By Peggy Bekavac Olson
I frequently confer with payment companies that are in some way frustrated and dissatisfied with marketing. Some say they don't have good marketing collateral, or they think their websites stink. Others believe the image they're projecting isn't professional enough, and their messaging is off the mark. And still others believe they should be better at reaching prospects to generate leads, adding new methods like advertising, email blasts or social media to their repertoire of tactics.
Although these organizations want to improve, they frequently err in rushing to repair the perceived problem du jour. These efforts are no more than bandages that provide temporary fixes to problems, which can help a business in the short term.
But to achieve real and lasting results, companies must find the underlying causes of their dissatisfaction, rather than take one-off, haphazard approaches. To get to the root of the problems, I usually suggest taking a step back from the day-to-day hustle and bustle of business to conduct a thorough brand and marketing audit.
An audit is a good way to see how well marketing efforts and dollars are working. It provides a current-state analysis of brand and marketing effectiveness, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Results of an audit include recommendations to improve brand equity, brand positioning and messaging, brand management, marketing campaigns and tactics, and marketing communications. The results also clarify where organizations should focus future marketing efforts.
Brand and marketing audits can be performed by an organization itself, or by a professional marketing consulting firm. In either case, the evaluation should be as objective as possible. If you're interested in conducting a marketing audit and want to do this project yourself, this article provides a brand and marketing assessment framework for you to use.
Brand is your company's promise of value to customers, prospects and the marketplace. Brand is expressed through verbal and visual communications indicating company positioning and value proposition. To assess brand, examine your brand value and equity, clarity, integrity, and consistency. To properly assess marketing, examine channels, communications, campaigns and tactics from the standpoints of cost, effort, effectiveness and results.
Conducting an audit begins with a multitude of questions to ask and answer. Here are important ones to get you started:
After much research and contemplation using the questions above as a guide, give your organization a macro-level grade on a scale of A to F. This sets a baseline score for ranking future year-over-year improvement. Then, prepare a detailed report of your findings to document the results of your audit. This should include an overall brand and marketing assessment section, including the grade you assigned, plus ample detail noting individual successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses.
In the document's conclusion, specifically highlight recommendations for what you'd like to do more of, what you would like to do better, new strategies you'd like to try, and what you would eliminate going forward. Then go make it happen.
Conducting a formal, methodical, top-to-bottom examination of your company's brand and marketing efforts through an audit will help your business develop a solid foundation for the future. Start the year off right by laying the groundwork to turn today's marketing dissatisfaction into tomorrow's success and accomplishment. I know you'll be happy with the results.
Peggy Bekavac Olson is founder and principal of Strategic Marketing, a full-service marketing and communications firm specializing in financial services and electronic payments. She serves on the Board of the Women's Network in Electronic Payments and on the Program Planning Committee for the Electronic Transactions Association. She can be reached at 480-706-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about Strategic Marketing can be found at www.smktg.com.
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