Year end or periodic audit in any organisation often brings chills down auditee’s spine to certain extent. However, periodic audit activities are inevitable if the organisation is a public listed company as they are part of the listing requirements to provide the stakeholders the assurance of good corporate governance and internal controls. These practices keep management on their toe and may prevent any hanky panky in their daily operations as risks are mitigated while maintaining systematic sound controls.
But have you ever wonder how audit methodology can be applied in your marketing strategy? It is workable if you know how to fine tune it and gear it towards your marketing goals and objectives. The audit methodology can be a very tedious exercise to both the auditees and auditors. However, it can bring effective results that add value to an organisation’s well being if it is planned properly, executed according to audit program, reported timely on its findings with corrective actions and follow-up audit to ensure full compliance. In a nutshell, the audit process typically comprises of planning, fieldwork, reporting and follow-up. Alternatively, it can also be illustrated in the following diagrammatic cycle:
When preparing your marketing strategy, you can modify the above audit methodology to become your marketing methodology instead:
Planning. The planning stage in audit refers to the annual Audit Plan which states the audit objectives, audit approach, audit scopes, auditable areas, audit team and budgeted cost.
Likewise from marketing perspective, you can always start off by having a good marketing plan in the above mentioned manner. The plan should among others, comprise of the desired objective, outline the value proposition, marketing approach, market areas to be covered, targeted audience and schedule/budgeted cost. It would be good if a team can be assembled to create the plan, analyse an existing market and break down the plan’s components into focused sections. However, it is imperial to align your marketing plan to the one that you truly desire. A solid roadmap will make any marketing plan more effective as it can be used as a base to revise according to circumstances. As long as you address the 7 ‘P’s of marketing mix in your marketing plan as illustrated in the following diagram, it should be adequate to start implementing your marketing strategy:
Tip: If you are having difficulty to kick start your marketing plan, you can try imaginary resolution in my recent article published last week. It can be a good brainstorming session for your marketing team to start working on.
Fieldwork Via Marketing Program. Audit fieldwork is based on designed audit program. The latter can act as a checklist to ensure auditors complete the necessary audit tests during their fieldwork within a set timeframe.
Just like audit programs, you can design a marketing program which dictates the step by step approach to carry out your tasks as per your marketing plan. The program should break down the type of marketing modes that you are going to use, the step by step approach in implementing your marketing strategy, the assigned marketing personnel to follow through and the time frame to complete each task. The program can also be used as a checklist to keep track on the various stages of implementing the stated marketing tasks. This is to allow room for revision of your marketing program if some of the tasks did not work out as initially planned or expected.
The execution of marketing fieldwork depends on the chosen marketing communications. It is the approach we use to deliver the message to the audience. Among others, we have the traditional approach such as newspaper, radio and television and online tools (which includes social media, etc), external and internal approaches. We have marketing integration (vertical, horizontal and internal) which combines branding and marketing integration approach that encompasses external and internal stakeholders and touch points. If you would like to know more about marketing integration, please visit this website for a brief tutorial.
Tip: There is no one right marketing tool which will guarantee a favourable return. Although the many choices of marketing modes provide opportunities to connect with audiences in different ways, they can be challenging, time consuming and at times, costly. But one thing for sure, never underestimates the power of online presence as it represents communication from endless angles.
Reporting. The above first 2 stages are only the beginning of a puzzle. What about the results of the audit? Upon completion of the audit fieldwork, Audit Reports will be issued and presented accordingly to report on the state of internal controls and compliance. Here, auditees are answerable to the findings via management responses.
So, assuming you have implemented your marketing strategy as planned, you may want to report the outcome and assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. You may want to know the audiences’ responses to your advertisement or products/services. This can be ascertained by either obtaining public’s feedbacks on your products/services through surveys or based on the number of sales made. You can apply the AIDA Model when assessing the public’s responses as follows:
ATTENTION – “Hey, what is that?”
INTEREST – “Wow, that looks interesting”
DESIRE – “I would like to have this”
ACTION – “I will go ahead and get it”
Based on your reported outcome, you may then decide whether to change your marketing strategy or continue with your existing one.
Tips: Most importantly, is the ability to recognise the change in society and to react at the right time. If your marketing strategy is coming to a roadblock, hesitate no further to rework it accordingly, especially when it is no where near the AIDA model.
Follow-up. The type of follow-up audit and the time to conduct it depend on the seriousness of the audit findings and the timeframe required rectifying the weaknesses. Proper follow-up actions will close the gaps for any loose controls or discrepancies.
As from marketing aspect, follow-up actions can take place anytime, be it at the initial stage of planning, when executing your marketing program or during reporting stage when you need to revise your strategy to make it works. It simply means follow-up actions on outstanding issues or identified hiccups that need to be resolved. It is unwise to ignore required follow-up actions when you have come this far only to leave unresolved issues dangling in the air unattended. In the absence of proper follow-up actions, this will not only lead to a failed marketing strategy but also tarnish your brand and corporate image and what more to talk about sales and profits.
Tip: The sense of urgency and effectiveness in performing follow-up actions are crucial to enhance the marketability of your products/services within the shortest timeframe.
The audit methodology which may comprise of detailed processes depends on several factors such as business nature, size of your organisation, management’s requirements, manpower, availability of resources and other factors. If you were to adopt the audit methodology in our marketing approach, always bear in mind to continuously reassess its practicability and to take into account any significant changes or required proactive actions from time to time to mitigate any serious impacts on your products/services.