What is a Marketing Audit?
Kotler and Keller (2007) defined the marketing audit as the comprehensive, systematic, analysis, evaluation and the interpretation of the business marketing environment, both internal and external, its goals, objectives, strategies, principles to ascertain the areas of problem and opportunities and to recommend a plan of action to enhance the firm’s marketing performance.
Ideally a marketing audit is conducted by a third person outside of the organisation.
When carrying out a Marketing Audit the following points should be kept in mind:
Comprehensive. The Audit should cover all the areas of marketing not just where a problem exists but should cover the whole marketing function
Systematic. A systematic approach to analysing both the company’s micro and macro environment (the SWOT analysis), marketing principles, objectives, strategies and other activities that directly and or indirectly influence the marketing performance, should be adopted.
Independent. The most objective way to carry out a marketing audit is to employ a third party who will show no bias and will not have the pressure of historic influences. When selecting someone to carry out the audit, you will need to allow them to completely submerge themselves in your company culture and activity to get a full picture of the company. While you are asking a third party to actually put together the findings of the audit you will need to be prepared to invest some of your own management time to the process to get the best results.
Periodical. The marketing audit should not be a standalone event. While a full audit as part of your strategic marketing plan need only be carried out once or perhaps every other year. It would be prudent to audit your marketing activities more regularly to make sure you are still on track to meet your objectives.
Components of Marketing Audit
There are lots of templates you can use to manage your marketing audit but the simplest focuses on three parts.
- Marketing Strategy Audit: A major part of the audit checks the feasibility of the Business Mission, Marketing Objectives, Goals and Marketing Strategies that have a direct impact on the firm’s marketing performance. It doesn’t matter how efficient the marketing activity is in achieving the objectives if the objectives are wrong for the company’s future.
The next part of the audit involves what is traditionally known as the SWOT. The SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats takes care of the Macro (external) and Micro (internal) factors influencing your company.
- Macro-Environment Audit: This includes all the factors outside the firm that influence the marketing performance and covers the ‘Opportunities’ and ‘Threats’ part of your SWOT. These factors are Demographic, Economic, Environmental, Political, and Cultural. They are often organised as a PEST/C or PESTAL analysis. This part will also look at the wider competitor landscape.
- The Micro–Environmental Audit: This covers the internal factors, the ‘Strengths & Weaknesses’ of the SWOT. This part of the audit covers:
The Task Environment: While these factors could be considered as external they are intrinsic to the marketing function and are specific to the firm and therefore considered close enough to be included in the micro-environmental audit. These include factors closely associated with the firm such as markets, distributors, suppliers, customers, competitors and retailers etc. that affect the efficiency of the marketing programs.
Staff: Evaluating the performance of staff at different levels of the firm and their influence on the marketing function.
Marketing Systems: Maintaining and updating several marketing systems such as Marketing Information System, Marketing Planning System, Marketing Control System and New-Product Development System.
Marketing Productivity: Evaluating the performance of the Marketing activities in terms of Profitability and Cost-Effectiveness.
Marketing Function: Keeping a check on the firm’s core competencies such as Product, Price, Distribution, Marketing Communication and Sales Force.
The marketing audit helps to determine how well a firm’s marketing is carrying out the marketing activities and analyses how much it is adding to the overall performance of the organisation.
If you would like help with conducting a strategic marketing audit, please do get in touch.