If you’re thinking about creating a new marketing plan or revising a current one, you might want to step back and do a marketing audit first.
Marketing plans are generally good things. You know the old saying, plan your work and work your plan? Unfortunately, too many business owners and senior executives just can’t seem to get a good plan down on paper. They’ve tried. They may even have one or two they’re using (great!) or that are sitting on a cyberspace shelf gathering digital dust (not so great).
Either way, knowing where you are is helpful in deciding where you want to go and how to get there. That’s where a marketing audit can help.
Recently, two of our current clients and a prospect have come to us for marketing plans, which we can and do build for companies and organizations.
But in each of these cases we suggested marketing audits be done first.
1. One client, a health-care company, has grown from start-up to $100 million in annual revenues in 12 years without doing much marketing at all. The business was riding a wave, of course, and the executives were smart to take advantage of it. Now, however, it’s harder to maintain a constant percentage growth and the company is facing two new challenges: tough competition and a more mature marketplace. Other surfers are trying to ride the wave and the wave isn’t moving as fast any more.
Company leaders knew they needed to step up their marketing efforts but they didn’t know how. We recommended an audit, instead of a plan, to document what they’re doing now and to learn more about what their markets are looking for.
2. Our client, headquartered in London, tried two years ago to launch a product in the U.S. Unfortunately, the product didn’t take off. The executives asked us for a new marketing plan. Again, we recommended an audit. We felt they just didn’t know enough about why the first launch didn’t work to decide if they should even attempt a second.
3. The prospect wants to decide if and when to expand its geographic scope. But the executives have key questions to answer. Are they getting the most out of their current marketplace? Should the product line be extended in a new marketplace? Should their target profile be enlarged or revised before any expansion? To answer these questions, they need to have baseline information organized in a useful way.
Marketing audits can (and one already has) help these companies achieve the following goals.
The health-care company received documentation of what marketing it’s done and what it’s doing now. The company has several divisions, each following its own sales and marketing path. It also received an independent, unbiased review of its marketing efforts and is identifying opportunities for improvement. Finally, executives learned what they’re not doing that might take them to the next level.
The European manufacturing executives learned how well they really understand the U.S. market and what they need to learn. Our audit showed, for example, that certain U.S. segments do need the company’s product but will probably respond to a different approach than the one used for the first launch. We also discovered that some product attributes need to be emphasized more and that marketing communications require sharpening.
With a marketing audit, the prospect company considering expansion could learn which marketing factors will figure into its decision most prominently. It could also learn if its executives are on the same page or if they are even reading the same book. In other words, are they aligned strongly enough to take on the significant new challenges expansion would bring? They are doing fine with all of their efforts focused on one region. What happens if they split those efforts in two?
A marketing audit offers all three of these companies the baseline information and ideas they need to create and implement a solid marketing plan and to determine if one is even needed.
If you feel you don’t have a good handle on your marketing activities and how well they are working, let us know. We’ll be happy to talk about whether a marketing audit will help. Who knows, you may already have enough information to do a plan. If you do, we can talk about that, too.