November 30, 2012
Drew’s note ~ Here’s some practical advice from the folks at Simple Machines Marketing and we couldn’t agree more. We often start our engagements with new clients with an audit like Charlie describes:
As a marketing strategist who works directly with clients, I’m very familiar with the frustration businesses feel when it comes to marketing. The common theme in a lot of the frustration has to do with uncertainty. When a client is responsible for making projections and they’re forced to deal with the probabilities and estimates of a new marketing channel, that’s frustrating.
The fact is that even businesses with a healthy revenue stream and an active marketing operation are often frustrated by uncertainties in marketing. Is there still a good amount of revenue out there that could be claimed with a sharper strategy? If you doubled down on your advertising budget, would that mean doubling your profits? Or, could you be spending less and seeing the same results? Maybe everything is perfect the way it is now?
The Objectivity Problem
Assessing your own marketing plan is trickier than it sounds. While you might think that you’re looking at your strategy objectively, there are factors that make this extremely difficult.
For example, there’s a strong tendency to do things the way they’ve been done before—it’s just human nature. We’re already comfortable doing things a certain way, and who’s to say that changing them now will make much of a difference? Plus, there’s the person who came up with this plan, and we don’t want to make her feel bad by changing it up for no good reason, right?
An Unbiased Perspective
With an outside marketing audit, businesses can benefit from a totally unbiased perspective on their marketing opportunities—free of any favoritism, precedent, or attachment that might be obscuring a clear picture of the situation.
To illustrate how the audit can play out, I thought I would share a couple of my own experiences with this process:
- • AdWords Overspending. Last year, we started working with a client who had already been advertising using Google’s AdWords for several months. They were spending a lot of money on all kinds of clicks; to them, that was a normal and predictable amount to spend every month. When we performed an audit of their PPC campaign, we discovered that by focusing on more targeted keywords and revisiting the copy, we could significantly lower their CPC and spend level while driving more targeted traffic at a higher conversion rate. The surplus budget from AdWords was recently put towards a telemarketing test – which has turned out to be a promising new lead generator.
- • In-store Marketing Overload: A different client recently asked a couple of us come out and visit his store for our marketing kickoff meeting. When we walked in the door, we noticed something right away: there was way too much in-store marketing. His store was crowded with signs, posters and displays—so many things all competing for our attention that we didn’t know where to look. When we brought this up to him, he told us that these advertisements had all been added gradually by his vendors; for him, the sensory overload wasn’t something he ever really noticed or thought about. An outside audit helped him to realize that in order for any of these advertisements to be effective, he needed to slim things down a lot.
These are just a couple examples, but they both illustrate why the marketing audit is a powerful and time-tested tool. Whether it’s your brand, your marketing channels, your ad budget, or the number of signs in your store, an audit can ensure that your plan is on the right track and that you’re not missing opportunities to improve.
Has your business ever had an outside audit? What was the result?
Charlie Nadler is the Marketing Strategist for Simple Machines Marketing, a Chicago marketing firm. Simple Machines works with a variety of small businesses in their area.More