research, analysis and consulting
"The best way to review, evaluate, and improve the marketing function
Why carry out a Marketing Audit?
The future success of any company is most dependent on how it is perceived by its customers; what they really think about its products, its service, its brand strength, its image and its value.
The Marketing Audit is essentially a health check on customerís perceptions of your Company and Brand.† The findings from an Audit are constructive and are focused on improving marketing effectiveness and overall competitiveness.
An Audit is an independent and objective view of a companyís total marketing performance in relation to its market environment.† It seeks to go beyond the usual marketing imagery and collateral to identify any elements of the marketing mix that may be weakening the overall offer as well as to reaffirm what the Company is doing very well against its competitors.
The findings from the audit are framed by customer needs and how they perceive the companyís competitive advantages. This is an ideal basis for creating valuable objectives and setting action plans to achieve them. An Audit is the ideal foundation for a strategic or marketing plan review.
What is a Marketing Audit?
The full Audit comprises a series of interviews with customers (and staff where appropriate) and investigates all elements of the marketing mix. Sometimes the Audit can used for a specific reason, for example to review communications and marketing materials so the interviews will focus on these issues in context.† The interviews address some or all of the following;
Introduction and the context of the relationship
Nature of the respondents business and how they use the companyís products and services. How long has the relationship been established and any recent key issues?
Top-line review of why they use the companyís products, key strengths and weaknesses, what are the key features for them, what might threaten future sales growth?
The overall image of the company
Using various techniques; how do they describe the company, who do they think uses it, do they think they are valued, any trends in the behaviour of the Company?
What brand imagery do they recall, what do they think of it, does it fit their perception of the business? Test any creative ideas which may be under development.
What do they know about the Companyís products and services that they donít use?
Decision making process
How supplier decisions are made, who is involved? What are the procurement policies? What are the key features sought from a supplier? What is the supplier review process dates etc.?
The product and service
Considering the whole product, service and buying experience, what are the key features and benefits sought by the respondent?† How do they rate the Companies performance in these areas and what are the strengths and weaknesses of specific products?
How do the products rate against the competition? How is the Company differentiated against the competition and what could further improve this differentiation?
What enhancements would improve the products for the respondent or make them more competitive?
What improvements, if any, could be made to the sales, order processing, delivery and customer service performance of the Company?
How effective are the current items of marketing collateral like brochures, web sites, product literature, samples etc? What suggestions would they have for improvement?
What advertising do they recall, how effective is it? What media to they use to search for product information?
What personal services do they need or value; training, direct sales, visits etc.?
What are the preferred and most effective ways of communicating with the respondent?
Industry or sector trends
What are the trends in the respondents sector? How well are Companies products and services aligned to these trends and what developments are suggested?
The findings from interviews are collated and analysed to be reported back in a structured format to the client company. Working closely with the marketing team, issues can be identified and understood before feeding into the planning process.
What does a Marketing Audit cost?
Clearly, this will depend on the type of business and the number of customer segments that may need to be included.† As an approximate guide, most audits will cover around twenty in-depth , face-to-face interviews with customers.† For a fully comprehensive audit including the planning, analysis and reporting, the total cost would be between £10,000 and £12,000. Audits of specific issues may be less.
For B2C brands, the in-depth interviews with retail customers in the supply chain are still valid for most audit purposes. When consumer insights are also needed this is normally achieved through a small number of focus groups.† This would increase the total cost to £15,000 to £20,000.
When should a Marketing Audit be carried out?
Anytime that a client wishes to review their marketing plan or has concerns about any aspect of their marketing mix. In a perfect world, the Audit should be the first step in the marketing planning process so it is best carried out several months before the plan and budget is required.
Many clients decide to use the audit process to test new product or creative ideas with their clients and at the same time find out how they will be received in the context of the overall marketing mix. The audit will often throw up significant issues which may prevent new products being adopted or new creative being effective no matter how good they may be.
Who should carry out the Marketing Audit?
The in-house marketing resource is usually too stretched to find time for a comprehensive survey. Furthermore, no matter how objective the marketing team may be, it is often difficult for them to take an overview across the whole marketing mix and customers can tend to withhold valuable information as a consequence of their existing relationships.
Strategica has a wealth of experience in qualitative research and can apply business experience and commercial acumen to the assignment.† This ensures that the findings are independent and that highly valuable business insights are not missed.
Contact Keith Bliss on 07966 495035 to discuss your audit needs.