professional will undertake a complete 360-degree audit of your organisation’s marketing – not just those areas that you think need to be looked at.
  4. There are no potential repercussions to them based on their recommendations

Why carry out a marketing audit?

At Opportunity Marketing we call our marketing audit process a “marketing health check” but other businesses will carry out their own version of something similar, as it is a logical starting point to carry out a full marketing audit first before recommending any course of activity.

Using a driving analogy, you don’t just get in a car and drive.  You first decide on your desired destination and think through the best route to take to get you there (taking into account a number of variable factors – weather, traffic, time of day etc).  Indeed, you may also use a third party (a SatNav) to help you if it is somewhere you have never been to before.  You also need to consider whether you have enough fuel to get you there!

Our SME findings…

Around 6 months ago we added a simple online marketing test onto our website, so that visitors could answer 12 simple questions either “yes”, “no” or “don’t know” and receive a score out of 12 which also advised whether they could benefit from some marketing help.

Now our full marketing audit takes 3 hours and involves ten times as many questions, but even a simple 2-minute test has thrown up some interesting stats about how SME businesses are performing with regards to their marketing, which we thought would be useful to share.

So far, from a sample of 86 responses the average score out of 12 is 5 (so less than 50%). 

What this shows is that although many businesses are successfully understanding and implementing some of the basic elements of marketing, there are other core fundamentals that are letting them down.  What this ultimately means is that they are no maximising their potential returns.

We are not going to go through all of the results but want to flag up some of key areas that stood out as it may get you thinking about how you would answer these example questions, and whether there is some further thought or analysis you could apply to in terms of marketing your own business.

Common problem 1: Lack of differentiation

Forty-seven percent of respondents didn’t think that there was anything truly unique about their offering.  Now this is high and a really important element because if there is nothing unique about your offering – why would someone choose you over a competitor?  If you would answer the same then have a brainstorm over what you could introduce to differentiate you and make you truly unique.

Being different

Common problem 2: Lack of purpose

Fifty-eight percent of respondents didn’t think that all of their marketing activity had a sole purpose.  What this ultimately suggests is that SMEs might be carrying out activity, probably out of habit or because they think it is the right thing to do, without having any clear calls to action.  If your communications don’t actually tell prospective customers what “to do next” then they are much less likely to travel up your sales pipeline.

Common problem 3: Lack of tracking

A staggering 47% of respondents were not even tracking marketing performance against money invested.  Why this is such a worrying statistic is because most SME’s are not cash rich entities that have money to burn.  It is so critical to track that the money you are spending is generating a return on investment.  If, for example, you are investing in Google Ads you want to know how many enquiries that spend is generating and how much profit it has brought back into the business.

What’s more is that 55% of respondents were not even tracking enquiries into their business

On top of this, 57% did not know how many enquiries they need to generate in order to reach their targets.  Bringing it back to the driving analogy, if you are not sure how far the journey is then you can’t know whether you have enough fuel in the car or whether you have allowed enough time to reach your destination – and there is every possibility you won’t get there.

Lead tracking

Common problem 4: Understanding the “why”

Forty eight percent of people did not know why their customers bought from them.  What you need to consider here is how can you possibly replicate the magic of what makes people buy from you if you have no idea what that is?  The good news is that it is not to late to find out!


Common problem 5: Exposure to risk

Lastly, and perhaps most worryingly is that 60% of businesses said that losing their biggest client tomorrow would have serious implications on the business.  If your answer would be similar – we have previously written a blog surrounding the “danger of the golden egg” which may be well worth a read.  Many businesses become successful due largely to the relationship with one big spending client and they ultimately focus more effort on keeping them happy.  Now this is fine, but if anything should happen to that business or their respective industry which is out of your control, if you are not careful, it could send you under.  Make sure you plan to spread your risk accordingly.  One bad debt, even if it is a few points up the supply chain, can have a serious knock-on effect throughout a number of businesses.

Evaluate your risk

Final word…

So hopefully this article has given you a little food for thought and highlighted why a marketing audit is a very powerful investment to ensure that your business is doing all the right things to maximise returns from your marketing activity.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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