The Marketing Plan: An Audit-Based Approach
Identifying marketing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
June 13, 2011
Think of the marketing audit as the foundation for a new home. If it is not constructed properly the home will never be stable and the homeowner will always have problems with the house. A well-done marketing plan can infuse your partners with a common sense of purpose and provide the firm with an acceptable rate of return on its invested marketing dollars.
The audit process is designed to examine a number of areas essential to developing your plans. Areas of focus include the following:
With the exception of the first survey, the rest should be completed by those who will have some responsibility for the firm’s marketing efforts. Don’t forget to gather information from your administrative staff, especially your receptionist.
What is the best way to elicit candid and thoughtful responses from firm members? If you guarantee confidentiality, you might receive more candid, possibly even negative, observations. The important thing is to get at the facts and feelings of your people. A second approach is to ask an in-house marketing professional or outside consultant to conduct one-on-one interviews. This is usually more effective as a skilled interviewer can rephrase questions and pursue interesting lines of thought. Hence, you will normally get more information from each participant. A third approach is to bring everyone together in a brainstorming session to discuss the questions on each survey. If you only select this option, make sure you have a skilled facilitator who can keep the discussion focused and ask pertinent open-ended questions. The facilitator needs to draw remarks from everyone in the meeting and prevent any one person from dominating the discussion.
Think of the marketing audit as the foundation for a new home. If it is not constructed properly the home will never be stable and the homeowner will always have problems with the house.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Creating the marketing plan includes three key steps. These steps include:
Identifying Marketing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Once the survey instruments have been collected and tabulated, you will be able to identify the firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. This is referred to as a “SWOT” analysis.
The SWOT analysis should help you identify such items as:
Once you have your list of key findings, it’s a good idea to present them to all of the key members of the firm for additional comments and feedback. The time you spend in this stage of the process will pay handsome dividends in the future.
Developing Marketing Objectives and Strategies Objectives
Objectives tell you what you must do to implement your strategies. They must be concrete and realistic. They need to spell out what you want to accomplish. No marketing plan, as Bruce W. Marcus has written, can be developed without a clear view of objectives. Objectives need to be measurable, otherwise how will you know when you have accomplished them.
For instance, you could have marketing objectives in any of the following areas:
Each objective needs to be measurable. Once the general objective is set, then you need to determine how the success of that objective will be measured. The following are some examples of measurable objectives:
Make sure your objectives are relevant and useful by asking the following questions:
Remember objectives are not cast in stone. While they act as the foundation for designing your marketing program, you should be prepared to change them as conditions and circumstances change. Finally, to make sure your objectives become everyone’s objectives, involve everyone in the goal-setting process.
Your people need to know how their daily activities are aligned with the goals of the firm. The more your people participate in the building of objectives, the more they will feel a sense of ownership and they will begin to act as champions of a particular objective.
This article has been excerpted from Bull’s-Eye! The Ultimate How-To Marketing & Sales Guide for CPAs.
August J. Aquila is the CEO of Aquila Global Advisors, LLC, which specializes in succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, compensation plans and strategic planning.