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How to Audit a Marketing Department

Audit isn’t the most appealing word to most people who connect the term with an intrusive assessment of your previous tax payments. Marketers can expect that an audit of a marketing department could require a similar amount of time and energy, but it won’t result in any penalties — only a stronger, more thorough marketing strategy and plan to achieve it.  

Instead, auditing a marketing department can allow team members to better understand what marketing activities are working well, which channels are proving most successful, which markets to target, and what resources could be better allocated elsewhere. An audit of this nature may also help determine where resources are being wasted on inefficient processes and workflows. 

Finally, auditing a marketing department can set the overall priorities and message across the entire team, leaving the marketing department in a good position to create an effective marketing plan.

Steps for auditing a marketing department

So how do you audit a marketing department? Well, auditing a marketing department requires collecting information about your company, marketing activities undertaken and planned, as well as competitors and target audiences. It also involves answering questions about key goals and objectives for the marketing department. 

  1. Determine goals and objectives: Determining the goals and objectives both for the marketing department’s activities and the audit itself is the first step. Marketing goals and objectives may already have been set prior to the audit, or this could be the first time a marketing department is putting together this information. Before undertaking the other steps, understanding the goal of the audit in revealing weaknesses or opportunities in the marketing department should be clear. 

  2. Describe current customers: Using whatever data the marketing department has at hand, describe your current customers. This information will ideally include your customer demographics, preferences, buying journeys, and geographies. 

  3. Determine customers you’d like to target: One of the common goals of a marketing audit is to expand the target audience of potential customers, so you’ll want to describe in detail the customers you’d like to target in the future. This will include demographic information, preferred channels of communication, income information, and buying habits. 

  4. Describe your product or service: Getting a clear understanding of your product is vital to planning how to promote it to current and potential customers. Performing a SWOT analysis on your own products and services can elucidate the best ways to sell to this audience. 

  5. Examine past and current marketing activities: In this step, you’ll examine both past and current marketing activities and use analytics to determine the specific success these activities have had in generating leads or ROI in the past. With regard to current marketing activities, be sure to detail every ongoing activity and include metrics where available.

  6. Outline competitor activity: It can be helpful to choose a selection of competitors to focus on for this step. For each competitor, you’ll describe their company structure, products or services, pricing, as well as their marketing activities, and how successful they have been. 

  7. Assess and identify gaps in meeting goals set: Once you’ve gathered the aforementioned data, it’s time to assess and identify gaps in your marketing department’s performance, keeping in mind that honesty and objective analysis will likely deliver the best results. 

  8. Create an action plan for addressing those gaps: Finally, it’s time to come up with a concrete plan for addressing those gaps as well as meeting new goals and objectives. This plan should be actionable, detailing daily activities and timely campaigns that can elevate the brand, get the message out to customers, and create an edge over the competition. 

It’s important to keep in mind that as a marketing department grows and becomes more complex, steps and considerations within the marketing audit will grow as well. A marketing department audit for a large multinational company will take longer and perhaps be an ongoing process. In contrast, a marketing department audit for a start-up or boutique agency will follow these basic steps.

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