Purple Papers

Avoiding Bad Marketing Investments

Like your finances, your firm’s marketing efforts should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that your short- and long-term plans are in order. A marketing audit is a type of review that examines both your internal and external marketing strategies to make sure that your firm is ready to meet your business goals. A marketing department’s role is varied: from increasing your visibility and improving your brand awareness to supporting your sales efforts and building meaningful client relationships. 

What is a Marketing Audit? 

A marketing audit is a comprehensive review of a company’s marketing capabilities. Specifically, it examines the goals, objectives and strategies of the marketing function and the tactics implemented. The marketing audit identifies operational strengths and weaknesses, and recommends changes to the company’s current and proposed marketing activities based on research that is done internally or by an external consultant. 

For instance, as marketing budgets continue to be reduced, you may need to take a closer look at your tactics and determine which ones are producing the results you seek and focus your efforts in those areas. This is your return on objectives – goals and objectives established upfront that are both designed to produce desired outcomes and can be measured for success. 

There are many questions to be asked and answered when undertaking a marketing audit. Here are just a few: 


  • What/where are your major market(s)?
  • Is the market segmented?
  • What are the current market trends?
  • What influences the market’s perception of your firm? 


  • How does your audience describe your key attributes?
  • How often does your target audience visit your Website?
  • Is your message concise throughout your brand?
  • Are you often asked to speak at industry events or shows? 


  • What are your firm’s long- and short-term objectives?
  • What are the brand drivers?
  • What are the key attributes and characteristics?
  • What is the brand message? 


  • What do you believe to be your biggest weakness?
  • What are your competitors doing better?
  • What is the perception of your competitors by your clients?
  • What clients do your competitors have that you want? 

Measuring Your Marketing 

Once you have gathered all the information from your audit questions, you are ready to analyze and determine the best marketing direction and tactics for your firm. It is essential to build into your process a report card or measurement instruments to assess the effectiveness and value of your marketing tactics. Without measuring your marketing, how do you know you are doing a good job? How do you know you are reaching the correct audience? Most important of all, are you converting prospects into clients? 

More often than not, marketing is measured poorly, if at all. We recently read a great analogy to measuring your return on opportunity, as opposed to the traditional approach of trying to measure return on investment. Think of it as your annual physical at your family doctor and use the findings to make changes to your firm marketing. 

Communicating with Partners 

Management wants to know that the firm’s marketing efforts are moving the organization in the right direction while driving growth and profitability. A marketing audit is an opportunity to provide analysis and suggestions to management on ways to improve marketing performance. But how do you communicate this to your marketing partner or firm management? 

Consider creating a living document that reports on a quarterly or semi-annual basis how the marketing touch point plan is performing, and where you have had to make adjustments based on early reports from the business development team, your PR counsel or your marketing and branding agency. 

Rate your success and difficulties on an easy to understand 5 point scale where 1= successful, 2= somewhat successful, 3= no opinion, 4= somewhat unsuccessful and 5= definite need for change. 

This yardstick will not only serve to keep the marketing team on track, it will also serve as an excellent report card to management regarding your efforts. And don’t worry when you discover that some efforts are failing. The key is to discover these failures early, correct these efforts, and move on so that the firm maintains a course that is steady and sound.

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