With another new year approaching, you’re probably even more concerned than usual – because of the sluggish economic growth, turbulent financial markets, unknown fallout from Brexit, and the exhausting and uncertain election season. Rest assured, your customers, prospects and employees are probably as concerned as you are.
These concerns will in many cases retard or even halt decision making and commitment to a variety of programs. In fact, the August CEO Confidence Index from Chief Executive Magazine, reflecting opinions on “future business conditions”, is near its lowest level since January, 2015.
As a marketer in a B2C, B2B or nonprofit organization, developing and implementing your new marketing and marketing communications strategy, plan, budget and tactics probably seems even more unnerving than in previous years. And the time to commit your resources – money, time and people – is rapidly approaching.
In the midst of all this doom and gloom are there any rays of sunshine? We believe there are, and recommend that now is the perfect time to take a step back and consider a more thorough evaluation of your program through the use of a marketing communications audit.
A Marketing Communications Audit Improves ROI
If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted an audit, now may be a crucial time to do so before committing your already stretched resources. Like a financial audit, this process will provide an objective, professional picture of your current situation.
It will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing program as a whole, as well as how each communications tactic and message does or does not contribute to your objectives, strategy, budget and ROI.
The audit can provide a meaningful analysis of both your internal and external tactics and messaging, creative approach, subject matter, media mix, and budget allocation. Importantly, it will also provide an understanding of what is registering with your customers, prospects and employees versus what they really want to know about your brand.
Ultimately, the audit will provide an understanding of what needs to be improved, along with an actionable integrated roadmap of how to achieve your goals – how specific messages should be delivered across all forms of traditional and new media, as well as events, promotions, public relations, packaging and employee communications. The end results of this type of audit can significantly improve your marketing communications ROI now and well into the future. It will also provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your have developed a plan based on increased rigor and professionalism.
Marketing Communications Consultants Can Really Help
Most probably, you’ve already put a lot of hard work into developing your marketing and marketing communications plan. And, even if you believe that an audit would be a prudent way to go, you might not be confident that your internal staff has the time, energy or skill set to provide a thorough and in-depth audit at this time. Fresh eyes and apolitical candor from outside consultants might be just what you and your already stretched team might need.
Consider tapping into established, media neutral consultants, with broad experience across industries, companies and nonprofits, both large and small, who are willing to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. Don’t settle for a consultant with experience in only your niche or industry, selling only one particular discipline. And be sure they’re analytically driven, willing to test their measurements against the real world. This is the time to take a broad view of your business and opportunities, not to rely on “this is the way we’ve always done it”
Improving your ROI for the year ahead is always an important goal; it’s even more important this year with the increased uncertainties facing all of us. Fresh and apolitical evaluation and measurement of your program makes a lot of sense. As W. Edwards Deming, the father of modern quality management techniques, said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
Gary Kullberg is the CEO of the Kullberg Consulting Group,founded in 1994 to provide companies and nonprofits with strategic and executional marketing communications solutions. The Company consists of sixty entrepreneurially driven senior level professionals, across disciplines, who have worked with over 585 organizations in 21 major industry groups. Because of its unique structure, clients are able to “cherry pick” the specific disciplines(s) to meet their needs, in a timely, cost efficient and unbiased manner. Gary is considered an authority in the B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketplaces. He has served as the outsourced Chief Marketing Officer for three companies, as well as on five nonprofit Executive Boards, one as Vice Chair and two as Chair.