Marketing Audits, the Perfect Strategic Tool

Marketing audit, the missing link?

In order to survive in today’s highly unpredictable and competitive environment, business leaders cannot leave one stone unturned in their search for excellence! The marketing audit may just be the missing link!

A marketing audit is an invaluable instrument to help an organization to establish its unique competitive position and to identify its superior skills, resources and capabilities. This is a prerequisite for achieving a sustainable competitive advantage for your product, business unit and/or business.

Conducting a marketing audit is one of the best and most sensible decisions an entrepreneur and businessman (or -women!) can make.

What is a marketing audit?

Philip Kotler describes a marketing audit as a –

o comprehensive,

o systematic,

o independent, and

o periodic examination of an organization’s or business unit’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies, and activities with a view to identifying problem areas (and opportunities) and recommending a plan of action to improve the organization’s marketing performance.

The definition clearly confirms the strategic and operational relevance of a marketing audit, making it an indispensable research instrument – dissecting, analyzing, assessing, proposing, and advising.

About the audit process

The audit process should be thoroughly planned so that auditing time and cost are kept to a minimum, since carrying out a marketing audit can be quite expensive. It is usually done by highly skilled, experienced, and specialized marketing professionals. Kotler’s cardinal rule when conducting an audit is: “Do not rely solely on the organization’s managers for data and opinions. Employees, customers, retailers, agents, and other stakeholders must also be interviewed and be involved in the process.”

Asking the “right” questions is in actual fact the key to conducting a successful marketing audit. Questions unlock an individual’s or a group’s creative instincts and serve to stimulate the thought processes. If the right questions are asked in the right manner, refreshingly new marketing insights and ideas come to the fore.

The marketing audit also provides the auditor with a clearer picture of the organization’s marketing function and business environment. It will help him/her to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization’s internal and external (marketing) environment.

Some final thoughts

Unlike a financial audit, a marketing audit has a strong dualistic character. On the one hand it has a scientific and structured side, and on the other hand it has a “chaos” side that invites and provokes intuitive, creative and “out-of-the-box” thinking.

I believe that the marketing audit process should encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking, since competitive advantage rarely comes from sameness. When businesses offer the same product and service to the same market by performing the same kind of activities no business will prosper in the long run. Information obtained from a thorough and skillfully conducted marketing audit will enable management to develop a market focused strategy that is directed by its unique capabilities, ensuring sustainable competitive advantage for their product, business unit and/or business.

Lastly, the marketing audit plays an important role in developing a (successful) strategic marketing plan. A well conducted marketing audit can provide corporate and marketing decision-makers with quality information that is relevant, practical and constructive. As a strategic instrument, the marketing audit is indispensable when developing a marketing strategy.

SWOT Analysis Template – An Indispensable Tool In Strategic Planning Process

SWOT Analysis Template – What Is It?

The SWOT Analysis Template provides a structured method for assessing the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of a business, product or team being done before the strategy formulation phase of the strategic planning process. It is also an effective tool in the conduct of personal SWOT analysis.

Template Types To Choose From

There are 3 types of SWOT Analysis Template

1- Classic SWOT Analysis Template. It is most often used in strategic planning primarily to summarize an analysis of your four strategic environments consisting of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

This template is a great tool for you to use to record the outcomes of your strategic planning analysis or strategy brainstorming session. It is easy to use, all you have to do is place your content in the appropriate spots. However this template assumes that you already know how to complete a strategic analysis, and that you have completed your analysis.

2- Ultimate SWOT Analysis Template. It includes greater than 50 analysis questions that will help you to complete a thorough analysis of your strategic environments. There are questions for each of the four segments of the analysis of the SWOT. If you have not completed your analysis, this template will save you a lot of time.

This type of template is a great tool for you to use if you would like some guidance with your analysis. The template is 5 pages long and poses a series of questions about your business and your operating environment. Your responses to these questions will form the basis for your analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

After you have completed each of the four sections on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can also summarize your SWOT on the last page same as that of the previous template.

The template is designed to give you a more rigorous analysis. However you will need to consider your own industry-specific requirements as part of your analysis of the SWOT.

3- Distinctive SWOT Analysis Template. This template will help you to identify connections between your internal strengths/weaknesses and your external opportunities/threats. It is a great tool to help communicate the implications of the SWOT to all staff.

The advantage of this type of template is that it has four quadrants that make it easy for you to quickly and simply identify where your internal and external strategic environments interact.

The Template’s Relevance

As market become more and more competitive, it is essential to continuously assess current operations and identify ways in which performance can be improved quickly and simply. To expedite the assessment process, the use of appropriate SWOT Analysis Template is a must.

In my personal capacity, I have had proven that such template is applicable in the conduct of personal SWOT analysis.

We in the Socorro Empowered People’s Cooperative (SOEMCO), an institution which is very much attached to island life in Bucas Grande Island, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Philippines, always made sure that the suitable SWOT analysis template would be utilized during the conduct of the annual Business Planning process in consonance with the 5-year Strategic Plan to feed into key decisions about future directions of the cooperative.