This might sound nuts to some people, but I LOVE performing marketing audits – it is one of my favorite parts of working with companies. It’s exciting to me because it is the first step in transforming a company and how it is perceived by its audiences. After a thorough intake meeting, we develop an inventory – a long list of anything the company has done recently with its marketing including a company’s website (and analytics), social media platforms, email marketing and other digital outreach, print collateral, TV and radio samples, direct mailers, and evaluate the effectiveness of all these channels.
There is always something that can be improved, and it’s my job to come from the outside and look in with a fresh eye, at the overall effectiveness of a company’s branding and messaging. Sometimes some small tweaks can make all the difference in creating a compelling message, other times we might recommend that a company take a look at completely refreshing their branding and marketing messages. Whatever the case, there are a few items that always seem to be overlooked, either they are so small or seem so simple that they are deemed less important, or a company’s owners or executives aren’t experienced enough in conducting an audit to think of these items. Counting down to the number one most overlooked item in a marketing audit, here are the top 5 Most Overlooked Marketing Audit Items:
5. Are Social Media icons placed prominently?
This seems obvious, but almost all clients have social media icons tucked away on their websites. They went to the trouble to create the profiles, and even to have the icons added to their sites, but they are almost always located on a Contact Us page or in the footer of a website. You are super lucky if a consumer goes out of the way to think about looking you up on Twitter or Facebook – most of the time they’re going to find links to your profiles on your website. If you look at heatmap studies which show how visitors’ eyes travel a website, they tend to start at the top left and move to the right, kind of like reading a book. Place those icons in the banner or in a sidebar. They should also be fixed, meaning that they are in that location on every page. Make the most of your social investment by getting people to your profiles.
4. Do you have brand guidelines?
This is another simple but overlooked item – we have clients who start a business, become successful but have no experience with marketing, and allow designers to use different color schemes, and occasionally (*gasp*) different versions of their logo in different places (the website looks different from email templates, which looks different from print pieces).
This happens because business owners are often wearing many hats and outsource the design of their sites, print materials, emails, etc etc etc to different companies, employees or freelancers. Brand guidelines are simple to compile and gives these designers something to follow so that all marketing and messaging looks and feels the same. Need a template? Email me and I’ll send you mine, jennifer at redballooninc dot com
For maximum impact use one color palette, professionally developed by an experienced designer who understands your brand and your audience, and use that logo consistently. That way your prospects and customers will always know it’s you, and that emotional attachment you’ve worked so hard to create is always present.
3. Can you deliver on your brand promise?
This is a big one – is your operational house in order? Is your sales team ready to close the deal? A great marketing firm can make the phones ring or get visitors to your site, but then you have to be able to take it from there. That’s where marketing ends and sales begin – your website has to be user friendly and the customer has to find it easy to flow through the purchasing process. Your sales team has to be ready to answer the phone, smoothly moving through discovery and building rapport, ready to make helpful suggestions and making the sales process simple.
More importantly, each of these pieces should match the tone and personality of your brand – relaxed, casual, formal, smart, trustworthy, edgy. Whatever it is, you must deliver on that brand promise from marketing to sales to putting a finished product in a customer’s hands.
Poor phone skills? Slow website? Lack of personality? Taking too long to produce or ship? Be ready for customers to share their displeasure on Yelp or in Amazon reviews. When we take on a new corporate client for marketing, we ask for a tour of the business and do a full review of product, manufacturing and the fulfillment process. If I can catch – and help fix – a problem that happens after the marketing has done it’s magic, we’re all happier.
2. Are you looking at metrics?
Everyone (almost everyone anyway) *HATES* looking at numbers. Very, very few of my clients look at reporting, and very few of those who do even know what the heck they are looking at. Without fail, we set up reporting and explain meaningful metrics to all the companies we work with.
Yes, you should be looking at Google Analytics to understand if traffic is healthy. Even if you just measure against your site, you should see traffic steadily increasing (small, steady, slow burn, incremental gain is healthy). Is it improving? Tanking? Why? Where is your traffic coming from? What pages on your site are popular?
Yes, growing social profiles is great, but there are many ways to get lots of followers. What are you doing with those followers? Services like Hootsuite make social reporting a breeze, at a glance you can see how much engagement you’re getting (how often people are talking to you). Pay attention to how your customers are using your social profiles – sometimes they think of your social outposts as a place to connect with other fans or enthusiasts, as a place to get discounts or to get customer service. Give the people what they want!
Even if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, start looking at reports at least monthly. Pay the intern in your office to have your reports emailed to you monthly, and once you’ve looked at reports a couple months in a row it will make more sense. Set aside an afternoon and use The Google to do some research, there are MILLIONS of bloggers who will tell you what numbers you should be looking at (I’ll save that for a future post, for now you should be getting into the habit of regularly looking at your reporting).
1. Does “it” feel right?
“It” could be your marketing, your team, your product, your company. Stop second guessing your intuition. I ask all my clients to do the occasional “gut” check when making decisions – does it feel right?
You will almost never see this item on a marketing firm’s audit form. And, you’ll almost never hear a company’s owners or executives bring this conversation up at the office, and it’s a real shame. There is a lot to be said for intuition, or your gut instinct. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they attribute at least some of their success to their hunches. When you feel it, you know it, and you should honor it.
Does this promotional offer feel right? Is what this consultant telling you feel right? Do you feel pride when you think of your company, branding, and marketing? Have you built this company to serve your goals, to serve your life? Hell, do you even want to be doing this? If you feel drained, frustrated, bored, hopeless or lack any interest in what is happening with this company, it’s time for us to have a conversation. More than likely, you’ve been ignoring a problem for a while, and you’re not along – I’ve met a lot of business owners who have lost the enthusiasm for their businesses which is what prompted me to begin alwaysthisgood.com.
It might sound funny, but this is a big, fat, messy conversation that most consultants are not looking to have with you if they sense discomfort or unease. How often do we all gloss over weirdness? I meet a lot of business owners, and some of them love what they do and it shows. Some of them hate what they do, and that shows, too. When I see it, I say it. The greatest service I can provide is not glossing over weirdness, and being willing to talk it out. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re feeling that way, and that can open up a whole new opportunity for creating a successful and fulfilling business, which leads to a successful and fulfilling life. For them, and for me 🙂