A marketing audit is a structured survey of an organisation’s Marketing efforts. It looks at the way Marketing is planned and managed. It asks what has been done and what else should be done. In other words:

  • what has worked?
  • and what has failed?

An audit provides a “snap shot” of the current situation.A marketing audit is a systematic examination of each element of the firm’s current marketing activity and achievements to determine how well and cost-effectively each element helps the firm meet its overall goals.

The context of the marketing audit is the current Marketing management and performance of the organisation.The context is the overall marketing strategy of the business and the assumptions on which the strategy is based. The purpose of a marketing audit is not to criticise particular activities, but rather to identify whether there are any working practices that could be more effective. The marketing team within a business are fully involved in the marketing audit. They may carry out the audit themselves, or with the support of an outside consultant.

A marketing audit is a series of important questions, such as:

  • Are there any areas where different approaches could be considered?
  • Are there any internal factors that create barriers to best practice?
  • Are there practices which their competitors – or companies in other sectors – find effective?
  • Which companies do they believe are likely to provide examples of ‘best practice’?

Recommendations can then be made to improve current strategies or introduce more effective activities and working practices.

The marketing audit objectively analyses the marketing function of a business, by looking in particular at:

  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness
  • and Quality

Efficiency is about how the marketing team is structured, the processes employed, and how outside agencies and services are used. Effectiveness is measured by the results of marketing activity and by looking at how the budget has been spent in relation to the original objectives. The quality of each activity is reviewed, by measuring it against external opinions from clients and other stakeholders. We will look at these in more detail.

Efficiency is measured by looking at the infrastructure of the business.Each marketing function is separated into discrete tasks. As each task is analysed, key issues that affect the business will be identified. The job descriptions, qualifications and experience of the individual members of the team are collected and compared, to test for consistency and relevance.

Effectiveness is measured by assessing the impact of the marketing activity, compared to the size of the marketing budget being spent.The marketing spend is analysed by service, type of activity and intended result.

Quality is measured by comparison with ‘best practice’. This means selecting what has already been successful in the organisation, or in other organisations. This process is sometimes called benchmarking. The “benchmark” provides a standard for future campaigns.The cost and impact of marketing is measured against similar activities in other organisations.This information can be difficult to obtain, as it is often confidential. Benchmarking can reap rewards.

Once all the audit and assessment activities have taken place, the findings are assembled into a report complete with a prioritised action plan. Often, a first draft of the audit findings is circulated to the Marketing team and to a selection of the people who have been interviewed. This enables them to check and review the facts and data to ensure accuracy. They will also know that they have helped to produce the audit.The final stage is presenting the results of the audit/ benchmarking exercise. The Marketing team should be involved in this.

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